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Cash Returns to Buccaneers

In addition to scouring the market for new players, the Buccaneers also used the first day of free agency to bring back one of their own, re-signing fourth-year linebacker and special teams ace Antoine Cash


LB Antoine Cash missed the 2007 season with a knee injury but was a special teams standout in 2006

Antoine Cash's first foray into free agency lasted less than a day, and he didn't even have to leave town.

On Friday evening, the Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed the fourth-year linebacker, bringing back a special teams dynamo who spent all of the 2007 season on injured reserve. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, as is team policy.

Had the Buccaneers extended the necessary tender offer, Cash would have become a restricted free agent on Friday at 12:01 a.m. That offer wasn't extended, however, in effect making Cash an unrestricted free agent. Obviously, that approach had nothing to do with the team's interest in bringing him back into the fold, as a new contract was in place before Friday was over.

The 25-year-old Cash is the second player signed by the Buccaneers on the opening day of free agency, following the inking of former New Orleans Saints center Jeff Faine. With many teams enjoying considerable room under a recently inflated salary cap, the initial day of the open market was busy all around the NFL.

Cash (6-1, 223) missed out on the Bucs' 2007 division-championship season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Jacksonville on August 18. Though Cash wasn't one of the team's more well-known names, Head Coach Jon Gruden called his preseason move to injured reserve a "big loss" for the Buccaneers. The season before, he had ranked fourth on the team with 17 special teams tackles.

Cash has been with the Buccaneers since midway through his 2005 rookie season. A standout at Southern Miss, he slipped through the '05 draft but was signed the next day by Atlanta. He impressed in Falcons camp and beat the odds to earn a roster spot for the regular season. After appearing in three games for the Falcons, he was released in November but quickly snapped up by the Bucs for their practice squad. Another strong training camp, this time with the Buccaneers, earned Cash a roster spot in 2006 and this time he held it throughout the season.

Cash, in fact, emerged as one of the Bucs' best special teams players. Tampa Bay coaches also still believed he could help on defense, and they moved him from the outside to middle linebacker this summer to test his acumen at that spot. The move went well and Cash had a very good shot to make the team again and provide depth and versatility to the linebacking crew in 2007.

At Southern Miss, Cash appeared in 39 games and made 15 starts, racking up 266 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one interception. He is a native of Anguilla, Mississippi.

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