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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Title, New Deals

On the day his elevation to assistant general manager is announced, Bucs personnel man John Idzik finishes up two new player contracts


John Idzik (right) has a new title - assistant general manager - but will continue to get involved in all aspects of the Bucs' roster management

John Idzik will move into a new office at One Buccaneer Place soon, but on Monday he was still in the same digs that housed his first nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And though Idzik also has the new title of assistant general manager – which the team announced on Monday – it was business as usual in his office, just to the left of the one occupied by General Manager Rich McKay.

As the assistant G.M., Idzik will continue to negotiate player contracts and manage the team's salary cap, as he has done for some time now. On Monday, as if on cue, Idzik finished up new deals for a pair of players, tight end Dauntae' Finger and wide receiver Gerald Harris.

Finger, the first of three seventh-round picks by the Bucs last April, signed a three-year contract, becoming the seventh of the team's nine draftees to come to contract terms. Still unsigned are first-round tackle Kenyatta Walker and fourth-round safety John Howell.

In addition, the Bucs added a new face to the roster with the signing of Harris, the second-leading receiver for the Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe League this spring.

Finger (6-4, 255) was the 205th player drafted overall last April. At North Carolina, Finger shared tight end duties with Alge Crumpler, the Atlanta Falcons' second-round pick this year and the primary tight end passcatcher in the Tar Heels' offense. Finger did finish his collegiate career with 15 receptions for 138 yards and one touchdown, but he was primarily known for his strong blocking skills.

Harris (5-11, 186) originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Tennessee Titans last April. He was waived at the end of Tennessee's training camp and, after sitting out the 2000 season, was drafted as a free agent by the Admirals in February. He went on to catch 26 passes for 253 yards for Amsterdam.

As a collegian at Washington, Harris started for two seasons and posted career totals of 68 receptions for 935 yards and eight touchdowns. As a senior, he caught 37 passes for 571 yards and four scores and led the Huskies with 81.3 all-purpose yards per game.

With the signing of Finger and the addition of Harris, the Bucs now have 86 players on the roster, 84 under contract. They can head to camp with up to 88 players, though eight of those must be 2001 NFLEL performers, as that's the number of exemptions the team earned by sending players overseas. Currently, one of the open roster slots is an NFLEL exemption while the other, created when rookie CB Alex Ardley was released last month, can be used on any free agent.

As confusing as such roster management can be, it's old hat for Idzik, a former magna cum laude at Dartmouth and the Bucs' resident 'cap guru.' He is in his ninth year in the Bucs' personnel department, having spent the previous five seasons as director of football administration.

"Our goal as an organization has been to promote from within and reward those who have contributed to the success of the team, as John has," said McKay.

In his current role, Idzik works with McKay on player and football operations contracts, and helps plan the team's salary cap maneuverings. He also acts as a liaison to the league on contract, salary cap and player personnel matters, and evaluates player talent. If that's not enough, Idzik directs the team's travel and computer operations.

Idzik started with the Buccaneers in 1993 as a pro personnel assistant. He came to Tampa Bay after spending the 1991 and 1992 seasons as a graduate assistant at Duke University, where he coached the offensive line under Barry Wilson. Prior to that, he spent the 1990 season as the offensive backfield coach for the Aberdeen Oilers (Scotland) of the British American Football League. Idzik's first coaching job was as the receivers coach at the University of Buffalo in 1982.

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