DE Simeon Rice played six seasons with the Buccaneers after beginning his career in Arizona
(Updated following Bruce Allen press conference)Though Simeon Rice and the Bucs hoped he would be ready for camp, in the end he was terminated following a failed physical
At the end of a busy first day of training camp, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made one more very noteworthy roster move.
Shortly before 7:00 p.m., the Buccaneers announced that veteran defensive end Simeon Rice has been terminated/failed physical. Rice was administered a physical upon his arrival at camp, as are all players.
"Every player has a different type of physical, but there's a standard physical and it's a player's responsibility to report his physical conditions or ailments to the doctors at the beginning of training camp," said Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen. "He didn't feel he was capable of going. There were obviously appropriate tests given to him and our doctors concurred."
The move comes before Rice was to begin his seventh season with Tampa Bay. Most of his 2006 campaign was lost to a shoulder injury that limited him to eight games and severely affected his production before he went on injured reserve. It is that same injury that led to Rice's failed physical on Thursday; previously, he and the team had been hopeful that he would be fully recovered by the beginning of camp.
The current timetable for Rice's full recovery is unclear, and that was a factor in the team's decision to terminate him from the roster. However, Allen does not believe the shoulder ailment will prevent Rice from eventually playing in the NFL again.
"I don't think there's any doubt that he will be better in time," said Allen. "He's a phenomenal worker and athlete. Simeon Rice is a Super Bowl champion with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's an all-pro. He has over 100 sacks [which] puts him in rare company in the NFL history books. Our dialogue was really about what was going to happen in the future, a little about the past and his accomplishments. Like many before, I don't think the last chapter in Simeon Rice's NFL career has been written."
In his six seasons as a Buccaneer, Rice tallied 69.5 sacks, third most in team history. He had at least 11 sacks in each of his first five seasons in Tampa. Including his five years with the Arizona Cardinals, who drafted him third overall in 1996, Rice has career totals that include 584 tackles, 121 sacks and 37 forced fumbles.
Though the Buccaneers' pass rush suffered in the absence of such contributions last year, the team has made several moves to invigorate that aspect of the defense since the end of 2006. Most notably, the Bucs used the fourth pick of last April's draft to select Clemson defensive end Gaines Adams, another speed rusher off the edge. Adams and Patrick Chukwurah, a free agent acquisition from Denver, are the two leading candidates to take over the starting right end position. Allen also did not rule out the possibility of Rice's eventual NFL return coming with the Buccaneers, and he praised Rice for his hard work in attempting to return from the 2006 injury.
"We talked about that," said Allen of Rice possibly being a Buccaneer again at some point in the future. "It's taking a little bit longer, this injury, than anticipated, but it's not because he hasn't tried to work. We have a lot of players that need the opportunity to get some playing time. It gives us an opportunity to look outside of our own roster for maybe some other players. But, no, his last chapter is not written, and Simeon will always be recognized with the Buccaneers."
In an earlier-Thursday roster move, the Bucs signed Adams to his first NFL contract, allowing the rookie to report to training camp on time. Later, the team signed its two second-round picks, guard Arron Sears and safety Sabby Piscitelli. With the Rice termination, the Bucs have now balanced those three signings with three roster-clearing moves, as defensive end Charles Bennett was placed on injured reserve and tight end T.J. Williams was waived.