Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Roster Work Continues

The Bucs continue their final preparations for training camp by inking one more draft pick and releasing one player


On Wednesday, DE Joe Tafoya, a seventh-round pick out of Arizona, became the sixth of nine 2001 draft choices to come to contract terms

Beyond a few dozen players utilizing the equipment in the weight room, there is little team activity occurring at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' headquarters this week. With just a few spaces left on the calendar before training camp, the only place really hopping at One Buccaneer Place is the player personnel department.

After signing a total of five 2001 draft picks on Monday and Tuesday, General Manager Rich McKay's office continued to shape the roster on Wednesday, coming to terms with a sixth draft pick and releasing one player.

One of the team's two remaining seventh-rounders, defensive end Joe Tafoya, agreed to terms on a three-year contract. Meanwhile, the team waived first-year defensive end Matt Sweeney, who recently completed the 2001 NFL Europe season with the Amsterdam Admirals. Sweeney failed to pass a team physical after sustaining a shoulder injury with the Admirals.

With Tafoya in the fold, the Bucs have just three remaining unsigned players, first-round tackle Kenyatta Walker, fourth-round safety John Howell and seventh-round tight end Dauntae' Finger. On Monday, the team agreed to terms with fifth-round guard Russ Hochstein, sixth-round fullback Jameel Cook, sixth-round defensive end Ellis Wyms and seventh-round safety Than Merrill. On Tuesday, CB Dwight Smith was added to the list.

Tafoya (6-4, 258) was the 234th player chosen. A first-team All-Pac 10 performer at Arizona, he played four seasons and tallied 165 tackles, 24.5 sacks and 49 tackles for loss. Tafoya played both end and tackle for the Wildcats, recording 10 sacks as a junior and six as a senior.

By releasing Sweeney, who had originally been signed on January 3 then immediately allocated to NFL Europe, the Bucs trimmed their training camp roster to 85 players. The league sets a limit of 80 players under contract for training camp, but also grants exemptions roughly equal to the number of players the team allocates to the NFLEL.

Though the Bucs have released two of the eight players (also WR Chris Daniels) they originally allocated to Europe, they can still use eight exemptions if they wish to sign other NFLEL players who are not currently under contract with an NFL team. Look for the Buccaneers to pursue that option.

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