Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen revealed that the team is closing in on signing first-round draft pick Davin Joseph during a two-hour town hall meeting with a select group of Buccaneers fans on Wednesday night at Raymond James Stadium.
Allen said that he is supposed to meet with Ben Dogra, the agent for Joseph, a former guard at the University of Oklahoma, on Tuesday - perhaps in Tampa. Allen said that he and Dogra, who represented the Bucs' 2005 first-round pick, running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, met last year in St. Louis just prior to training camp to negotiate that deal.
The Buccaneers report to camp in Celebration, Fla. on Thursday, July 27. The first practice will be held on Friday, July 28. Allen, who has never had a rookie hold out as the general manager of the Buccaneers, signed tight end Tim Massaquoi, one of the team's 10 2006 draft picks, earlier in the day.
Allen disclosed that Tampa Bay is currently $8 million under the salary cap, and the team has just over $4.5 million in the rookie salary pool.
New Bucs front office senior assistant Kevin Demoff, the son of famed NFL player agent Marvin Demoff, is taking the lead in many contract negotiations, but Allen said that he and other front office personnel will still be involved in the process.
"Kevin is heavily involved in the contracts, but we still have spread it out among the guys," Allen said. "[Buccaneers general counsel] Roxanne [Kosarzycki] is not doing [a contract negotiation] this year, which is why I didn't say gals. But it's a great education for them."
Allen also addressed the contract situations of Pro Bowl cornerback Ronde Barber and quarterback Chris Simms during the event. When asked if there was any movement on a contract extension for Barber, who is slated to be an unrestricted free agent in 2007, Allen said, "No. As I've said before, the deadline for Ronde is really March of 2007, so right now we're focusing in on our rookies to make sure that they get to camp on time."
With regards to Simms, who will also be an unrestricted free agent in '07 after signing a one-year contract to stay off the restricted free agent market, Allen said, "I can't wait to pay him a boatload of money."
Obviously, if Simms is commanding a "boatload of money" it is because he put up strong numbers in 2006 and won a lot of games as the team's starter, which is what Allen is hoping takes place. If Simms and the Bucs cannot reach an agreement on a contract extension prior to free agency next year, Allen did say that Tampa Bay could slap the franchise tag on the young quarterback.
The other personnel note from Allen's discussion came when he was asked about former University of South Florida running back Andre Hall. Unfortunately for Hall, and the USF alum who asked the question, Allen said that he was a "very long shot" to make it on the roster. Hall might not even make it to training camp as the Bucs need to trim their roster from 100 players to 89 players by Thursday when Tampa Bay reports to camp in order to be in compliance with NFL roster regulations.
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