The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven't been a big player in free agency, but that didn't stop them from retaining one of their own players Thursday when the team signed defensive end Greg Spires to a new five-year, $17.1 million contract that included a $5 million signing bonus.
"I'm happy - real happy," Spires told Pewter Report. "I wanted to stay all along and build on what I did last year. I'm comfortable in this defense and with the coaches. I like it here and I'm happy to have this (deal) done."
Spires, 30, was under contract for the 2005 season and was scheduled to have a $3 million cap value, but some reports suggested that the Bucs had agreed to release him if an extension wasn't worked out.
Bucs general manager Bruce Allen and Spires' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, spent Thursday hammering the deal out in Miami, where both men were attending the University of Miami's pro day workout.
By signing Spires to a long-term contract, it is believed that the Buccaneers, who were roughly $1 million under the NFL-mandated $85 million salary cap heading into Thursday, created some more cap room.
Tampa Bay signed the 6-foot-1, 265-pound Spires during the 2002 offseason. He unseated Marcus Jones as the team's starting left defensive end in training camp and helped the Bucs earn a trip to the Super Bowl that season by notching 47 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 16 regular season starts. The former Florida State standout added one sack, three tackles and two passes defensed against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Last season, Spires had a career year, recording career highs in tackles (86) and sacks (8). Although he spent some time at under tackle toward the end of last season, Spires is expected to start at left end again next season.
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