The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the market for a wide receiver, which is why they inquired about Seattle Seahawks free agent WR D.J. Hackett shortly after the free agent signing period began on Friday morning.
Contrary to what some published reports have suggested, the Buccaneers do not have a visit scheduled with Hackett.
A former fifth-round draft pick out of Colorado, Hackett has spent the first four years of his career in Seattle, where he caught 105 passes for 1,394 yards (13.3 avg.) and nine touchdowns.
While Hackett has the speed and hands the Bucs are looking for at the receiver position, he has had trouble staying healthy throughout his career.
In fact, Hackett, 26, has missed a total of 31 regular season games over the past four seasons due to various injuries.
Last season, Hackett caught 32 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns while playing in just six games due to a sprained ankle.
Still, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound Hackett is a productive receiver when he is healthy, and he's also well versed in the West Coast offense, which Tampa Bay sees tremendous value in.
Tampa Bay has veteran wide receivers Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, Michael Clayton and Maurice Stovall under contract for the 2008 season. However, the Bucs are looking to get younger and deeper, faster and younger at the position.
DE SMITH NOT SCHEDULED TO VISIT BUCS Cincinnati free agent defensive end Justin Smith has lined up some visits, but Tampa Bay isn't one of the places on his list, or at least it wasn't several hours into the free agent signing period.
Smith, 28, is reportedly scheduled to visit Minnesota and San Francisco, but his agent, Jim Steiner, told PewterReport.com that the Buccaneers have not expressed much interest in Smith.
A former first-round draft pick, Smith has recorded 43.5 career sacks since he entered the NFL in 2001. However, after being franchised by the Bengals last year, Smith notched just two sacks on a Bengals defense that struggled.
The Bucs are interested in improving their pass rush this offseason and still could show interest in signing Smith.
TAMPA BAY EXPRESSING INTEREST IN SEVERAL FREE AGENTS In addition to Hackett and linebacker Niko Koutouvides, the Buccaneers have also expressed interest in former Tampa Bay running back Aaron Stecker (New Orleans) and tight end John Gilmore (Chicago), who is known for his run blocker.
With Michael Pittman and Anthony Becht acheiving the necessary playing time to void the remaining years of their contracts with Tampa Bay, the Bucs are looking for replacements at the running back and tight end positions.
It is believed that Tampa Bay is in the process of setting up visits with Stecker and Gilmore.
Tampa Bay has also contacted Dallas free agent cornerback Jacques Reeves, although he is not yet scheduled to visit One Buc Place.
MORE FREE AGENCY NEWS AND NOTES PewterReport.com has confirmed that the Buccaneers have tendered offers to restricted free agent DT Jovan Haye and exclusive rights free agent Greg White, although it is unclear at what level Tampa Bay tendered those players.
PewterReport.com has also spoken with the agent for center-guard Matt Lehr, who signed a one-year deal with Tampa Bay last year. He confirmed that the Bucs have expressed an interest in re-signing Lehr, but could not do so before Friday because Lehr is a MSB (minimum salary benefit) player. That prevented him from negotiating with the Bucs until the start of free agency. It is unclear how the imminent signing of center Jeff Faine would affect negotiations with Lehr, if at all.
MORE FREE AGENCY VISITS Keep track of all of the Tampa Bay's visits that PewterReport.com has been able to confirm on the Bucs Free Agency Tracker on the PewterReport.com message boards.
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