One week after he told PewterReport.com in an exclusive interview that he wished to remain in Tampa Bay through the 2006 season and beyond, running back Michael Pittman and the Buccaneers made that a reality Friday by coming to terms on a contract extension that will keep the ninth-year tailback under contract with the Bucs through the 2009 season.
Pittman’s extension included $330,000 in guaranteed money and lowered his cap value from $2.1 million to $1.4 million in 2006, freeing up approximately $700,000 in cap room for the Bucs. The deal, which includes a base salary of $675,000 for Pittman in 2006, is also loaded with incentives and avereges out to $1 million per year over the life of the contract.
The Bucs, who are still in the process of talking to agents in an effort to rework more contracts, have until 6:00 p.m. Sunday to be in compliance with the NFL-mandated salary cap of $94.5 million.
Pittman, 30, was entering the final year of the five-year, $8.75 million contract he signed with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent back in 2002.
The 6-foot, 228-pound Pittman had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to buy himself out of the final year of his deal for $200,000, but Pittman opted against it and told PewterReport.com last week that he wanted to remain and retire a Buccaneer.
“I was just trying to help the Bucs in any way I could to get under the cap,” Pittman told PewterReport.com just hours after signing the extension. “I told you last week when we talked about the buyout that I wanted to stay here and end my career out here. I think they wanted me here, too. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have signed me to the extension.”
Despite playing a reserve role behind Bucs rookie running back Cadillac Williams, who went on to rush for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns and earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors last season, Pittman saw a significant amount of playing time in 2005, touching the ball a total of 106 times and producing 736 yards of total offense.
He finished the season with 70 carries for 436 yards and one touchdown, and his 6.2 yards per carry average proved to be a career high. Pittman also finished third on the team in receptions with 36 catches for 300 yards and one touchdown.
Pittman proved to be a valuable contributor and backup, starting four games, with three of them coming in place of Williams, who was sidelined with a foot and hamstring injury earlier in the season. With Williams ailing in games vs. Detroit, New York (Jets), Miami and San Francisco, Pittman helped carry the torch, rushing 37 times for 208 yards (5.6 avg.) and one touchdown while hauling in 15 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown.
Pittman also returned three kickoffs for 85 yards (28.3 avg.) in Tampa Bay’s regular season finale vs. New Orleans. After leading the team in kick return average, Pittman expects to given the opportunity to compete for the starting kickoff return position again in 2006.
Read more on Pittman’s decision to stay in Tampa on his official website, Pittman32.com.
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