In addition to trimming its roster down to 73 players Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded guard/center Jason Whittle to the New York Giants in exchange for an undisclosed 2005 draft pick.

A seventh-year veteran, Whittle spent the first five years of his career with the Giants. He signed a five-year contract with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent in 2002.

Whittle was projected to start at right guard for the Bucs last season before fracturing his leg during a mini-camp practice. That injury, along with a fractured collarbone he suffered during the season, only allowed Whittle to start five of Tampa Bay’s 16 games in ’03.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Whittle was said to be healthy during the offseason, training camp and preseason, and was attempting to earn a 53-man roster spot by serving as a starting or backup guard and center, but the team is apparently pleased with second-year offensive lineman Sean Mahan, who has also been taking reps at guard and center.

By trading Whittle, the Tampa Bay took a cap hit of approximately $152,000, but the Bucs, who traded left tackle Roman Oben to the San Diego Chargers earlier this offseason, will have nine draft picks in ’05 if the “conditional draft pick” applies next year.

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