Several Tampa Bay assistant coaches are in the process of exploring their options as their contracts are set to expire at the end of the month.

That includes Buccaneers assistant head coach/running backs coach Art Valero, who was recently granted permission to interview with the St. Louis Rams.

Valero, who originally was hired by Bucs head coach Jon Gruden in 2002, is believed to be interviewing for St. Louis' vacant offensive line coach position, which became open when the Rams fired Paul Boudreau on Jan. 7.

Rams head coach Scott Linehan attempted to interview Valero for a job in St. Louis last year, but the Buccaneers denied the interview request, citing the fact that he still was under contract with Tampa Bay.

After spending his first two seasons in Tampa Bay as the tight ends coach, Valero was moved to running backs coach to replace Kirby Wilson, who was fired after the 2003 season ended.

In 2006, Valero was promoted to assistant head coach, a title he would later share with defensive line coach Larry Coyer, who was hired by the Bucs during the 2007 offseason.

Valero helped former first-round draft pick Cadillac Williams earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors when he rushed for 1,178 yards in 2005. He also played an integral role in third-string RB Earnest Graham's success last season.

A former undrafted free agent out of Florida, Graham rushed for 898 yards (4.0 avg.) and 10 touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 324 yards while playing in place of Williams and Michael Pittman, both of who suffered injuries. As a result of Graham's success, Tampa Bay's ground attack finished the 2007 season ranked 11th overall, which was the highest the Bucs' running game has ever ranked under Gruden.

In addition to Valero, several Bucs assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett, offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Muir, wide receivers coach Richard Mann, special teams coach Richard Bisaccia and assistant defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake, are believed to have contracts that are set to expire at the end of the month.

Tampa Bay is in the process of talking to those coaches and likely will fill out its coaching staff before Senior Bowl, which begins on Jan. 21.

Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen could shed more light on the current state of Tampa Bay's coaching staff when he holds a press conference at One Buccaneer Place at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Want the inside scoop on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2008 offseason plans? Want to find out who the Bucs are targeting in free agency and the NFL Draft this year? Subscribe to PewterReport.com's Pewter Insider by clicking here.

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