The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are only five days away from reporting to training camp at the University of Tampa, but this is not stopping them from making roster moves. The Bucs finally inked fourth-round draft selection S John Howell to a three-year contract. The Bucs also signed free agent RB Pepe Pearson to a one-year contract and released WR Eddie Hardaway.
It took the Buccaneers an usually long time to sign Howell, but having the former Colorado State Ram under contract will now give Tampa Bay a chance to focus all efforts on signing their first-round pick LT Kenyatta Walker. Walker is now the only one of the Bucs' nine draft picks that remains unsigned.
Pearson, who originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the San Francisco 49ers in 1998 out of Ohio State, has also gone to training camp with the Detroit Lions (1999) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2000). Pearson was signed due to concerns about rookie RB Jeff Chaney’s leg injury, which he suffered in voluntary workouts.
Pearson played for NFL Europe’s Rhein Fire in each of the last two offseasons. This spring, Pearson ranked second in rushing in the league with 597 yards and three touchdowns.
Hardaway was Pearson’s teammate with Rhein this offseason and signed with Tampa Bay on Jan. 3. But Hardaway was a long shot to make the Bucs’ final 53-man roster and was cut today after he did not progress from a shoulder injury he suffered over in Europe as quickly as the Bucs would have liked him to.
Tampa Bay will now take six running backs and 13 wide receivers with them when they go camping on July 29.
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