Kelly buys out final year of contract

Brian Kelly (AP Photo)

Brian Kelly, a 10-year veteran of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, bought out the final year of his contract on Friday and will become an unrestricted free agent next month.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brian Kelly has bought out the final year of his contract and will test free agency, two Tampa-area media Web sites reported on Friday.

The Buccaneers did not announce Kelly's buyout. The St. Petersburg Times reported that the 10-year veteran paid $435,000 to be released from his contract.

Kelly was slated to count $4.653 million against the salary cap in 2008, so the Buccaneers will see a significant cash savings, even after the signing of running back Michael Bennett on Friday.

Kelly's buyout also brings to an end a beautiful partnership between he and cornerback Ronde Barber, who have started side-by-side for several years and helped anchor the Bucs' secondary in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Kelly had 22 career interceptions with the Buccaneers, including a game-saving pick in the end zone against Washington last season. But for the third time in five years Kelly battled injuries all season and he lost his starting job to Phillip Buchanon.

The Bucs may need to find a new cornerback now that Brian Kelly is opting out of his deal. Dallas cornerback Jacques Reeves, who will be an unrestricted free agent, talked about the Bucs in his interview with Scout.com's Ed Thompson. See what he had to say In this premium feature exclusive to Bucsblitz.com.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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