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Bucs might take back Dunn

The Don™

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By ROY CUMMINGS, The Tampa Tribune

Published: March 2, 2008

TAMPA - Two days, three confirmed signings and still no splash. Unless, of course, you consider the signing of a veteran defensive end with two career starts and one sack a splash transaction.

That was the biggest news to come out of One Buc Place on Saturday, when the Bucs signed backup defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson from the Chiefs, officially announced the signing of blocking tight end John Gilmore and entertained pass-catching tight end Ben Troupe.

Throw in the signing Friday of center Jeff Faine and the Bucs still haven't made the impact moves many thought they would make. Hang on, though. Something big could be coming.

There is increasing talk around the NFL that the Bucs are waiting for situations in other cities to be resolved before making their splash move and that one such situation is playing out in Atlanta.

The Falcons are making a play for Michael Turner, the Chargers running back who is considered the best back on the market.

The thinking is that if Turner signs with Atlanta, former Buc Warrick Dunn will be released. If that happens, the Bucs could make a play on Dunn, whose loss has been lamented by Bucs coach Jon Gruden since it happened seven years ago.

Another top-level player on the Bucs' radar is wide receiver Bryant Johnson (Cardinals). Johnson was in Buffalo on Saturday, but he has tentative plans to visit the Bucs if he doesn't reach a deal there.

That's good news for Tampa Bay, which lost out in the Devery Henderson sweepstakes on Saturday when he stayed with the Saints.

The Bucs also are believed to be one of the teams interested in signing receiver Javon Walker, who was released by the Broncos late Friday.

Walker reportedly has drawn interest from at least 10 teams, but even after signing Faine to the richest contract ever given to a center, the Bucs still have plenty of cap space.

That means they may also have an inside track on signing Randall Gay, arguably the best corner still on the market. Gay was visiting the Saints on Saturday, but after hearing the basic parameters of what the Bucs would offer, Gay's agent committed to a meeting with Tampa Bay on Monday.

The Bucs also are believed to have the inside track on signing Troupe, a former Florida Gator who has been something of a disappointment since coming to the league as a second-round pick of the Titans in 2004.

Troupe was in Tampa all day Saturday, and his agent said he had no plans to make other visits because he was confident the Bucs would make Troupe the kind of offer necessary to land him.

Troupe would give the Bucs a second pass-catching tight end to complement starter Alex Smith and likely would fill the role handled by Jerramy Stevens last season.

The addition of Wilkerson, meanwhile, bolsters the Bucs' depth up front defensively. Though he has made just two starts, Wilkerson is considered a versatile player.

He can play either end position or tackle and has experience in the Tampa 2 scheme. His problem is that he struggles to finish plays as a pass rusher and lacks the strength to be a dominant run stopper.

In other developments, the team reportedly has set up a Monday visit with linebacker Teddy Lehman (Lions). Fellow linebacker Demorrio Williams also is slated to visit the Bucs on Monday, as is Gay, whose importance increased after targets Drayton Florence (Jaguars) and Jacques Reeves (Texans) signed elsewhere.

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