Old Bucs stalwarts find new homes

Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2004

It hasn't taken long for the old Buccaneers to find new homes.

Safety John Lynch, released by Tampa Bay last week, agreed to a deal Monday with Denver, instantly becoming a division rival of old teammate Warren Sapp, who signed Saturday night with the Raiders.

That leaves just Derrick Brooks and Mike Alstott left in Tampa of the self-styled group of the ''guys who wore orange,'' members of the Bucs who were there when Tampa Bay was the NFL's worst franchise. They changed uniforms shortly afterward, improved dramatically and won the Super Bowl after the 2002 season.

They're still talking about colors, just different ones.

''The big, bad silver and black coming together,'' Sapp said Monday as he was introduced in Oakland after agreeing Saturday night to a seven-year $36.6 million contract.

Sapp's personality fits perfectly with the Raiders and their self-cultivated outlaw image, and coach Norv Turner said he feels the 31-year-old defensive tackle has plenty of good seasons left.

''Anyone who doesn't understand the significance of this signing for the Raiders ... has never had to game-plan against him,'' Turner said. ''He brings great passion and enthusiasm. He knows how to play the game.''

The 32-year-old Lynch had narrowed his choices to the Broncos and New York Jets, coached by Herman Edwards, a close friend from their days together in Tampa.

He settled on another team that no longer wears orange: Denver.

The Broncos also added two other defensive players over 30, signing former San Diego defensive end Raylee Johnson and agreeing to terms with defensive tackle Luther Elliss, a one-time Pro Bowler in Detroit who has been hampered by injury. Johnson is 33, Elliss turned 31 on Monday.

Tampa Bay traded another standby from the Super Bowl team, receiver Keyshawn Johnson, to Dallas last week for Joey Galloway.

In other deals:

The Jets turned to former Seattle safety Reggie Tongue once they lost out on Lynch. Tongue will replace Sam Garnes, who was released after two seasons with the team.

''Reggie was one of the players we targeted at the strong safety position,'' Edwards said. ''He adds toughness and leadership to our defense, and has proven to be a productive and durable player.''

The Jets re-signed five players and added long-snapper Randy Chevrier, who played the last two seasons in the CFL.

Houston signed former Pittsburgh tight end Mark Bruener. The Steelers also released safety Brent Alexander, a 10-year veteran who led them in interceptions last season with four.

Minnesota released tight end Hunter Goodwin, an eight-year veteran who became expendable when the Vikings signed free agent Jermaine Wiggins and kept starter Jim Kleinsasser with a five-year contract.

Minnesota also has a group of promising young players at that position, including Sean Berton, Richard Angulo and Steve Farmer.

Atlanta signed backup running back James Fenderson and punter Jonathan Kilgo.

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