As every team gears up for the opening of camp, no team had a busier day Thursday than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
First they signed their first-round draft choice, the No. 4 overall selection, defensive end Gaines Adams, to a six-year, $45.8 million contract that includes $18.5 million worth of guaranteed money.
Then Tampa Bay signed both its second-round picks, offensive lineman Arron Sears and Sabby Piscitelli.
And then, in the stunner of the day, Tampa Bay cut longtime Pro Bowl defensive end Simeon Rice after he failed his physical. Apparently, Rice still has not recovered from his shoulder problems and Tampa Bay wiped Rice and his $7.2 million base salary off its books.
And there are other intriguing financial devlelopments in Tampa.
When players reported to training camp in Orlando on Thursday night, Jake Plummer was not one of them.
On Friday, the Buccaneers officially will place Plummer on the Reserve/Did Not Report list. By doing so, Plummer will be in violation of his contract, and he will owe the Buccaneers $7 million in bonus money -– money that Tampa intends to pursue. Additionally, the Buccaneers also plan to fine Plummer $14,000 a day for not being in camp, the amount they are allowed to impose under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
But as Tampa Bay has pointed out in the past, a player cannot unilaterally retire. A team first must accept a player's retirement papers, and the Buccaneers have no plans to do that for Plummer, meaning he is in default of his contract. He actually was in default when he failed to show up to minicamps, but the Buccaneers opted to leave the issue alone for the time being. No longer.
Plummer might decide to retire, as he has insisted to his friends and family. But the Bucccaneers are one tough customer. They're planning to make the decision a costly one for Plummer.
Tampa's moves just might be the start of them this weekend, too.
Culpepper has said he wanted a deal -– preferable a one-year deal -– in place by the start of camp. Tampa clearly would like to have another quarterback in camp, as the Buccaneers feel they never have enough of them.
And now that they have signed their top three picks, cut Rice, and counted out Plummer, Tampa is free to pursue Culpepper, in what might be the next big headline out of Tampa.
Back in elementary school, class started with attendance. Now, it is the same with training camp.
Today and throughout the weekend, attendance will be taken in Foxboro, Mass., River Falls, Wisc., Orlando, Fla., and sites of other training camps and not all players will be present.
Barring an unexpected last-minute negotiating breakthrough, neither New England cornerback Asante Samuel nor Kansas City running back Larry Johnson will be in training camp Friday when their teams are going through drills.
Samuel is the Patriots designated franchise player, but New England has not made an offer to the cornerback's satisification. The Patriots have offered a multi-year deal they deemed to be fair, but Samuel believes he is worth more. The two sides have continued talking, and spoke as recently as Thursday morning, but no breakthrough is in sight.
Now it looks as if the holdout could last through the summer and until the week of the regular season opener, when Samuel would be scheduled to receive his first regular-season paycheck.
Kansas City's negotiations with Johnson seem even further off. Johnson is vowing not to report to camp until he has a new contract extension to tack on to the one year he has remaining on a deal that is scheduled to pay him $1.9 million this season.
The Chiefs and Johnson have talked regularly, but they are somewhere in the vicinity of $14 million in guaranteed money apart. It is a gap that can be bridged, but both sides know it will not be easy, and it threatens to make Johnson's holdout long and protracted and ugly.
THE OTHER BUSY TEAM
Aside from Tampa, Cleveland had the league's next busiest day.
First, Cleveland reached agreement in principle with the draft's third overall pick, Joe Thomas, on a five-year, $43 million deal that includes $23 million worth of guaranteed money.
Then, Cleveland also finalized a four-year contract agreement with second-round pick Eric Wright. Now Thomas and Wright are expected in Cleveland's camp on Friday. And Cleveland's other first-round pick, Brady Quinn, is not.
Quinn had to wait a long time on draft day. And now, almost unfairly, Quinn has to wait again.