Clayton's Bucs career appears to be near an unceremonious end

Will Thursday night's preseason finale be wide receiver Michael Clayton's final one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

He hopes not, but signs seem to point to it, The St. Petersburg Times reported Thursday. The Bucs informed Clayton during the offseason that they were attempting to trade him, then this past Saturday, he was stapled to the bench during the team's third preseason game.

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"When there was trade talk a few months ago, (offensive coordinator Greg) Olson came and told me, 'Hey, we're going to try and shop you around and see what's out there,'" Clayton said. "I said, "Hey, I can understand that.'

"They've been totally honest and up front with me, which is another reason I've been able to keep a cool mind in this thing. ... At this point, the only thing I can control is what I can control, and that's getting ready to play."

Three factors are working against Clayton in his bid to continue his career with the Bucs. One is the five-year, $26 million contract that he signed before last season. A second is his production (16 receptions for 230 yards and one touchdown during the 2009 season). The third is that the Bucs use their receivers extensively on special teams.

"The (defensive backs) used to own the extra slots. But I've got some receivers on this team that are tough, that can tackle," Bucs coach Raheem Morris said. "I've got some receivers on this team that don't mind blocking, that don't mind mixing it up. They're starting to show their skill level and development."

Clayton has been the model teammate, refusing to have a bad attitude, not missing a practice and spending hours on end mentoring young receivers such as Mike Williams and Sammie Stroughter.

So if this is it with the Bucs, Clayton won't go there.

"I don't believe that. I'll believe it when it happens," he said. "But I can't see it. I can't even live in that world."

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