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[NFL] Lynch to Leave Bucs


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TAMPA, Fla. -- Five-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch won't be back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season.

Although the Bucs had not yet officially released the 32-year-old, Lynch said Thursday he was given permission to talk to other teams after general manager Bruce Allen turned down his request to restructure a contract that would have paid him $4.1 million in 2004 and $5 million in 2005.

Lynch will be released later Thursday, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton.

Lynch said the Bucs never made him an offer and that Allen made it clear "it wasn't an option to be back in Tampa."

"I take great pride in the fact that in my career in the NFL I have never and will never play for a contract, rather any success I've had is the result of my play, my passion for the game I love, and the game I respect so much," Lynch said in a news conference held at a radio station in his hometown of San Diego and broadcast live in Tampa.

"Those values never changed in this process. This decision was not a result of my unwillingness to restructure my contract. ... As a result, I will be playing football next year for a different team."

Lynch requested an opportunity to talk to other teams before Tampa Bay officially severed ties with him. He likely will be released, although Allen said the Bucs also would explore the prospect of a trade once Lynch settled on his destination.

"Everyone respects who he is and what he's brought to the game of football. But at this time we're going to move forward," Allen said. "We decided the best way to move forward is allow him to talk to other teams and find a home that would be best for him and his family."

Allen declined to discuss specifics about talks with Lynch or whether the Bucs decided they didn't want the veteran safety back at any price.

"I don't discuss contract negotiations," Allen said, adding that it was in the team's best interest to turn to younger players, like fourth-year pro Jermaine Phillips, at Lynch's position.

"You don't replace John Lynch. I understand what this means," the general manager said. "But we will overcome this and we will become a better team."

Tampa Bay released five players and restructured the contracts of linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Brian Kelly and offensive lineman Kerry Jenkins to create room under the NFL's $80.6 million salary cap.

The team has signed eight players in the past week, including former Oakland running back Charlie Garner, while ignoring the highest-profile Tampa Bay free agent on the open market, defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Sapp's agent said Tuesday that the seven-time Pro Bowl selection had not yet received an offer from the Bucs and would begin talking to other teams.

Lynch has played his entire 11-year career in Tampa Bay and along with Sapp and Brooks helped transform the Bucs from the laughingstock of the league into Super Bowl champions. He was bothered part of last season by a shoulder injury that kept him out of two games and required offseason surgery.

The safety said he's fine and looking forward to a fresh start elsewhere, even though he'll remain a "Buccaneer at heart."

"I was saddened and shocked," Lynch said, "but I'm very much excited for the opportunity."

Among the teams that have expressed an interest in him are the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets.

During the news conference, Lynch thanked former Bucs and current Colts coach Tony Dungy for giving him a chance to become a star, and he retains a close relationship with Jets coach and former Bucs assistant Herman Edwards.

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wow, that is big news... Lynch was an essential part of the bucs defense. It would be almost impossible to find a safety with his skill and intensity.

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Im going to remember this year as the yeaf of the sad departures... whats next? Emmit Smith retiring? well, I hope he retires, he still can do it with dignity

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Ouch, that is pretty bad. First Johnson, then Sapp, and now Lynch. There must be something really wrong with that team. I do not know who is doing a worse job holding onto their players, the 49ers or the Bucs.

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Ouch, that is pretty bad. First Johnson, then Sapp, and now Lynch. There must be something really wrong with that team. I do not know who is doing a worse job holding onto their players, the 49ers or the Bucs.

the Broncos...

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I bet you a lot of teams will want his services ;)

yep...dallas would be anice choice, play for the tuna. or the pats...but they don't seem to be big on expensive players when their backups can do the job.

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Teams that need to stop the run need John Lynch. The Colts would be a great place to go, this is the kind of thing Indi needs to get them over the hill. He isn't the greatest safety in the world, but not to many people scare recievers or running backs like Lynch coming full speed up the middle.

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