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Tampa Bay releases Jones

  |   Oct. 9, 2002 at 3:46 PM
TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 9 (UPI) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dumped defensive end Marcus Jones from the injured reserve list. The move brought an end to Jones' seven-year tenure with the team.

Jones had been placed on IR Sept. 1, when the Bucs reduced their roster to the regular-season limit. The former University of North Carolina star suffered a knee injury in the first quarter of the team's third preseason game Aug. 24 against Washington.

Before 2002, Jones had been a starter for the Bucs for the previous two seasons at both defensive end positions.

In 2000, a career year, he recorded 13 of his 24 career sacks while starting all 16 games.

At the conclusion of the 2001 season, during which he started the first 15 games before suffering a shoulder injury, Jones was placed on the team's five-man unprotected list for the Houston Texans expansion draft, but was not selected by the Texans. He also had been left unprotected for a similar draft for the Cleveland Browns in 1999, after struggling through his first three seasons as a Buccaneer, but was not selected then either.

"Marcus just didn't fit into our plans," a Bucs official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Tampa Tribune.

His agent, Greg Williams, said the release was not a surprise.

"He was put on the expansion list twice, he was on IR with the understanding that he had to sign a new deal or be released," Williams said. "He's reconciled to the outcome. Marcus has been there for seven years and has worked very hard, but perhaps it's in his best interest to move on."

Jones' $1.5 million base salary this season was set to escalate to $2 million in 2003. His release will provide some salary cap room because the remainder of this year's salary won't count against the cap.

Jones originally joined the team as the second of two first-round picks in 1996, along with California defensive end Regan Upshaw out of California. He was the 22nd player selected overall that year.

Jones had been supplanted in the starting lineup by Greg Spires. Through five games this season, Spires has 14 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks in helping Tampa Bay to a No. 2 overall ranking.

Jones is now a free agent who can try to latch on with another team.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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