Last Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they "mutually agreed" to part ways with Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks, who signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal with the team in 2012 as a free agent. Nicks came over to the Buccaneers from the New Orleans Saints, a key division rival. However, he only played in nine games over two seasons with the Buccaneers, and he had to deal with a number of pretty serious injuries, including a lingering toe injury and a MRSA infection.
The Buccaneers decided to keep Nicks on the roster for the time being, as he was attempting to make a comeback, but ultimately he missed all of the team's workouts and simply could not get healthy.
"I'd like to thank the Buccaneers organization for working with me as I have attempted to get myself back on the football field," Nicks stated in a press release. "However, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to step away from the game. This was by no means an easy decision, but I believe that it is what is best for me and my family, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."
A large portion of Nicks' salary for this season was guaranteed, but the fact that the Buccaneers announced a mutual agreement implies that some sort of financial settlement was agreed upon.
Now that Nicks is no longer with the team, the Buccaneers certainly are lacking experience at the guard position, and they will most likely have to rely on Jamon Meredith and rookie Kadeem Edwards out of Tennessee State to replace Nicks' elite-level talent. The Buccaneers could also sign a veteran guard to boost the level of experience at the position, but that will be tough to do as the team does not have too much money available to spend on additional free agents.
In other news from Buccaneers training camp, running back Jeff Demps, a former Olympic sprinter, is really catching the eye of the coaching staff and other onlookers at camp. Demps obviously has incredible speed, and his speed may be useful in offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's new offensive system. And according to various reports, the Bucs have been switching things up at the guard positions due to the loss of Nicks. Oniel Cousins, Meredith, Edwards, and Patrick Omameh have all been getting reps with the first team, as well as with the second team, so it looks like there will be an open competition at both guard openings.
Overall, head coach Lovie Smith's presence has been calm and collected at training camp, a stark contrast to the way things were under former head coach Greg Schiano and his staff, who often yelled and screamed at the players. Smith's calming effect may have more of an impact than Schiano's techniques, but that remains to be seen.