Shortly after they made their last pick in this year's draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did some not-so-minor roster cleaning, dropping five players who no longer fit their plans for the 2010 season.
The fact wide receiver Michael Clayton wasn't among those let go left many shaking their heads in wonderment. There is, however, a logical explanation for why Clayton still is and probably will be a Buccaneer through the 2010 season.
Quite simply, the Bucs still owe Clayton a lot of money. The contract Clayton signed in 2009 included $10.5 million in guaranteed payouts. At this stage, it's far too early to accept a loss on that investment.
Even after Clayton, the team's first-round draft pick in 2004, caught only 16 passes for 230 yards and one touchdown last season.
There is also hope new receiver's coach Eric Yarber will find a way to somehow turn Clayton's usually productive training camps into more productive regular seasons, but the money is the big thing.
It may eventually go down as one of general manager Mark Dominik's greatest blunders, but the decision to give Clayton a five-year, $24 million contract last year is what's keeping him on the roster.
Starting next year, Clayton's contract becomes a little less onerous. As it does, the chances of Clayton being cut will increase. Unless, of course, Clayton starts playing up to the terms of his contract.
That's always a possibility, but with rookie draft picks Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams waiting in the wings, Clayton's chances of playing are slipping fast.
The Bucs expect to get many highlight reel moments out of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in the coming years. It may take some doing, though, for McCoy to supplant what currently is his top highlight reel moment.
"It was in little league when I tackled three people on one play,'' McCoy said. "They ran a play and I came through the line and the quarterback didn't know who to give it to, so I just grabbed everybody.
"They were all right there and I was like, 'How do I play this?' After that everybody looked at me like, 'Did you just grab three people?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' That should let you know how big of a kid I was."
McCoy was 11 at the time. At age 12, he weighed 238 pounds.
"I remember weighing in and afterward getting into the car and my sister asking me how much I weighed," McCoy said. "I said, 'Just 238,' and she was like, "G, you're 12.' ''
Changing of the guard?
A player to watch through the offseason workout program and into training camp is offensive lineman Xavier Fulton.
The Bucs drafted Fulton out of Illinois in the fifth round in 2009 with a plan to work him primarily at tackle. Because of his tremendous athleticism, however, the Bucs also have worked Fulton at guard, so there's a chance he could push Jeremy Zuttah for playing time at left guard.
The Bucs are looking for a permanent replacement there after releasing Arron Sears. At 6-foot-5 and 301 pounds, Fulton is built like a guard, but needs some polish and to play a little meaner.