TAMPA - The Bucs began recouping some of the draft picks they gave up to get tight end Kellen Winslow and quarterback Josh Freeman on Thursday by trading tight end Alex Smith to the New England Patriots.
Smith, who came to the Bucs as a third-round pick out of Stanford in 2005, brought back an as-yet undisclosed pick in next year's draft.
During his four seasons with the Bucs, Smith appeared in 58 games (43 starts) and caught 129 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He caught 21 balls for 250 yards and three touchdowns last year but became expendable when the Bucs re-signed free agent tight end Jerramy Stevens, who has emerged as the team's top pass catcher at the position.
With Winslow, Stevens and blocking tight end John Gilmore on the roster Smith had been the subject of trade rumors for several weeks.
The Bucs are looking to recoup the second- and fifth-round picks they gave up for Winslow and the sixth-round pick they traded away in an effort to move up two spots to get Freeman.
Reporter Roy Cummings can be reached at (813) 259-7979.