Bucs sign Blount, release Carpenter

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced a few minor house-keeping details.

As we previously reported, receiver Preston Parker has signed his tender as an exclusive-rights free agent. The team also announced running back LeGarrette Blount has signed the exclusive-rights tender, which means his salary will be $540,000 for 2012. The Bucs also announced they have released reserve quarterback Rudy Carpenter.

The Blount situation is worth noting. There was a time at the end of the 2010 season when Blount looked like a guy the Bucs might want to lock up with a long-term deal. He was coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season as an undrafted rookie and the Bucs looked like they had stumbled onto something great. But the only one stumbling last year was Blount. His numbers were down, except for fumbles (he had five and lost three). The previous coaching staff didn’t trust Blount enough to use him as a pass-blocker and that made the offense predictable.

New coach Greg Schiano already has made it clear that Blount needs to hold onto the ball if he’s going to get playing time. It’s pretty obvious the Bucs will add at least one running back in the draft or free agency and Blount is going to have to compete to keep his job as Tampa Bay’s main running back. There’s no doubt this is a huge year for Blount. If he can win the job and have a strong season, then the Bucs might be willing to give him a long-term deal, even though he would be a restricted free agent next year.

Carpenter’s release isn’t a huge surprise. Although Carpenter didn’t have much upside, the previous coaching staff liked him because he knew the offensive system. But the Bucs are putting in a new offense and they’ve brought in Dan Orlovsky to serve as the experienced backup to Josh Freeman. They’ll probably look for a developmental quarterback late in the draft or among undrafted free agents.