Alstott's deal with Bucs ends talk of '07 retirement

Six-time Pro Bowl fullback Mike Alstott, one of the most popular and productive players in Tampa Bay history, will return to the Buccaneers for at least one more season.

Alstott, 33, on Thursday signed a one-year contract that will keep him with the team for a 12th season. The deal, believed to be similar to the $1.5 million contract under which Alstott played in 2006, ends speculation that he might retire.

Two years ago, Alstott began planning for retirement but then changed his mind, in part because he felt the Bucs might be poised to regain their playoff status. At the conclusion of the 2006 season, Alstott indicated that, if he returned for 2007, it would be to help the club regain respectability.

While his on-field role diminished in 2006, Alstott remains a key part of the franchise, and Tampa Bay's staff clearly wanted him back this season. Plus, if starting fullback Jerald Sewell departs in free agency, as anticipated, Alstott could see his playing time increase.

It is believed that, in contract negotiations with the Bucs over the past week, Alstott sought some assurances he would play more in 2007.

Last season, despite appearing in all 16 games, Alstott rushed for just 171 yards and three touchdowns on 60 carries. He also caught 21 passes for 85 yards. But he lost his longtime role as the team's short-yardage and goal-line go-to guy for much of the season, and that was said to have been a disappointment for him.

The former Purdue standout, a second-round choice in the 1996 draft, has appeared in 158 games for the Bucs, with 137 starts. He has carried 1,359 times for 5,088 yards and 58 touchdowns, and caught 305 passes for 2,284 yards and 13 scores.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.