We explained earlier today the realities of having a vested veteran on the roster. If he’s cut after Week One, his full salary essentially is guaranteed.
In Tampa, we’re told (which means that we have at least one source, so please don’t call or e-mail us to confirm it) that the Bucs didn’t want to pay running back Derrick Ward the $3.25 million base salary he was due to earn this year. With Ward earning only one start in 2009 and gaining only 409 yards, the Bucs decided to rely instead on undrafted free agent Kareem Huggins.
That said, we’re also told (i.e., at least one source) that the Bucs didn’t ask Ward to take a pay cut in order to stick around. So the situation apparently runs deeper that money.
There are whispers that Ward has changed since gaining 1,025 yards in 2008 with the Giants and then jumping to Tampa as a free agent. We’ve heard (i.e., at least one source) that he was a great teammate when a member of the Giants, and that he has been more difficult to get along with during his one-year-plus in Tampa.
Playing for a losing team after not getting the kind of financial offer he surely envisioned in free agency could be contributing to any actual change in personality, if the whispers are accurate. Either way, he now has a clean slate and a chance to play for another team.
Heck, maybe he’ll even rejoin Earth and Fire in New York.