Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/21/12
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Free agent tight end Dallas Clark is most likely to sign with the Tampa Bay Bucs, as various Monday reports indicated in the wake of Kellen Winslow's announcement that he has been apprised to remain away from the team's OTA sessions because he no longer fits into the franchise's plans.

But the Bucs still have some competition for Clark's services, league sources told The Sports Xchange on Monday afternoon. The other two clubs Clark has visited with in recent weeks, New England and Kansas City, have remained in contact with him. It is not clear if the Pats or Chiefs have tendered formal contract proposals to Clark, but they have retained a dialogue with the nine-year veteran and his representatives.

A resolution of the three-pronged pursuit of the former Indianapolis star probably will come in the next day or two, most likely with him ending up with Tampa Bay, where he recently visited with coaches and team officials. But it appears that Clark, released by the Colts in March, has some options and at least a modicum of leverage in negotiations.

Interest in the onetime Pro Bowl tight end essentially debunks a recent report that he might never play again because of injuries. Last month, agent Neil Cornrich told The Sports Xchange that he "would be surprised" and that "it would be news to (Clark)" if the report was accurate.

Clark, who will be 33 next month, has started only 16 games (17 appearances) the past two seasons because of wrist and fibula injuries. For his career, he has 427 catches for 4,887 yards and 46 touchdowns. In 2010, his last healthy season and the only year in his career in which he started all 16 games, Clark had 100 catches.

If the Bucs trade or release Winslow, whose absence from early OTA sessions were said to have angered rookie coach Greg Schiano, the team would clearly need a tight end with the kind of receiving ability Clark has demonstrated in his career.

There are six other tight ends on the current Tampa Bay roster, in addition to Winslow, and none has more than a dozen career receptions. In fact, the six tight ends, two of whom are rookies, total only 19 receptions among them. Acquired from Cleveland in a 2009 trade, Winslow averaged 72.6 catches in his three seasons with the Bucs, and led the club in receptions each of the past three years.

Clark has generally been a "flexed" tight end much of his career, and the former Colts first-round choice was often aligned in the slot, or flanked as a wide receiver because of the matchup problems he created for secondaries. Because he is not regarded as a strong blocker, Clark might not be a perfect fit for the physical, run-first philosophy Schiano has espoused, but would provide a presence in the middle of the field for the passing game.

Even if the Bucs add Clark, second-year veteran Luke Stocker, a fourth-round pick in 2011 who started nine games as a rookie, could remain the starter because of his in-line blocking skills.

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