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Sapp signs seven-year contract with Raiders

| Sunday, March 21, 2004

TAMPA, Fla. - Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Warren Sapp agreed to terms on a seven-year, $36.6 million contract with the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, ending his nine-year relationship with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"The bad news is I won't be back with the Bucs," Sapp said by telephone from Miami. "The good news is I'm a Raider."

The surprise move came only a day after Sapp's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said the one-time NFL defensive player of the year was close to signing a four-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sapp's contract is expected to be signed within the next few days, pending the passing of a physical, the Raiders said.

"Warren Sapp is another popular player to join the organization just like a Jim Plunkett, a Rod Woodson, and a Jerry Rice," Raiders spokesman Artie Gigantino said.

Sapp will receive a $7 million signing bonus. He earned $6.6 million last year in the final season of a six-year, $36 million contract he signed in 1998.

Earlier this month, the 31-year-old tackle said he was optimistic about the prospect of re-signing with the Bucs. But that changed when his old team failed to make him an offer during the first week of the free agency period.

"We feel he's got a lot of football left in him and will make a positive contribution to the Oakland Raiders' defense the next couple of years," Gigantino said.

Sapp joined the Bucs as first-round draft pick out of Miami in 1995 and _ along with linebacker Derrick Brooks and safety John Lynch _ helped transform the Bucs from a laughingstock into Super Bowl champions.

Lynch was released last week after 11 seasons with Tampa Bay, a move that cleared about $4 million under the NFL salary cap.

Sapp leaves the only pro team he has played for two sacks shy of the franchise record of 78 1/2 held by Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon.

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