- Associated Press - Friday, July 25, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Carl Nicks has abandoned his bid to get back on the field with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The team and injured two-time Pro Bowl guard mutually agreed Friday to “part ways” after two disappointing seasons in which the 29-year-old offensive linemen appeared in just nine games after signing a five-year, $47.5 million contract in free agency.

General manager Jason Licht declined to discuss details of the split, calling Nicks a “very prideful athlete” who did everything he could to try to put his injuries behind him and rejoin the team.

“He wanted what we best for the Buccaneers. He didn’t want to lead us down the wrong path,” Licht said during the first of two weather-related stoppages that ended practice early on the opening evening of training camp.

“The whole time we were hopeful he could play,” the GM added. “Carl was honest with us. We were honest with Carl.”

Nicks didn’t miss a game in four seasons with the New Orleans Saints, however a left toe injury two years ago and the recurrence of a MRSA infection in his left foot kept him off the field for most of his stay with the Bucs.

“I’d like to thank the Buccaneers organization for working with me as I have attempted to get myself back on the football field,” Nicks said in a statement released by the team.

“However, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to step away from the game,” the seventh-year pro added. “This was by no means an easy decision, but I believe that it is what is best for me and my family as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”

Nicks started 70 of 73 games he appeared in during a six-year career. He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Saints in 2008, became a starter in the third week of his rookie year and helped New Orleans win its only Super Bowl title five years ago.

His departure leaves new coach Lovie Smith with an additional spot to fill on an offensive line that’s been overhauled since the end of last season with the release of guard Davin Joseph and tackle Donald Penn and a trade that sent center Jeremy Zuttah to the Baltimore Ravens.

The Bucs signed tackle Anthony Collins and center Evan Dietrich-Smith in free agency. Smith said sixth-year pro Jamon Meredith moves up the depth chart into the position Nicks was trying to regain.

“It’s a shame we didn’t get a chance to work with him on the football field,” Smith said. “Carl worked hard this summer to get back, and sometimes your body just won’t allow you to do that. … I understand the decision he had to make.”

Lightning forced the team off the field a mere nine minutes into practice. Players returned after a delay of nearly two hours, then was forced back inside for the day after another 40 minutes.

“Tough day. That’s how it goes sometimes,” Smith said.

“As much as anything you want to get that first practice underway, which we did,” the coach added. “We got a little bit of individual work in. It’s not an ideal first day for us … but tomorrow’s another day.”

Story Continues →