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Buccaneers in three-team competition for Chris Conte

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a "three-team race" for Chris Conte's services, according to Rand Getlin. The other two teams are the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants, who apparently still think they haven't spent enough money on defenders in free agency.

This three-team race is somewhat mystifying, given Chris Conte's play over the last three seasons. He was a disaster in Chicago after Lovie Smith left there. He was reunited with Lovie Smith with the Bucs last season and played some solid football, but was hardly a difference maker. The Bucs have had some talks with Conte about re-signing him, and it would make sense -- but he's hardly unique on the market, as there are several free agent safeties available who could make a bigger impact, like Walter Thurmond or Reggie Nelson.

Conte's popularity is somewhat odd for one other reason: he's only ever played well under Lovie Smith, at least in the NFL. And Lovie Smith is now coaching Illinois. In the NCAA.