Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da'Quan Bowers was arrested at LaGuardia Airport after a loaded .40-caliber handgun was discovered his carry-on bag, NBC New York reports.
Bowers, who will turn 23 later this week, was scheduled to fly to Raleigh, North Carolina on US Airways. Bowers will be charged with two counts of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Those charges carry a minimum sentence of 3 1/2 years in prison and were the same charges brought against Plaxico Burress, who would plead to a lesser charge and served 20 months in prison.
"We are aware of the situation and are gathering information. We will withhold comment until we know all the facts," Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik said in a statement released by the team.
Bowers has posted bail and is due back in court on April 11.
A two-year starter at Clemson, Bowers was projected to be a Top 5 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft before concerns over a right knee that required surgery to repair torn meniscus in January of 2011. Bowers fell out of the first round and was selected by the Buccaneers in the second round. Bowers started six of 16 games as a rookie, posting 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Bowers suffered a torn Achilles last offseason and opened the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list. Bowers came off the bench in 10 games, posting 13 tackles and three sacks, six tackles for a loss and seven hits on opposing quarterbacks.
Bowers signed a four-year, $3.858 million contract that included $2.229 million in guaranteed money as a rookie and is signed through 2014 at non-guaranteed base salaries of $725,512 in 2013 and $900,768 in 2014.
The Buccaneers had 27 sacks in 2012 and the possibility of playing without Bowers makes retaining defensive end Michael Bennett, an unrestricted free agent who had nine sacks last season. Bennett could receive the franchise tag, which based on a projected league-wide cap number of $121 million, would cost the Buccaneers $10.993 million in fully guaranteed base salary in 2013.
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