Tampa Bay Coach Ray Perkins, whose Buccaneers teams never have won more than five games in one season, became the second head coaching casualty of the NFL season when he was fired yesterday by team owner Hugh Culverhouse.

A high-ranking source within the organization, who asked not to be identified, said Washington's Joe Gibbs -- should he be available -- heads a list of coaches the Buccaneers would like to hire.

Gibbs, the Bucs' offensive coordinator in 1976, is under contract with the Redskins and is currently unavailable to coach elsewhere.

"My contract is the only thing I've managed to keep secret around here," Gibbs said last night. "I'll be here as long as Mr. Cooke {team owner Jack Kent Cooke} wants me."

The source said after Gibbs, the Buccaneers would be interested in former 49ers coach Bill Walsh, now a commentator with NBC Sports, then Philadelphia Eagles Coach Buddy Ryan, who is in the last year of his contract.

"I know Culverhouse would love to see Joe Gibbs here if he was available," said the source. "He combines the intellect with the physical {offensive line}. He would be perfect to help us rebuild."

The source said that Ryan "could do wonders with our defense."

Walsh said: "If they are considering me, then I thank them for the compliments. But I don't think I'll be coaching next year. I love what I'm doing with NBC."

Asked if he would consider returning to coaching in 1992, Walsh said: "That's something I would have to seriously think about. But I don't know if I have the energy to go through another rebuilding process like I did with the 49ers."

Perkins met with the team early yesterday afternoon, followed by Culverhouse. According to one player, Perkins told the team, "I've been benched. I love you guys," then left the room.

Assistant head coach Richard Williamson has been named on an interim basis to replace Perkins.

Culverhouse said he will ask Perkins, who has one year remaining on his contract worth about $800,000 a year in base salary, to remain with the Buccaneers in some capacity.

In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Perkins had a record of 19-41. The surprise of the firing is the timing: Tampa Bay beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-17, on Sunday to end a six-game losing streak.

The Buccaneers are 5-8, one loss short of guaranteeing their eighth consecutive losing season.

Culverhouse predicted at the beginning of the season that Tampa Bay would win 11 games.

Culverhouse told reporters that the decision to fire Perkins was a "painful one. But I just didn't feel the team was making the progress that it should."

Culverhouse said that Williamson, an assistant with the Buccaneers since 1987 and head coach at Memphis State from 1975 to 1980, will be given consideration for the permanent job.

Quarterback Vinny Testaverde, Perkins's top draft pick in his first year as coach, said he couldn't understand the timing of the firing.

"I felt good going home {Sunday} night, not only about winning the game but all the speculation about him losing his job," said Testaverde. "I thought we were going to come back as a team, head coach included. And instead today, we're all going home a little disappointed."