With the new collective bargaining agreement in the NFL, rookie contracts have become little more than a formality with lengths and dollar amounts bargained for by the Players’ Association rather than the player’s agent. So it’s not a surprise that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already inked two of their six draft selections to their first contracts.
Defensive end and Steven Means and Running back Mike James both signed their first contracts, and while the terms were not made public, it can be assumed the deals will both be around 2,000,000 over four years with a 100,000 signing bonus, based on the contracts given to fifth and sixth round players last season.
There has been plenty of discussion about Means, a rookie out of Buffalo who was unheralded before the draft but caught the eye of Mark Dominik during a workout over the offseason. He played linebacker in college, but the Buccaneers have announced that he’ll play defensive end in Tampa Bay. He’s a bit of a project, but has the motor and athleticism to develop into an interesting defensive end for the team by the end of his rookie deal.
Mike James could find himself as high as second on the depth chart on opening day, as his versatility and reliable nature make him a solid option to backup the versatile Doug Martin. The Buccaneers would then have the versatile Brian Leonard (see a trend here?) to round out the running back depth chart, with the possible addition of Michael Smith as a running back and return man.
The Buccaneers still have four unsigned rookies, but there will be no drama when it comes to signing Johnthan Banks, Mike Glennon, Akeem Spence, and William Gholston. The affordable nature of the contracts means the Buccaneers will still have some cap space to spend, and that means an extension for Mike Williams may come soon, as well.