New Buc signee Terry Jolly went to the same Georgia high school as Jacquez Green
It's almost like the draft is still going.
On Monday morning, half a day after the 2001 NFL Draft ended with nine new players for the Buccaneers, Tampa Bay agreed to terms with 15 undrafted players. Later in the afternoon, two more college free agents joined the list.
The roster grew again on Thursday morning when the team announced the signing of Clemson defensive tackle Terry Jolly. Jolly joins former Tigers teammate Alex Ardley, a rookie cornerback who was among the 17 free agents added by Tampa Bay on Monday.
Jolly might also see a familiar name from high school on the Bucs' roster. The Fort Valley, Georgia native played at the same high school, Peach County, as current Buccaneer receiver Jacquez Green. That school also boasts former all-pro linebacker Greg Lloyd.
In four seasons at Clemson, the last two as a starter, Jolly racked up 136 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, five sacks, two interceptions and three forced fumbles. He won all-conference honors as a junior with 58 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception, which he returned 20 yards for a touchdown against Duke.
Jolly may not have officially signed until Thursday, but he was contacted by the Buccaneers on Sunday evening immediately after the draft, as were all the eventual signees. Presumably, Jolly's negotiations just took a bit longer.
Though the second day of the draft received most of the media coverage on Sunday, the seventh round was, in effect, the calm before the storm. As soon as the final pick is made, and the list of undrafted players is thus finalized, the sales calls begin.
Picture 31 war rooms springing into action simultaneously, working dozens of phone lines. The object: to track down the most coveted remaining players – and/or their agents - and convince them to come to your training camp instead of a competitor's. There are really only two main selling points: money and opportunity.
Though teams are not likely to get into bidding wars with these free agents, they do make an effort to convince them of the greater opportunity in their town. For instance, a team pursuing a free agent defensive lineman who is also being wooed by another club might point out that their competitor already has 15 defensive linemen on the roster.
Of course, it is possible that the money issue will be the deciding factor. Teams are free to offer whatever signing bonus they wish, as long as it's cap friendly, and a player might get one offer for $1,000 and another for $20,000.
In the Bucs' war room this weekend, the list of people making phone calls as soon as the seventh round ended included the regional and professional scouts, the assistant coaches and Director of Player Personnel Jerry Angelo. Often, a scouts would seek out the agent, who would have a good feel for all of the player's options, and a coach would attempt to get the player on the line to describe the opportunity available in Tampa. Angelo, who has myriad connections born of many years in the business, served as the 'closer' on occasion.
Obviously, the opportunity in Tampa was sufficiently appealing to at least 18 undrafted free agents, perhaps because the team has a history of giving them a fair shake. Among the notable Buccaneers in recent seasons who came on as little-known college free agents are LB Jeff Gooch, WR Karl Williams, RB Rabih Abdullah, TE Todd Yoder, CB Floyd Young, G Jorge Diaz and K Michael Husted.