OL Marc Dile split his rookie season between the Bucs' active roster and practice squad
In the NFL, players who finish a season on a team's practice squad automatically become free agents after that team's final game.
Free agent life didn't last long, however, for six players from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2009 practice squad. On Friday, the Buccaneers re-signed cornerback Brandon Anderson, safety Emanuel Cook, offensive lineman Marc Dile, defensive end Maurice Evans, linebacker Lee Robinson and cornerback Stoney Woodson. All six were on Tampa Bay's practice squad at the end of the season with the exception of Evans, who finished the year on practice squad injured reserve.
Technically, those six signed what are known as "reserve/future" contracts. Essentially, that means they have signed a pact for the 2010 season, even though that league year doesn't officially start until the beginning of free agency at the end of February. Even teams that are still in the playoffs can do this, which keeps the playing field even for all 32 franchises since the reserve/future deals don't affect a team's 2009 roster.
Five of the six players the Buccaneers' re-signed on Friday joined the team at some point during the just-concluded season except Dile, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last spring. Three – Anderson, Dile and Evans – also spent time on Tampa Bay's active roster at some point during the season.
Anderson first joined the Bucs' practice squad on September 15. The 5-10, 179-pound defensive back spent the next 11 weeks on that crew before getting the call to the 53-man roster on November 30. Anderson then played in the Bucs' next three games, primarily on special teams, before being released on December 23 and signed back to the practice squad two days later. A four-year letterman at Akron, Anderson first signed as an undrafted free agent with Indianapolis in May and later saw preseason action with the Cleveland Browns.
The 5-10, 185-pound Cook was signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad on November 11, and he filled that role for the final eight weeks of the season. He also entered the league as an undrafted free agent, signing with the Jets in May after starring at South Carolina. He was eventually released by New York on the final roster cutdown on September 5. At South Carolina, he led the team in tackles in each of his last two seasons and was a second-team All-SEC choice in 2007.
Of the six, Dile has been with the Buccaneers the longest, and he also spent the most time on the active roster in '09. The former USF starter succeeded in grabbing one of the Bucs' 53 roster spots to open the season despite beginning as a tryout player during the team's rookie mini-camp in the first weekend of May. The versatile 6-4, 275-pound lineman was not picked up by a team during the initial wave of post-draft signings, so he accepted an invitation to the Bucs' camp, just a few miles from the USF campus, and quickly impressed. Dile was inactive for each of the Bucs' first five games in the regular season before being waived and then added to the practice squad for the remainder of the year. At USF, he never missed a game during his four seasons, persevering through a groin injury to make seven starts as a sophomore and then opening 25 of 26 contests over the last two years. He continued to help the team on both sides of the line in 2008 and finished with a total of 51 games played, tying a school record
Like Dile, Evans owned one of the Bucs' 53 active roster spots when the regular season began, though the rookie defensive end was released after being inactive for the opener against Dallas. The 6-2, 264-pound pass-rusher was claimed off waivers from the New York Giants on September 6, the day after the league-wide cut-down to 53-man rosters. After his release on September 14, he later returned to the team to perform on the practice squad on October 28. Evans sustained an injury during practice and two weeks later was placed on practice squad injured reserve. At Penn State, Evans was a 2007 finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end, after a sophomore season in which he racked up 12.5 sacks, 54 tackles and five forced fumbles.
Robinson spent the last nine weeks of the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad, signing on October 27. He first entered the NFL this past spring with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent out of Alcorn State. The 6-2, 256-pound linebacker was waived in the final roster cut-down but signed by the Arizona Cardinals to their practice squad, where he spent the first seven weeks of the season. A first-team all-Southwestern Athletic Conference selection as a senior, Robinson posted 111 tackles, 3.5 sacks and three interceptions for Alcorn State last fall. He finished his Braves career with 334 tackles, 18.5 sacks, three interceptions, 11 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
The most recent addition of the six to the Bucs' practice squad, Woodson joined the Bucs on December 9 after running back Kareem Huggins was promoted to the active roster. A seventh-round pick in the 2009 draft by the New York Giants, Woodson(5-10, 198) is a Tampa native who earned all-county honors at Middleton High School before heading off to South Carolina. He suffered an ankle injury during the preseason and was released by the Giants but later earned two separate stints on the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad before coming to Tampa. At South Carolina, Woodson played in 48 games with 23 starts and finished with 109 tackles and eight interceptions.