A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and fourth-year tackle Demar Dotson, who was a restricted free agent and could have played the 2012 season on his one-year tender offer, agreed to a new two-year contract. This spring, after a season in which Dotson took over as the team's starting right tackle, he got an even longer deal.
On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Dotson to a new four-year contract.
Dotson played in all 16 games in 2012, starting the final 15 on the right end of an offensive line that had a strong season despite dealing with several major injuries. Although Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks combined to play in just seven games, the Buccaneers' offensive line tied for the third-fewest sacks allowed in the NFL. That protection gave quarterback Josh Freeman the opportunity to set new franchise records for passing yards (4,065) and touchdown passes (27). Dotson and his fellow blockers also paved the way for rookie RB Doug Martin to rush for 1,454 yards 11 touchdowns en route to the Pro Bowl.
Dotson stepped into the starting lineup in the second week of the season, replacing an injured Jeremy Trueblood at right tackle against the New York Giants. Though Dotson had opened two games as a third tight end during the 2011 season, the Giants' game marked his first career start at tackle. He held onto the right tackle job even after Trueblood returned from his injury.
Dotson's ascension to starter status in 2012 came in his fourth NFL season but still represented an impressively quick development. The former Southern Mississippi basketball player had seen only one season of college action on the gridiron, and that was on the defensive line. In all, Dotson played in six college football games.
Still, the Buccaneers signed the athletic, six-foot-nine prospect as an undrafted free agent in 2009, immediately converting him to the offensive side of the ball. Dotson made the regular-season roster as a rookie and appeared in nine games in a reserve capacity. Though his momentum was slowed somewhat in 2010 when he suffered a knee injury in the preseason and was placed on injured reserve, he returned in 2011 to once again win a prominent job on the team's offensive line. Dotson spent most of that season as the one reserve offensive tackle who was active on game days, appearing in 13 contests. Dotson also proved valuable in an additional role, serving as a third tight end in certain formations and even starting two games at that position.