T Anthony Davis helped pave the way for RB Cadillac Williams' award-winning rookie season
It wasn't so much a matter of if Anthony Davis would re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but when. Either way, it's good news.
Davis, a third-year offensive tackle out of Virginia Tech, inked a new deal with the Buccaneers on Monday. As is team policy, details of the contract were not released.
Davis' contract expired with the beginning of the new league season on March 11, but with only two years of accrued free agency credit under his belt, he became an exclusive rights free agent. Players in this category may only negotiate with their existing ballclub, as long as the necessary tender offer was extended at the beginning of free agency. Given that, and the fact that Davis started all 16 games at left tackle for the 11-5 Buccaneers last season, it was fairly evident that he would be back in 2006.
The 6-4, 329-pound Davis was part of a five-man group that started every game together on the offensive line, marking the first time that had happened in 30 Buccaneer seasons. In his first year as a starter, Davis helped the team rush for 114.1 yards per game and improve its league ranking in that category from 29th in 2004 to 14th in 2005. Buccaneer runners averaged 4.0 yards per carry behind Davis and his linemates, and running back Cadillac Williams was named the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Davis joined the Bucs as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and he earned a spot on the team's practice squad with a strong rookie training camp. He was elevated to the active roster late in his first campaign but was inactive for the season finale at Tennessee.
The versatile lineman took the next step in 2004, performing well enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, though he was still a regular on the game-day inactive list. He eventually played in two games and saw his first extensive action on the offensive in the final game at Arizona.
Davis' real breakout, however, came during the summer of 2005, when he was one of the most improved players in the team's training camp. Pressed into the starting role at left tackle due to a number of injuries to other players, Davis took control of the spot with an outstanding camp and was eventually the opening-day starter. As mentioned, he went on to start every game at left tackle, quietly playing through an assortment of ailments, including a knee injury against Carolina on November 6 that initially looked severe.
Davis is considered versatile enough to play both tackle positions, is still young (26) and proved his toughness in 2005. His return, while not surprising, is another boost for an offensive line that has obviously been a focal point for the Buccaneers during the first month of free agency.
The Bucs have now re-signed both of their starting tackles from last season, including Kenyatta Walker, who was an unrestricted free agent and could have gone to any team. Two of the three players Tampa Bay has added from other rosters are also linemen: former Minnesota guard Toniu Fonoti and former Dallas tackle Torrin Tucker. With the addition of Tucker, a starter for most of the past two seasons in Dallas, and the development of second-year man Chris Colmer, a third-round pick last April, the Bucs should have quality competition at the tackle spot this summer.