Former South Carolina DE Moe Thompson performed well enough in the Bucs' rookie camp to earn a contract
One more player and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in triple digits.
On Friday, the Buccaneers announced the signing of undrafted free agent defensive end Moe Thompson. A former standout at South Carolina, Thompson was one of 30 players who participated in last weekend's rookie camp on a tryout contract. His signing pushes Tampa Bay's bulging offseason roster to 99 players.
An All-Freshman SEC pick in 2002 after starting 11 games, Thompson was one of the nation's top defensive ends over his three seasons as a Gamecock. After combining 54 tackles with two sacks, one interception, three passes defensed and two fumble recoveries as a freshman, he racked up 12 sacks over the next two campaigns, including a team-leading seven in 2004.
Thompson started all 23 of USC's games in 2003-04 and even played some tight end in his final season, a position he excelled at in high school. As a prep at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina, he earned the state's Mr. Football honors after standing out on both offense (45 receptions for 800 yards and three touchdowns) and defense (85 tackles and five sacks).
The Bucs have now signed two of the weekend's tryout players. On Monday, they inked Georgia Tech cornerback Reuben Houston.
That's not surprising; last year, the Bucs eventually signed seven of the 20 players who tried out at their post-draft mini-camp, including four who are still with the team: quarterback Jared Allen, running back Jacque Lewis, cornerback James Patrick and running back Derek Watson.
What is eye-opening is the depth of the Bucs' current roster, given that the official offseason roster limit is 80 players. However, drafted players do not count against the limit until they have signed their first contracts, and the team also earns roster exemptions by sending players to the NFL Europe League.
The Bucs will be allowed to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 players to training camp, depending upon the number of exemptions earned in the NFLEL. Tampa Bay allocated nine men to the spring league, but the exact number of exemptions allotted will depend on the positions played and the amount of playing time earned overseas.