The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began the process of getting their 2013 draft class under contract on Monday. At this rate, they may be done soon.
Two of the team's six draftees already have deals, as announced on Monday. Agreeing on four-year deals (the required length of all rookie contracts under the new collective bargaining agreement) were fifth-round defensive end Steven Means and sixth-round running back Mike James.
That leaves only four players unsigned on the Bucs' roster: second-round cornerback Johnthan Banks, third-round quarterback Mike Glennon and the fourth-round duo of defensive tackle Akeem Spence and defensive end William Gholston. Because the rookie salary structure under the current CBA includes specific monetary allotments to draft slots, as well as floors and ceilings for individual contracts, the matter of getting a rookie class under contract has become simpler since 2011. The fact that the Buccaneers also do not have a first-round draft pick to negotiate with, having traded that selection to acquire cornerback Darrelle Revis, should also help in completing the task.
A simpler task or not, the Bucs are well on their way to continuing a very satisfying trend, having avoided an extended holdout by a rookie for nearly two decades. The last Buccaneer rookie to miss a significant amount of training camp time due to a contract impasse was Trent Dilfer in 1994.
The quick deals mean the Bucs' rookies can focus on the practice field and competing for spots on the depth chart. Means, for instance, will have an opportunity to help the team add life to its pass rush. James is a versatile and willing performer who could carve out a number of roles on offense and special teams.
Means (6-3, 260) played four seasons for the University at Buffalo and contributed 185 tackles, 18.5 sacks, 29.5 tackles for loss, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He hails from Buffalo, New York.
In four seasons at the University of Miami, the 5-11, 222-pound James played in 50 games with 17 starts and recorded 1,386 yards and 17 touchdowns on 312 carries. He also racked up 585 yards through the air, including a 72-yard reception against Duke last year.