Vita Vea still has a lot of work to do in his first NFL offseason, but he no longer has to worry about getting his first NFL contract done. On Thursday, Vea and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted the University of Washington defensive tackle 12th overall, agreed on that deal and Vea put ink to paper.
As is the case with all first-round picks, as mandated by the collective bargaining agreement, Vea got a four-year deal that also includes a team option for a fifth season. The team will have to elect between Vea's third and fourth season if they want to pick up that fifth-year option.
The Buccaneers now have three-quarters of their 2018 draft class under contract, having previously signed second-round cornerback M.J. Stewart, third-round guard Alex Cappa, fourth-round safety Jordan Whitehead, fifth-round wide receiver Justin Watson and sixth-round linebacker Jack Cichy. That leaves just two rookies left unsigned, the second-round duo of running back Ronald Jones and cornerback Carlton Davis. Unsigned draft picks may participate in offseason workouts by signing injury waivers; however, no player can report to training camp without a deal in place. The Buccaneers haven't had a rookie holdout of any substance in more than two decades.
The Buccaneers anticipate Vea having a big impact as a rookie. The 6-4, 347-pound defender has surprisingly nimble feet and pass-rush potential to go with his excellent work against the run. His selection in the draft was part of a major defensive line overhaul that also included a trade for former New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and the free agency additions of Beau Allen, Vinny Curry and Mitch Unrein. Improving upon a pass-rush that finished last in the NFL with 22 sacks in 2017 was the team's top offseason priority.
A high school running back who occasionally covered kickoffs at Washington and even blocked a punt, Vea brings power, speed and agility to the Bucs' reworked defensive front. In 27 games over the past two seasons at Washington, he had 83 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, six passes defensed and a forced fumble.