Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cannida Frozen In

The Bucs lock up reserve defensive tackle James Cannida, a restricted free agent, with a one-year deal

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DT James Cannida played a much bigger role in the Bucs' defense last year after Anthony McFarland became a starter

And then there were two.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' list of unsigned restricted free agents dwindled to just a pair of players on Wednesday when the team re-signed DT James Cannida to a one-year deal.

Cannida is the second restricted free agent (RFA) to re-up with the team in the last week, joining center/guard Todd Washington. Only RB Rabih Abdullah and CB Brian Kelly remain from the original list of six players that were scheduled to become RFA's this spring. Cannida and Washington have re-signed, LB Jamie Duncan was given a contract extension before free agency began and TE Blake Spence was not extended a tender offer, making him an unrestricted free agent.

In parallel news on Wednesday, the list of last year's Bucs who had become unrestricted free agents (UFA) this March also contracted by one when S Damien Robinson signed on with the New York Jets.

The difference between the UFAs and RFAs, as they relate to the Bucs roster, is that the former are unbound to any team and free to sign anywhere at any time while the latter are almost sure to return and are already affecting the team's salary cap.

When players are about to enter restricted free agency, teams may extend one-year tender offers to them in order to lock up a right-of-first-refusal, and also to set up possible draft-pick compensation when that free agent signs elsewhere. The Bucs did this with all of their RFAs except Spence, and none of them actively sought offers elsewhere. Only a few RFAs change teams around the league each offseason.

Instead, they allowed the signing period to pass and entered into a period, beginning last Monday, in which they can only negotiate with the Buccaneers. At this point, the RFA options are to accept the one-year tender offer, thereby setting themselves up to become UFAs next spring, or work on a longer-term deal. Most RFAs choose the first option, as Washington and Cannida have.

Cannida originally joined the Buccaneers as a sixth-round draft choice out of Nevada-Reno in 1998. After two seasons of infrequent activity (12 games played, two tackles), he assumed a more prominent role in the defensive tackle rotation last year after Brad Culpepper was released and Anthony McFarland moved into the starting lineup.

Cannida responded to his new role well, pitching in with 13 tackles and two sacks. His top effort came in the Bucs' win at Atlanta on November 5, when he notched four tackles and his first career sack.

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Cannida will join the rest of the team on Friday morning at 7:45 a.m. for the start of the team's mandatory post-draft mini-camp, which will run through Sunday.

Tampa Bay annually holds this camp the weekend after the draft; that is, in fact, a very common practice around the NFL. Twenty of the league's 31 teams will hold a mandatory camp this weekend, though six of those are for rookies only.

Most teams in the league are permitted just one mandatory mini-camp before training camp begins, though clubs with new head coaches are given permission to hold an additional camp, and usually do so. Some teams, such as the New York Giants, hold one camp for rookies and another for veterans or, like the San Francisco 49ers, hold one camp for the whole team and an additional one for rookies.

Virtually every team that is not holding a mini-camp this weekend will do so on the following weekend. Two exceptions: Baltimore, which won't bring the team in for a camp until June 11-14, and Oakland, which will wait until June 14-16.

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