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Carlton Davis Signs New Deal to Stay with Bucs

Cornerback Carlton Davis passed on free agency to sign a new three-year contract with the Buccaneers, who are working aggressively to maintain a championship-caliber roster


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are, as General Manager Jason Licht put it on Sunday, continuing "to move forward with our offseason plans to reload this roster for another championship run."

Wednesday brought more evidence that those were not just empty words, in the form of a new three-year contract for number-one cornerback Carlton Davis III. Davis signed his contract early Wednesday afternoon, just hours before he was due to become an unrestricted free agent.

Davis likely would have had multiple suitors on the free agent market as a 25-year-old, six-foot-one corner who has shown the ability to shadow an opponent's top receiver and excel in both man and zone coverage. Instead, he and the Buccaneers struck a deal to keep him on a roster that is prepared to make another deep postseason run after winning the Super Bowl in 2020 and the NFC South in 2021.

"Carlton is a fantastic player. I've said for a few years that I thought he was one of the top cornerbacks in this league and he has continued to grow," said Head Coach Bruce Arians. "He's a great tackler, excellent in man-to-man defense, a very physical corner, and has the length you want. He has everything you are looking for to be a shut-down corner. He's also developed off the field so much leading our social justice program and all the things he's doing for our organization. He's a huge, huge asset to our football team."

Licht's comments on Sunday came in response to quarterback Tom Brady, the 2021 NFL MVP runner-up, announcing that he would be returning to the Buccaneers in 2022. Since then, Tampa Bay has locked up two of its most important pending free agents, Davis and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen. Jensen signed his new three-year deal on Monday.

"Since we drafted Carlton in 2018, he has developed into one of the premier cover corners in the NFL," said Licht. "As an organization, it is always a point of emphasis to keep and reward our core, homegrown players. Carlton is the most experienced player in our secondary and we believe he is entering the prime of his career so we are very happy to be able to agree on this extension."

Davis has led the NFL in passes defensed over the past three seasons, with 45, and he had a team-high 11 in just 10 games played last year. Though he missed time due to a quad injury, Davis compiled 38 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery to go with those 11 pass break-ups. He added seven tackles and a pass defensed in the playoffs.

The Buccaneers originally drafted Davis in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, with the 63rd pick overall. The former Auburn standout jumped immediately into a starting role for Tampa Bay and has since played in 57 games, postseason included with 56 starts. After a season of transition to the NFL as a rookie, Davis flourished with the arrival of Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles and has since developed into one of the NFL's top young cornerbacks.

Overall, Davis has broken up 56 passes in 57 NFL games, including the playoffs. His regular-season totals also include 207 tackles, nine tackles for loss, six interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

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