DT Dre Moore was the Buccaneers' fourth-round draft pick last April
Three defensive backs, a couple defensive tackles, some offensive line depth...the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already begun reloading their roster for the 2009 season.
The Buccaneers announced the signings of 10 free agents on Thursday, among them defensive tackle Dre Moore, a 2008 fourth-round draft pick, and tackle Anthony Alibi, who played three seasons for the Miami Dolphins from 2005-07. As is team policy, terms of the contracts were not announced.
Technically, the new league year doesn't begin until February 27, but the Buccaneers and the rest of the NFL's 32 teams are already hard at work fashioning their 80-man offseason rosters for 2009.
That is done through the "reserve/future" mechanism, which allows teams to sign players who were not with any team at the end of the 2008 season to contracts that will take effect once the 2009 league year begins. The system keeps the playing field even for teams that are still in the playoffs, since any signings would not affect their 2008 rosters.
As of Thursday, the Buccaneers had signed 10 players in this manner, including five who finished the '08 season as members of the team's practice squad. All practice squad players immediately become free agents when their team's season ends.
The 10 signings announced by the Buccaneers on Thursday were:
- T Anthony Alabi
- K Shane Andrus
- CB Kyle Arrington
- DT Chris Bradwell
- CB Greg Fassitt
- DE Louis Holmes
- LB Jamall Johnson
- DT Dre Moore
- TE Jason Pociask
- T Julius Wilson
Arrington, Fassitt, Moore, Pociask and Wilson are the five who were on the Bucs' practice squad when the season ended, though Bradwell also spent time with that crew during the 2008 season.
Most of the players on the above list originally entered the NFL as undrafted free agents; Moore, Alibi and Pociask are the exceptions. Tampa Bay used the 115th overall pick in last year's draft on Moore, the sizeable tackle out of Maryland. Moore was waived on the final roster cut-down after the preseason but immediately signed to the practice squad, where he spent the entire season.
Alabi was picked in the fifth round by the Miami Dolphins in 2005. He spent three seasons on the Dolphins' active roster (2005-07), appearing in a total of 15 games during that span and filling in at both tackle and guard. The 6-5, 315-pound Alabi was claimed off waivers by Kansas City last February, though he was eventually released just before the regular season. Coincidentally, the pick Miami used to draft Alabi in '05 had come from the Chiefs as part of a trade for cornerback Patrick Surtain. At TCU, Alabi was a three-year starter at left tackle and a first-team all-conference selection in his last two seasons.
Andrus has spent most of the past three years trying to crack the roster at Indianapolis, where the Colts have enjoyed the services of Pro Bowl kicker Adam Vinatieri during the regular season. Andrus was originally signed as a free agent in 2006 and went to camp with the Colts in each of the next three summers. He also kicked for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europa in spring of 2007, helping Hamburg to the World Bowl championship in the league's final year of existence. He played his college ball at Murray State.
The 5-10, 196-pound Arrington spent most of his rookie season in Tampa after originally entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Philadelphia last spring. He started the season on the Eagles' practice squad but joined the Buccaneers on September 17 and was with the team the rest of the way. At Hofstra, Arrington recorded 53 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery as a senior in 2007.
The Buccaneers brought Bradwell into the league last May, signing him as a college free agent after the draft. He was one of two players Tampa Bay plucked from the roster at Troy; Bradwell's former Trojan teammate, Elbert Mack, made the regular-season roster as another undrafted free agent. Bradwell (6-5, 280) spent just one season at Troy after starting his collegiate career at Northeast Mississippi Community College. After appearing in 12 games with nine starts and notching four sacks last fall, Bradwell was named the Sun Belt Conference Newcomer of the Year. After signing with the Bucs, he was released just before the regular season but returned in early December to the practice squad.
Fassitt was on the Bucs' practice squad almost as long as Arrington, signing one week later in September and then remaining with the team to the end. A former Grambling State standout (110 tackles and seven interception in 32 games), Fassitt started his NFL career in Chicago as an undrafted free agent in 2007. One year on Chicago's practice squad led to a training camp invite in New Orleans this past summer, though he was released before the regular season.
Holmes comes across the country from San Francisco, where he spent time on the 49ers' practice squad. The Niners signed Holmes as an undrafted free agent out of Arizona last May. The 6-4, 275-pound pass-rusher split his collegiate career between the Wildcats and Scottsdale Community College, playing his last two seasons in Tucson. After a four-sack junior season in which he earned second-team All-PAC 10 honors, Holmes added two more sacks in 12 games and 10 starts in 2007.
The path to the Buccaneers was a bit more interesting for Johnson, who has spent the past four years playing in the Canadian Football League with the British Columbia Lions. The 6-1, 222-pound linebacker actually began his professional career with the Cleveland Browns in 2005 but moved on to Canada after being waived prior to training camp. In four seasons with the Lions, Johnson recorded 66 tackles, one interception (which he returned 59 yards for a touchdown), two fumble recoveries and 56 stops on special teams. Primarily a special-teams standout during his first two seasons, Johnson moved into a starting spot as an outside linebacker in 2007.
At Maryland, the 6-4, 305-pound Moore played in 44 games, starting 26 of his last 29 outings, and recorded 17.5 tackles for loss, including 10.5 sacks. He was a first-team All-ACC choice by ESPN.com after a 2007 senior season in which he led the Terrapins with six sacks and added 63 tackles to lead all defensive linemen.
Like Alabi, Pociask came into the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick, as he was chosen 150th overall by the New York Jets in 2006. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, Pociask earned a spot on the 53-man roster heading into 2007. Though he was inactive for the first nine games of the season, he eventually saw action in four contests and finished with one reception for seven yards. Pociask was waived at the end of the 2008 preseason and briefly signed by the New England Patriots, who also waived him just before the start of the regular season. He joined the Buccaneers on October 29 and spent the rest of the season in Tampa. At Wisconsin, Pociask played in 41 games and had 12 catches for 144 yards.
One of four players to spend the entire 2008 season on Tampa Bay's practice squad - along with Moore, wide receiver Micheal Spurlock and Russian safety Sergey Ivanov - Wilson went to training camp with the St. Louis Rams last summer but joined the Buccaneers on September 1. He originally entered the NFL in 2007 as an undrafted free agent with the Miami Dolphins, and he opened his rookie campaign on Miami's practice squad before getting a call-up to the active roster for the last four games. This past summer, he was waived by Miami just before training camp and claimed by the Rams. At Alabama-Birmingham, Wilson was a starter for most of his three years with the team, playing the last two seasons at right tackle.