Jeremiah George is staying close to home.
A third-year NFL linebacker who hails from nearby Clearwater, George joined his hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a waiver claim last September. The Buccaneers liked what they saw from the former Iowa State standout in 2015 and extended a qualifying offer to him in March, just before the start of free agency. That made George an exclusive rights free agent (ERFA), and on Wednesday he signed that one-year offer to turn it into his contract for 2016.
This bit of business was expected because, as an ERFA, George could only negotiate with the Buccaneers and was essentially re-signed when he received his tender offer. By taking care of that business on Wednesday, George got it out of the way before the start of the team's offseason training program on Monday.
The Buccaneers got signatures from safety Bradley McDougald and long-snapper Andrew DePaola on Tuesday, which means they're down to just two players with outstanding qualifying offers not yet signed: wide receiver Russell Shepard (restricted free agent) and defensive end Jacquies Smith (ERFA).
George was claimed off waivers from the Jacksonville Jaguars just before the start of the 2015 regular season. He made his biggest impact on special teams in 2015, contributing six kick-coverage stops. A fifth-round pick by the New York Jets in 2014, George has played in 21 regular-season games with the Jags and Bucs.