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Ronald Jones Signs, Draft Deals Done

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And then there were none.

USC running back Ronald Jones signed his rookie deal on Thursday, and that means the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have completed all of their draft-class contract work well before the real deadline. While that's no longer a surprising development, it's still nice that the Buccaneers have that piece of work completed months before they report to training camp.

Jones is the last of the Buccaneers' eight 2018 draft picks to put his signature on a contract, but he still did it long before it could become an issue. NFL draft picks may participate in offseason workouts by signing an injury waiver; it's only by the start of training camp in late July that players must have a signed deal in order to report.

The Buccaneers signed half of their current draft class on the first day the rookies were in town, inking second-round cornerback M.J. Stewart, fourth-round safety Jordan Whitehead, fifth-round receiver Justin Watson and sixth-round linebacker Jack Cichy on May 10. Two days later, third-round guard Alex Cappa signed his deal, and the Bucs officially got first-round defensive tackle Vita Vea and second-round cornerback Carlton Davis on May 24.

Jones got a four-year deal, as does every player drafted from the second round on. First-round picks get four-year contracts with a team option for a fifth season. The slotted contract numbers provided by the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 makes rookie holdouts fairly uncommon. The Buccaneers haven't had a significant rookie holdout since Trent Dilfer in 1994.

Tampa Bay selected Jones with the sixth pick of the second round of the most recent draft, number 38 overall. The former Trojan has a penchant for big plays, averaging 6.1 yards per carry and scoring 42 touchdowns. In 2017, Jones ran 261 times for 1,550 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Buccaneers are trying to revitalize a rushing attack that ranked 27th in the NFL in 2017. In addition to drafting Jones with a premium pick, the Buccaneers also used free agency to add starting center Ryan Jensen. Jones steps into a backfield that also includes bruising running back Peyton Barber, who ran for 335 yards over the last five games of 2017 and averaged 4.2 yards per carry in that span.

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