CB Anthony Midget was impressive enough in Buccaneer practice sessions to earn another crack at the team roster in 2001
On Friday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they have retained the services of Bayes, Brown and Midget.
No, it's not a law firm. It's the team's newest on-field employees.
While most of One Buccaneer Place sleeps, one corner of the team's headquarters remains a beehive of activity. The coaches staff, players and much of the football staff may be enjoying a few much-needed days off, but the Bucs' player personnel department is in full swing, beginning the reshaping of the team's roster for 2001.
On Friday, the team announced the signings of three more players to 'futures' contracts: punter Andrew Bayes, guard Wilbert Brown and cornerback Anthony Midget. Bayes and Brown are (technically) first-year players who have spent time with other teams while Midget spent his rookie campaign on the Bucs' practice squad. The term 'futures' indicates that the contracts take effect when the 2001 NFL year officially begins, on March 2.
Bayes (6-2, 200) is a strong-legged punter who joined the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina last spring. Bayes, who also can handle kickoff duties in the manner of a Mitch Berger, left ECU as the school's all-time leader in virtually every punting category. His excellent career punting average of 43.5 yards was aided by a spectacular 1999 senior season in which he averaged 48.1 yards per kick and booted 19 tries for 50 yards or more.
Brown (6-2, 310) is the only one of the trio to have seen regular-season action, having played five games with the San Diego Chargers in 1999. Brown originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent from Houston with the Chargers in '99 and was signed to the team's practice squad after training camp.
After impressing his coaches during the fall with a strong work ethic, Brown was signed to the San Diego active roster on December 4 and wound up playing in the last five games, mostly on special teams. He went back to camp with the Chargers this past summer and this time spent almost the entire season on the practice squad. Like all NFL practice squad players, his contract expired after the season ended and, after seven days in which he could negotiate only with the Chargers, was free to sign with any team.
Midget (5-11, 193), a fifth-round pick of the Falcons in the 2000 draft, picked off two passes in the preseason for Atlanta, including one he returned 43 yards for a touchdown. He was waived in the Falcons' final cutdown and signed the next day to Tampa Bay's practice squad, where he spent the entire season. Midget earned third-team All-America honors and first-team All-Big East accolades as a senior at Virginia Tech. A four-year letterman, he finished his career with 121 tackles and five interceptions.
The Bucs have signed eight players to futures contracts since the season ended in Philadelphia on Sunday. On Wednesday, the team announced one-year deals for WR Eddie Hardaway, G Kendell Mack, TE Randy Palmer, DB Terrance Parrish and DT Matt Sweeney. The Bucs are also in the midst of a seven-day period in which they are the only team that can negotiate with the five players that finished the season on Tampa Bay's practice squad. With Midget signed, the remaining potential returners are DT Chartric Darby, WR Yo Murphy, DE Mawuko Tugbenyoh and QB Ted White. The exclusive signing period ends on Monday at 4:00 p.m.