DB Ryan Smith signs his contract with the Buccaneers.
Ryan Smith and Caleb Benenoch were the fourth and fifth players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected in last weekend's NFL draft, but they are the first two members of their class to get their first contracts in place.
On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that they had signed Smith, a defensive back out of North Carolina Central and Tampa Bay's fourth-round selection last Saturday. Benenoch, an offensive linemen from UCLA selected in the fifth round, followed suit not long after by agreeing to terms on his initial NFL deal, and the run of quick signings for the Bucs' 2016 draftees is likely to continue.
Since the new CBA took effect in 2011, creating rookie salary guidelines, there have been very few protracted negotiations with incoming players around the NFL. In addition, unsigned draft picks now count against the 90-man offseason roster limit; previously, teams had 80-man offseason rosters and draft picks didn't count against that limit until they signed. That gave teams an incentive to delay those signings until after the final practices of the offseason. Smith and Benenoch came to town on Thursday in advance of this weekend's rookie mini-camp and almost immediately got their contracts done.
A look at the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Smith (6-0, 190) played four seasons at UNCC and finished as the school's all-time leader in solo tackles (168) and kickoff return average (28.1). Though he finished his collegiate days as a cornerback, the Buccaneers plan to try him first at safety. He could also make an early impact on special teams, including as a candidate for the kick return jobs.
The 6-5, 305-pound Benenoch started 35 games over three years at UCLA and has the versatility to potentially help the Buccaneers at both tackle and on the interior line. He won second-team all-freshman honors in 2013, and honorable mention all-conference honors in 2014, starting 31 games at right tackle and four at guard from 2013-15.
Still needing deals are first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, second-round defensive end Noah Spence, second-round kicker Roberto Aguayo and the Bucs' two sixth-round picks, linebacker Devante Bond and fullback Danny Vitale.