Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Stocking Up for 2008

The Bucs have already begun adding to their roster for the next league season, signing seven players to 2008 contracts, including five from their own practice squad and two from the free agent wire

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WR Cortez Hankton played four seasons for the Jacksonville Jaguars, appearing in 46 games with one start

Though the 2007 NFL season is still almost a month from its conclusion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have already begun re-stocking their roster for 2008.

Actually, that process is going on throughout the league, even with teams that are still in the Super Bowl hunt. Once the regular season comes to an end, clubs are allowed to sign players not already on an NFL roster to "reserve/future" contracts. Basically, the process allows players to sign up for the 2008 season even though it won't technically begin until March.

As such, the Buccaneers have added two new players to the '08 roster: tight end Daniel Fells and wide receiver Cortez Hankton.

In addition, the team has re-signed five other men who were on Tampa Bay's practice squad at or near the end of the season: defensive end Marquies Gunn, cornerback Marcus Hamilton, cornerback Darrell Hunter, guard Brian Johnson and tackle Dennis Roland. All practice squad contracts automatically expire when a team's season concludes, making the above players free agents whether or not they were on the roster at the end.

The team's extensive list of players on injured reserve – such as tackle Luke Petitgout and running back Cadillac Williams – also reverts to the active roster when the season ends. During the offseason, teams are allowed a maximum of 80 players on the roster.

The 6-4, 252-pound Fells spent all of the 2007 season on the Oakland Raiders' practice squad but originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta in 2006. The former Cal-Davis standout made the Falcons' roster as a rookie and remained there for the entire season, though he was a game-day deactivation for all 16 contests.

At Cal-Davis, Fells was a three-year starter who finished with 59 career receptions for 964 yards and four touchdowns. A broken ankle limited him to six games and 10 receptions as a senior, but he was an all-conference pick in his junior season after hauling in 35 passes for 520 yards and a score.

Hankton, a fifth-year wide receiver with 46 career NFL games under his belt, is the most experienced of the Bucs' signees. The 6-0, 200-pound wideout played four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2003-06) before signing with Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. In the end, Hankton did not make the Vikings' roster and was not with an NFL team during the 2007 regular season.

Hankton was originally an undrafted free agent, too, but he secured a spot with the Jaguars in his rookie season and held on to it through 2006. During that time, he caught 34 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns, with half of those receptions coming in his rookie season.

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