Rookie CB Justin Phinisee doesn't have to worry about his contract in the days leading up to training camp
A busy Friday at One Buccaneer Place should make next week just a bit easier for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' player personnel department.
With training camp set to begin next Thursday, July 27, General Manager Bruce Allen and his staff are working to get the team's 10-player draft class signed in time for the reporting deadline. As usual, much of that work will be completed in the last few days before camp; however, the list will be down to seven players when that hectic week begins.
On Friday, the Buccaneers announced the signings of two of those 10 draftees: fifth-round defensive end Julian Jenkins and seventh-round cornerback Justin Phinisee. Seventh-round tight end Tim Massaquoi got the ball rolling on Wednesday when he became the first of his draft class to ink a contract.
By signing their first NFL deals, the rookies officially began to count against the training camp limit of 80 players, plus exemptions. Thus, the Bucs had to concurrently release two players on Friday. Leaving on the eve of training camp are University of South Florida running back Andre Hall and West Virginia Jahmile Addae, both rookies who were signed after free agents after going undrafted.
Friday's pair of deals leaves seven still to be struck: first-round guard Davin Joseph, second-round tackle Jeremy Trueblood, third-round wide receiver Maurice Stovall, fourth-round cornerback Alan Zemaitis, sixth-round quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, sixth-round tight end T.J. Williams and seventh-round defensive end Charles Bennett.
It wouldn't be surprising to see several more players from this list come to terms as early as Monday. Because the NFL creates a rookie salary pool based on specific allotted amounts for every slot in the draft, most players beyond the first round have a good idea of what sort of offer to expect.
Jenkins was selected with the 156th pick in April's draft after a productive career at Stanford. The 6-3, 277-pound lineman has the versatility to play either end or tackle, in the fashion of longtime Bucs swingman Ellis Wyms. He started 23 of the 42 games he played at Stanford and recorded 130 tackles, 16.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss. Born in Boston, Jenkins played his prep ball in Georgia and has NFL bloodlines. His father, Eddie Jenkins, played for the Miami Dolphins in 1972.
The Bucs selected Phinisee (5-11, 200) at number 235 overall, with the first of three seventh-round draft picks. At Oregon, he started 29 games and recorded 183 tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions and 19 passes defensed. He moved around the Ducks' secondary as needed and, as a cornerback in 2005, he earned First-Team All-Pac 10 honors. Phinisee could also help the Bucs immediately on special teams; he was Oregon's Gordon E. Wilson Award winner as the team's most outstanding special teams player.