Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs sign top picks Clayborn, Bowers; LB Black returning
TAMPA - He has just three days to do a job that he usually has three months to do, but Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik isn't about to let that alter his ultimate goal. Dominik wants all eight of the Bucs' drafted players to be signed and in camp when workouts begin on Friday. From the looks of things, he won't have much trouble completing that task, as well as a few others. Not long after Tampa Bay became the first team to sign a drafted player of any kind on Tuesday – third-round pick Mason Foster – the Bucs on Wednesday became the first to sign a first-round pick. Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, the 20th player selected, announced his contract on his Twitter account:"Just signed on the dotted line! Consider me a Tampa Bay Buccaneer! Even tho it was more than one line and it wasn't actually dotted!!" A few hours later, Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, the Bucs' second-round pick, did the same, writing on his Twitter account: "Feels good to finally be a buc officially.... Dotted line signed ....'' The deals for Clayborn and Bowers, who are expected to take over as the starting right and left ends, brought to four the number of Tampa Bay's eight 2011 draft picks to sign, joining Foster and seventh-round pick Daniel Hardy, a tight end out of Idaho. The team announced all four signings on Wednesday. But those rookies and the 14 undrafted free agents the Bucs signed Wednesday weren't the only Buccaneers who agreed to terms on new contracts. Quincy Black, a four-year veteran who started 23 games at outside linebacker the past two season, agreed to terms on a five-year, $29 million deal that includes $11.5 million in guaranteed payouts, according to his agent, Kevin Omell. An unrestricted free agent, Black cannot sign his new contract until Friday. When the time comes, he likely will not be the only free agent to do so. Receiver Micheal Spurlock, a restricted free agent, said he plans to sign on Friday the tender he received from the Bucs. Spurlock, 28, has been Tampa Bay's return man since 2007 and had 17 receptions for 250 yards and two touchdowns last season. Not all the Bucs free agents are ready to re-sign, however. Restricted free agent right tackle James Lee said he has not signed the second-round tender the Bucs placed on him and is continuing to examine his options. The same goes for right tackle Jeremy Trueblood, an unrestricted free agent who said Wednesday several teams have expressed interest in him and he, too, is exploring his options. Bucs free agent defensive end Stylez G. White is finding his options to be limited. White's agent, Jack Bechta, said late Wednesday he has not received any inquiries from the Bucs or another team about White. With Clayborn and Bowers signing on the dotted line, White becomes expendable. As dictated by the new collective bargaining agreement, Clayborn's contract is for four years with a team option for a fifth. The contracts for Bowers, Foster and Hardy are all four-year deals with no options for additional years. "We'll continue to push to get these draft picks (signed) quickly because I'd like to have every one of them out there the first day of training camp,'' Dominik said on Tuesday, the first day teams could negotiate with players. "Every day I can (have) them here with our coaches and get them caught up is really important to me.'' Clayborn and Bowers are important additions for a Bucs defense that finished next to last in the 32-team league in sacks (26) and 28th against the run (131.7 yards per game) in 2010. A natural right end who explodes off the edge, Clayborn recorded 19 sacks at Iowa, while Bowers, a unanimous first-team All American, recorded 19.5 sacks in 38 games at Clemson. Once considered the top player in the 2011 draft, Bowers slipped to the second round because of a right knee injury and subsequent offseason surgery. Dominik, however, is confident Bowers is ready to play. "I see Da'Quan being ready to go Day 1,'' Dominik said on Tuesday. Foster, meanwhile, may be ticketed for a starting role at middle linebacker, where the Bucs have seemingly said goodbye to four-year starter Barrett Ruud, an unrestricted free agent. Hardy is expected to compete for playing time on special teams and at tight end behind starter Kellen Winslow and rookie Luke Stocker, a fourth-round draft selection this year out of Tennessee. Among the undrafted rookies who signed with Tampa Bay, two stand out on the stat sheet: receivers Raymond Webber from Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Deltron Lewis from Texas Tech. Webber led the nation with 101 receptions and 1,429 receiving yards last season, while Lewis finished 15th in the nation with 6.69 receptions per game. Also among the Bucs' undrafted rookies is former West Virginia and St. Petersburg Catholic wide receiver Jock Sanders.
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