The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive tackle Chris Hovan have agreed in principle to a five-year contract worth $17.5 million.

Hovan, who signed a one-year contract worth league minimum last season, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on the first day of the new league year, which has been pushed back several times and is currently scheduled begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday.

After originally entering the NFL in 2000 as a first-round draft pick out of Boston College, Hovan spent five seasons with the Minnesota Vikings before leaving in 2004 via free agency.

Hovan, 27, had an impressive debut as a Buc, leading the defensive linemen with 64 tackles while starting 17 games at nose tackle. He also played an integral role in helping Tampa Bay’s defense sure up its play against the run and finish the regular season ranked No. 1 overall.

Rules in the Collective Bargaining Agreement will likely prompt the Bucs to wait until the start of free agency to make Hovan’s deal official.

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