The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed exclusive rights free agent tackle Anthony Davis to a one-year contract, learned Tuesday.

The re-signing of the 6-foot-4, 322-pound Davis is a significant one seeing as the Bucs, who have been unable to upgrade their offensive line this offseason due to some serious salary cap challenges, expect him to challenge for a starting job in 2005.

“That’s definitely the plan — we expect Anthony to compete and enter the starting lineup this season,” said Davis’ agent, Jeff Chilcoat. “Anything less would be a big disappointment for Anthony and the team.”

Davis originally joined the Bucs in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech. He spent most of his rookie campaign on the practice squad but was activated for the team’s regular season finale that season.

In 2004, Davis started three of Tampa Bay’s four preseason games at left tackle in place of Derrick Deese, who was nursing an ankle injury. While the team believed Davis played admirably in Deese’s spot, he didn’t see action in a regular season game until Week 17 against the Arizona Cardinals.

However, Chilcoat believes Davis became a better player while spending another year watching games from the sideline.

“There were a lot of positive things that came out of Anthony’s experience last year,” said Chilcoat. “Only good things come from watching veterans like Derrick Deese — guys that are proven in this league — play. I think Anthony has benefited tremendously from that experience and is ready to crack the starting lineup this season.”

The versatile Davis has the ability to play left and right tackle, and even had some pro teams looking at him as a guard when he was coming out of college. The fact that the Bucs attempted to ink Davis to a long-term, but to no avail, suggests the team is fairly high on him.

With Davis under contract, the Bucs have two exclusive rights free agents — tight end Will Heller and wide receiver Edell Shepherd — without deals. However, both players are expected to re-sign with the Bucs.

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