With training camp only days away, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have four rookie draft picks unsigned. After speaking with members of the Bucs front office and with the players' agents, Pewter Report has learned that all parties involved believe that the players' contracts will be done before the team reports to Celebration Hotel for training camp on July 25.
Bucs general manager Bruce Allen has not had a rookie holdout since he came to the Buccaneers in 2004 nor did he ever have one during his tenure with the Oakland Raiders. This week, there were rumors of Allen meeting with retired quarterback Brett Favre at Fleming's, a Tampa restaurant, when in fact Allen was meeting with Todd France, the agent for first-round pick, cornerback Aqib Talib.
The team has been attempting to get Talib under contract and does not anticipate having a rookie holdout. There are four first-round picks already under contract, including the 17th overall pick, Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens. Having a pick close to Talib under contract could be helpful in terms of coming to an agreement.
Wide receiver Dexter Jackson, the Bucs second-round pick, could be the last rookie to sign his contract. That is because the team is attempting to get Talib done sooner rather than the last minute, and the Buccaneers are close to deals with their third- and fifth-round picks.
Due to complications in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the upcoming expiration of the CBA, there has been some confusion in how to structure the contracts for first-round and second-round picks. The issues include the length of the contracts and guaranteed money at the end of the contract when the salary cap has expired. According to members of Tampa Bay's front office, the complications do not pertain to the Bucs' negotiations with Talib and Jackson due to the fact that Tampa Bay has plenty of salary cap room now and for future years.
Allen has been able to get all of his first-round picks in on time. That included two top five picks (running back Cadillac Williams and defensive end Gaines Adams) that signed with the Bucs before many players that were selected around them.
Offensive lineman Jeremy Zuttah will probably sign his contract with the Buccaneers early in the week. Fifth-round pick Josh Johnson is likely to be signed in the same period of days as Zuttah.
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