The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already putting the $25 million they have in available cap room next year to use.

The Bucs recently extended the contracts of punter Josh Bidwell and running back Earnest Graham, PewterReport.com is reporting.

Terms of those deals weren’t immediately available, but both Bidwell and Graham signed multi-year contracts.

Bidwell, 30, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2007. He is averaging 43 yards per punt with a net of 36.4.

Earlier in the season, the Bucs were preparing a contingency plan in case Bidwell did not re-sign before free agency started in March of ‘07. The team auditioned several punters, including former Carolina Panthers P Todd Sauerbrun.

Last season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Bidwell made the Pro Bowl by averaging a career-high 45.6 yards per punt with a net of 37.5. In addition to his punting duties, Bidwell also serves as the holder for Matt Bryant’s field goal attempts.

Bidwell, who is a cancer survivor, originally entered the NFL in 1999 with the Green Bay Packers. He spent five seasons (1999-03) with Green Bay before signing with Tampa Bay as an unrestricted free agent during the ’04 offseason.

Graham (5-9, 225) was scheduled to become a restricted free agent during the ’07 offseason. He said he was pleased to sign the extension as opposed to being offered a one-year tender next offseason.

“I’m just happy to get that done,” Graham said of his contract extension. “I want to be here. I know the system and I’ve gotten better as a player. I plan on continuing to get better this season and having a monster offseason. It’s definitely nice to have some security and know where I’ll be playing for a while. I’m proud to be playing for the Bucs.”

Graham originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. He has spent the past three seasons with the Buccaneers.

While he has the ability to play both running back and fullback, Graham’s most significant contributions have come on special teams, where he currently ranks second on the team in tackles.

The Bucs are also interested in re-signing more of their free agents-to-be, including quarterback Chris Simms and defensive end Dewayne White. 

 


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