TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As the Buccaneers work to fill-out their 2023 roster, a priority was securing some of their own free agents. On that list were a few players they actually drafted, including outside linebacker Anthony Nelson and cornerback Jamel Dean, both selected by the Bucs in 2019 and both getting that second contract with Tampa Bay this week.

“It’s a very underrated moment when an organization signs an extension to a player that they drafted, brought up, developed,” Bucs’ General Manager Jason Licht said. “You tend to celebrate the guy that you sign in free agency from another—lure from another team—a little bit more. But in this case I think we’re more excited because it shows that not only do we want them back, because we feel like they’re great players that are going to help us win another championship, but they also wanted to be here.” 

Licht said these two epitomize what they look for in players on and off the field, and for Dean and Nelson, it was a pretty easy choice to return.

“I honestly didn’t want to leave man,” Dean said. “I’m born and raised in Florida. I’m close to home. I’m comfortable. So I was like ‘why would I leave?’” 

“Tampa’s been great, great to my family,” Nelson said. “Got a lot of opportunities here and excited for another one. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got a lot more to prove—me personally and as an organization, so I felt like it was a good fit for me.” 

Nelson’s contract is two years, valued at $11 million, and Dean’s is four years, valued at $52 million. The Bucs worked their salary cap magic and somehow made these deals feasible.

“Yeah, I was a little worried,” Dean admitted, knowing the Bucs salary cap situation. “I was like, ‘I would hate to have to go up north because, man, I don’t like the cold really. But they started to make some adjustments and I was like ‘OK, there’s a chance.’ Then Carlton [Davis III] called me and was like ‘Yo, they really want you.’ And I was like, ‘OK, this is starting to lean towards my favor now.’ Then you know, things worked out and I’m happy to be here.” 

“If I go back in time I would do it all again,” Licht said. “We pushed, we borrowed about a hundred million dollars against this year’s cap and future cap to do what we did. We came close the second time but if anybody wants to criticize what they did, they can come to any of our three homes and look at our rings so we’re happy about that.” 

Licht said this is a great day and a great feeling to bring these players back, but he also said they’re not done yet. They still have more roster moves to make in the coming days, weeks and months.