TAMPA — The Bucs have given safety Tanard Jackson a big vote of confidence — and a huge incentive a stay clean.
The team put the finishing touches on an extension that takes Jackson's contract through the end of the 2012 season while also more than doubling his base salary for the current season.
Thursday's move comes two weeks after Jackson returned to the team from a yearlong suspension for a third violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy. He immediately was placed in the starting lineup and recorded an interception in his first game back, a win over the Saints. He followed that performance with an interception against the Bears on Sunday in London.
The Bucs saw fit to ensure they kept Jackson around, approaching him with the contract extension last week. After a suspension for substance-abuse issues in 2009 and then another suspension in 2010, which carried over into this season, that the Bucs did the deal speaks volumes about their faith in Jackson's ability to stay clean.
"The Bucs have been tremendously supportive of him all along," agent Peter Schaffer said by phone. "Tampa Bay believes he's made a positive change in his life and that he's taken every possible step to go in a positive direction. No one's ever out of the woods, but they really believe in him, and I believe in him."
The new deal calls for Jackson to make base salaries of $1.454 million this season (prorated over 10 weeks) and $2 million in 2012, according to figures obtained from the NFL Players Association.
Before this move, Jackson's contract was scheduled to expire at the end of this season and he was set to make $600,000 in base salary for 2011 (minus a prorated amount for the five games he missed).
It's not clear what, if any, portions of the contract are guaranteed.
Jackson, 26, spent time at an inpatient rehab facility during his absence from the NFL and has vowed not to repeat his mistakes. Likewise, the team has stressed that it doesn't expect a relapse.
Jackson had hoped for a chance to remain with the Bucs beyond this season, keeping him with the team that drafted him in the fourth round out of Syracuse in 2007.
"The intent was to keep him in a place where he's comfortable," Schaffer said.
Assuming Jackson stays clear of trouble, locking him up gives the Bucs some needed stability at safety. Second-year free safety Cody Grimm will be coming off a season-ending knee injury when next season begins, having been placed on injured reserve last month. And the Bucs could lose starting strong safety Sean Jones, in the midst of a solid season, because he is scheduled to hit free agency in the offseason.
Stephen F. Holder can be reached at email@example.com.