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Bucs sign pick, close with rest

If the plan is to have all eight draft picks under contract by Sunday afternoon, when players report for training camp in Orlando, the Bucs are off to a solid start.

Tampa Bay signed rookie safety Jermaine Phillips to a three-year contract Monday and could announce two or three signings today.

Terms of Phillips' contract were not disclosed.

Phillips, a fifth-round pick out of Georgia, can play free and strong safety and gives the Bucs depth at a position that features starters John Lynch and Dexter Jackson and backups David Gibson and John Howell.

The 6-foot-1, 214-pounder, a receiver his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, recorded 165 tackles in two seasons on defense.

Phillips' teammate at Georgia, cornerback Tim Wansley, also is close to signing. Wansley was Tampa Bay's first selection in the seventh round, 233rd overall.

With the base salary and signing bonus virtually slotted for most picks after the second round, the Bucs don't anticipate prolonged negotiations. In the coming days, Tampa Bay should agree to terms with Michigan receiver Marquise Walker, the third-round pick; Tennessee running back Travis Stephens, fourth round; sixth-round pick John Stamper, a South Carolina defensive end; and the other three seventh-rounders, Nebraska tight end Tracey Wistrom, Kansas State receiver Aaron Lockett and Stanford center Zack Quaccia.

"As always, it is our goal to get all of our draft choices into camp on time," general manager Rich McKay said in a release. "With the system the way it is, that should definitely occur this year."

According to NFL rules, all players who report to training camp must be under contract. Stamper's agent, Harold Lewis, said getting deals done in the final week is somewhat routine.

"I'm always confident about getting players signed when dealing with an organization like the Bucs (and McKay)," Lewis said. "They have always been fair.

"I don't anticipate any problems. We are close."

_ Staff writer Rick Stroud contributed to this report.

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