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Buccaneers can’t re-sign Jacquizz Rodgers until March 9

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers more or less need to re-sign running back Jacquizz Rodgers, who did a good job replacing Doug Martin through injury and suspension last year. They can’t until the start of free agency, though, because of an obscure CBA rule Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report unearthed.

Rodgers can’t be re-signed until he hits free agency because he signed a Minimum Salary Benefit deal, which is a one-year contract, with the Buccaneers in 2016. That’s a technical rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Tampa Bay isn’t allowed to negotiate with Rodgers until March 7. Both sides want to get a deal done, so look for a cheap, multi-year contract to be signed within the first 72 hours of free agency.

I was not aware of that rule, which is so obscure it almost never comes up. I guess their cheapness in signing Rodgers has now come back to bite the Bucs, just a little. While the Bucs can start negotiations with Rodgers on March 7, they can’t re-sign him until the actual start of free agency on March 9 — the same goes for every external free agent the Bucs may want to sign.

NFL teams can negotiate with their own impending free agents at any point in the year, but are only allowed to negotiate with external free agents starting three days before the start of the league year, and contracts aren’t official until signed on the first day of the league year.

Hopefully Reynolds is correct in his analysis and the Buccaneers and Rodgers both want to get a contract done, and will get one set up early in free agency. Otherwise the Bucs may have to scramble to find a serviceable back, which Reynolds suggested earlier would come in the draft — perhaps in addition to Rodgers.