Taking Care of Business: Bucs Sign LT Walker

July 26 – The Buccaneers and GM Rich McKay signed their first round pick LT Kenyatta Walker to a five-year deal worth a reported $8 million. Tampa Bay has now signed all nine of their 2001 draft picks and will report to training camp on July 29.

Walker, who was the 14th overall selection in the NFL 2001 Draft last April, was feared to be a training camp holdout. But with the signings of several other first round draft picks around the league this week, Tampa Bay was able to hammer out a deal that will keep Walker in Tampa for at least half of a decade and get him into training camp on time.

According to CBSSportsline.com, Walker's contract is worth $8 million. The deal includes a $4.1 million signing bonus and also includes $1.1 option bonus.

With Walker projected to be Tampa Bay's starting left tackle this season, McKay felt it was very important to get Walker into training camp on time.

"Every year your number one objective from a signing standpoint is to ensure that your rookies are signed and ready to go on the first day of training camp," said McKay. "Given our plan for Kenyatta this year, that goal took on higher importance."

Walker knew the importance of getting into camp on time, so he was content that the Bucs and his agent, Tom Condon, were able to reach a deal as quickly as they did.

"I'm happy to finally get this (contract negotiations) over with," said Walker. "I'm happy to be getting into camp early and I'm looking forward to the start of the season."

Walker feels like going up against his own defensive line everyday in practice has already helped him start to make the transition from college to the NFL at a much faster pace than he anticipated.

"Simeon, Warren, White and all of them are helping," said Walker. "I remember the first day at mini-camp, I was smiling, but the next day, they broke me apart. All of them are good and it's all going to help."

Walker will be tested right out of the gate when he lines up against Miami's DE Jason Taylor in the Bucs' first preseason game of the year, but he is eager to step up for the challenge.

"I've given that game some thought," said Walker. "Taylor is a good player and that is just someone else that is going to help me become a better player. I've watched him before and that defense is really good. It's just one more thing that is going to help me become the best left tackle Tampa has ever had."

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