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William Gholston signs five-year Bucs contract extension

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers locked down a pass rusher ahead of free agency.

Defensive end William Gholston signed a five-year contract extension with the team Monday, the Buccaneers announced. The deal is worth $27.5 million in base value and includes the possibility of an additional $9 million in incentives, two sources informed of the contract details told NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

ESPN first reported Gholston's new deal.

A fourth-round pick in 2013, Gholston has improved each season during his career, and is particularly good against the run. The 25-year-old earned 49 tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss, six run stuffs and a forced fumble in 14 games in 2016. He missed the final two games last season with a dislocated elbow -- he did not need surgery on the injury.

Gholston was ranked No. 95 on Around The NFL's Top 101 Free Agents list when the deal was announced.

Locking down Gholston was an offseason priority for an improving Bucs defense. Gholston keeps a solid Bucs defensive end group intact ahead of free agency and the draft. Gholston owns versatility to play several positions, giving Tampa flexibility along the line with ends Robert Ayers, Noah Spence and interior players Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald.

The Bucs' defense played strong down the stretch and re-signing Gholston keeps that arrow pointing up. The move should not preclude Tampa from adding a rusher in a draft deep at the position.

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