UPDATED: The Bucs have re-signed LB Adam Hayward to a three-year contract. Hayward led the Bucs in special teams tackles in 2010.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed free agent linebacker Adam Hayward to a three-year contract. Hayward was an unrestricted free agent after playing his fourth season with the Bucs last year.
“Warrior, a Buccaneer, a gentlemen in the community, probably our special teams MVP last year,” said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. “I believe he won the hammer. He’s a guy that is going to come back and give us a lot of what we’ve been building the last couple of years, and I’m really excited to have him back.”
Hayward, who was a sixth-round draft pick out of Portland State in 2007, has made most of his impact on special teams during his time with the Bucs. In 2010, the 26-year-old Hayward led the Bucs in special teams tackles with 20, and he also had a fumble recovery as well. Hayward has 58 career special teams tackles in his four-year career.
Last season was also the year the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Hayward started to see significant playing time on defense as well. He started three games at the Sam (strongside) linebacker position in place of the injured Quincy Black. Hayward finished the season with 20 defensive tackles, three tackles for a loss, three passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. He also recorded his first NFL sack in Week 11 against San Fransisco.
“He has the ability to play a little bit of Sam backer which he started at for us. He also knows Will backer and he also did some part-time Mike for us,” said Morris. “Not to mention what he does in some of our I packages. He goes in on goal line and is a starter and some of our short-yardage things. He has a couple of defenses that we named for him last year and put him in for particular reasons. He’s become a very valuable person around here as far as his role and what he does for us.”
While Hayward has some experience practicing at middle linebacker, Morris said that Hayward will not factor into the starting competition at the position right now.
“I wouldn’t say right now. Mike is not a strength in what he does,” said Morris. “That’s not a knock on him. He plays all three backers and that’s pretty tough. He’s never really done a full-time deal at Mike. He had a little bit of a stint at it last spring to get him ready in case there was an emergency situation. I’m not going to factor him out either. You got to let them practice first. You got to let those guys play, and put him in his position. He’ll go out there and compete, so right now he’s not a factor because he can’t go, but I’m not going to factor him out and say he won’t be a factor at some point.”
Because of his work on the field and all of the charitable work that he does in the community, Hayward was named the Bucs’ Man of the Year in 2010. Hayward is also popular in the Bucs locker room. Buccaneers starting Will (weakside) linebacker Geno Hayes reacted to him re-signing with Tampa Bay.
“It gives us a lot of comfort in the organization,” Hayes. “He is a guy that is versatile, he can play all three [linebacker] positions. On top of that he is a great special teams player. It gives us a certain comfort level. He knows how to play and we have confidence in him. It’s good to have him back on our side. “
To make room on the roster for Hayward the Bucs cut undrafted rookie running back Deonte' Jackson. The Bucs also released long-snapper Aaron Feld and signed tight end Jose Cruz.~ Wolf Heard contributed to this report
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