Despite having several proven pass rushers to choose from in free agency, it appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in no hurry to sign a veteran defensive end. While they will pass on DE Julius Peppers, among others, the Bucs have expressed interest in re-signing DE Jimmy Wilkerson, but the two sides aren't close on a contract.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might be in desperate need of pass rushers, but general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris haven't taken a desperate approach to free agency in terms of pursuing some of the better talent available at the defensive end position.
The Bucs are in need of pass rushers after notching just 28 sacks last year. Tampa Bay hasn't had a double-digit sacker since DE Simeon Rice accomplished that feat in 2005.
The free agent signing period hadn't been underway an hour Friday morning before reports surfaced that had this year's top free agent, Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers, scheduled to visit Chicago, where he's expected to sign. The 6-foot-7, 283-pound Peppers, 30, notched 81 sacks in eight seasons with the Panthers.
The Bucs expressed serious interest in possibly trading for Green Bay DE/LB Aaron Kampman, 30, before the trading deadline last year, which led many to believe the team would pursue him in free agency. However, with Peppers linked to Chicago, Seattle reportedly is making a hard push for Kampman (6-4, 260). He has 54 career sacks in eight seasons, but is coming off an ACL injury.
Tennessee is interested in re-signing DE Kyle Vanden Bosch (6-4, 278), but Detroit might not let that happen. Lions head coach Jim Schwartz reportedly showed up at Vanden Bosch's house to recruit him at the start of free agency. Vanden Bosch, 31, has 42.5 career sacks in nine seasons in the NFL.
The most interest Tampa Bay has shown in a free agent defensive end at this point has been in DE Jimmy Wilkerson, who notched 11 of his 12 sacks in his two seasons with the Bucs from 2008-09. Wilkerson (6-2, 270) is 29 and coming off a torn ACL injury he sustained in December. Wilkerson's agent and the Bucs have had several discussions in hopes of keeping the defensive end in Tampa Bay, but the two sides aren't close on a contract.
There still are a few other free agent defensive ends the Bucs could target as the free agent signing period moves along. That includes Chicago DE Adewale Ogunleye, New Orleans DE Charles Grant and New England DE/LB Tully Banta-Cain.
Ogunleye (6-4, 260) is 32, but has 67 career sacks in nine seasons in the NFL. Grant (6-4, 285) is 31 and has 47 quarterback takedowns in eight seasons. Grant, who reportedly will be released by New Orleans on Friday, is a player the Bucs expressed serious interest in possibly trying to acquire a few years ago before he signed a long-term deal with the Saints. Banta-Cain (6-2, 250) has 22.5 sacks in seven seasons, including 10 QB takedowns in his debut with the Patriots in 2009.
There's a chance the Bucs will wait to address their need at defensive end until the 2010 NFL Draft. Of course, there's still a chance Tampa Bay will address it in free agency, but it appears the Bucs are in no rush to improve their ability to rush the quarterback from the defensive end position.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.