Bucs LB Quincy Black is keeping his free agency options open, but says that Tampa has become his home and he has stayed in the Tampa Bay area throughout the offseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Quincy Black is keeping his options open as enters free agency. Black is entering his fifth NFL season after being the Bucs' starter at Sam (strongside) linebacker the past two years. While Black wouldn’t flat out say his preference is to re-sign with the Bucs, he pointed towards his actions this offseason.
“I mean, I haven’t left Tampa. I’ve been here the entire time hoping that things get settled,” said Black. “I’ve been in Tampa the whole time. Tampa is home.”
In case six years is needed to hit unrestricted free agency the Bucs tendered Black a contract for next season. Right now, the indications from the labor negotiations are that it will only require four years of experience to hit unrestricted free agency. When asked for his preference in free agency, Black was not declarative.
“I’m ready to work, honestly,” said Black. “It is kind of hard to talk about who you want to be with because there is so much uncertainty right now. For you to be certain about what you want to do in an uncertain world just doesn’t make sense, so I’m trying to go with the flow.”
Last season, Black was on pace to have his best year before a broken forearm ended his season in Week 14. He totaled 88 tackles with four tackles for a loss, two sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Black also missed two other games due to an ankle injury. If Black had stayed healthy he likely would have been the team’s second- or third-best tacklers for the season. Buccaneers head coach and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris added a 3-4 defense and 3-3-5 defense and used less nickel packages in part to keep Black on the field for all three downs and use him as a pass rusher.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder has worked out with teammates throughout the offseason and attended the first day of Bucs player-organized mini-camp in Bradenton, Florida at IMG Academies. Other impending Bucs free agents like linebacker Barrett Ruud and running back Cadillac Williams did not attend the workouts. Black said he enjoyed being back with his teammates.
“It is great, man. I love this,” said Black. “You can only do so much on your own. When we get the guys out here it is fun. You draw up some stuff and you do some game plan stuff. If it is me against [Freeman] it is kind of interesting because you kind of get to see a different aspect of the game. You see how the coaches kind of game plan against each other and you go through stuff and even as much as [screwing] up the cards and being like ‘who put this card up?’ This is supposed to be nickel, this is supposed to be regular, so it is kind of interesting.”
Some in the NFL think that Black could see a good market for his services in free agency. Morris has talked about how Black could fit into a 3-4 defense and that versatility will make Black an option for a variety of teams in free agency.
It would not be surprising to see the San Diego Chargers pursue Black. He was close with former Buccaneers special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. Black led the Bisaccia’s special teams unit with 24 tackles in 2008, the last season that Black was a backup that saw the field constantly on special teams. The Chargers run a 3-4 defense that could use Black as an inside or outside linebacker.
“I wish Coach Bisaccia all the best. Honestly, he was one of those guys that when I first walked through the door he told me you’re going to play for me,” said Black. “I’m hoping that what he does out there in San Diego is going to work out well for him.”
Another team that might have some interest in Black is the Chicago Bears. Black is from Chicago’s South side and Bears general manager Jerry Angelo was said to be targeting Black with the Bears' third-round pick before the Bucs stole him away in 2007. If Black signed with Chicago he could start along side Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs and be ready to lead the Bears linebackers when the older veterans retire.
Tampa Bay selected Black out of New Mexico in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He was used as a hybrid safety and linebacker in college. That unique position slowed Blacks' development as a professional, but he made strides last season. In 2009, Black broke into the starting lineup and started 16 games. He recorded a career-high 93 tackles with nine tackles for a loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery. Black almost passed those numbers in five less games last season.
The 27-year old Black is a young, ascending player that has his best football ahead of him. As an organization, Tampa Bay has said these homegrown players are the type of players they want to spend money on and sign to long-term contracts. That sounds like something Black is ready for.
“Well, I’m here and I’m ready to work,” said Black. “I’m looking to work. Regardless of the situation or the setting. I’m ready to work.”
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