The Buccaneers knew heading into the 2013 offseason that the secondary was a top priority. On Wednesday, the the Buccaneers made the first step in rectifying the league's worst pass defense with the signing of free agent Dashon Goldson.
For the last two seasons the Buccaneers have had a secret weapon for highly visible free agents – a private jet.
Last March the Buccaneers sent one for Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright. On Tuesday afternoon one was dispatched to California to pick up another big-named free agent.
While the Darelle Revis sweepstakes continues on – with the Tampa Bay being a major player – the Buccaneers didn’t waste any time shoring up the secondary in other ways.
49ers’ free agent safety Dashon Goldson is the newest member of the Buccaneers after agreeing to a contract late Tuesday evening in Tampa according to the NFL Network and multiple sources. A press conference is scheduled for 4 p.m. this afternoon at One Buccaneer Place.
Initial reports say Goldson's contract is worth $41.25 million over five years, with $22 million guaranteed.
The addition of Goldson, a Pro Bowler the last two seasons, brings another physical presence (along with Mark Barron) to the Bucs secondary. The former Washington star is 28 and is 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. Goldson is a ballhawk, forcing 19 turnovers in the last four years (14 INTs, five forced fumbles).
Tampa Bay has faced Goldson twice in the previous three seasons and saw firsthand the impact he can make. In a 2010 21-0 win at San Francisco, Goldson had seven tackles in the loss. A year later, the Niners destroyed the Buccaneers 48-3 and Goldson notched four tackles and a forced fumble, separating Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams from the football in the first half.
Tampa Bay has acknowledged they would like veteran safety Ronde Barber back for another season and have offered him time to make a decision. Some are speculating that the signing of Goldson would signal the end of the Barber era in Tampa Bay, but that may not be the case. The Buccaneers showed a lot of dime defense in 2012 and could conceivably have Barber, Goldson and Barron on the field at the same time.
The 49ers 2012 franchised-tagged safety has recorded 346 tackles, 14 interceptions, three sacks, and 39 passes defensed for his career.
On Tuesday PewterReport.com publisher Scott Reynolds wrote about some of the reasons that could have went into the signing of Goldson.
• Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowler (2011, 2012), was an All-Pro in 2012 and helped San Francisco reach the Super Bowl last season. The Bucs like his accolades, postseason experience and production.
• A six-year pro, Goldson could help be a mentor to Mark Barron, the Bucs’ first-round pick in 2012, and aid him in his development. Barron and Goldson are very similarly-built players that have the same type of abilities. Having Goldson as a role model can accelerate Barron’s learning curve in the NFL. As a 16-game starter at strong safety during his rookie season, Barron had 89 tackles, one interception and one forced fumble.
• Defensive-minded head coach Greg Schiano likes players that create turnovers, and Goldson has been a ballhawk in his six years in the league. The former 49er has picked off 14 passes and forced five fumbles. Goldson burst on the scene in 2009 as a first-time starter, notching 94 tackles, picking off four passes, forcing three fumbles and recovering a fumble. In 2011, Goldson posted a career-high six interceptions, in addition to forcing a fumble and recovering one
• Schiano likes big defensive backs, as does Tampa Bay’s front office. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Goldson would be the third-biggest safety on the team behind Barron, who is 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, and Sean Baker, who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 209 pounds.
• The Bucs’ scouts and front office has already seen Goldson’s impact firsthand. In 2010 during Tampa Bay’s 21-0 shutout win at San Francisco, Goldson finished the game with seven tackles. A year later at the same venue in the 49ers’ 48-3 thrashing of the Buccaneers, Goldson had four tackles and a forced fumble on a huge hit against Tampa Bay wide receiver Mike Williams.
• Goldson was scouted hard by new Bucs director of college scouting Eric Stokes. The former Washington Huskies standout played in the backyard of the Seattle Seahawks, where Stokes spent the first 15 years of his NFL career in scouting. Like Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik, Stokes has a fondness for big defensive backs.
• In a division that features a plethora of gifted tight ends, such as Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham and David Thomas, and Carolina’s Greg Olsen, having a safety with range and coverage ability like Goldson fills a big need. Barber and Barron had trouble against the NFC South tight ends at times in 2012, and having Goldson’s ability to match up in single coverage against premier tight ends gives defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan greater flexibility in calling plays.
–Scott Reynolds contributed to this report
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