Tampa Bay solidified one of the fiercest front sevens in the NFL once edge rusher Jason Pierre-Paul made his return to the Bucs’ defensive line in 2019, but heading into 2020 depth remains an issue at outside linebacker.
Pierre-Paul finished the season with 8.5 sacks in 10 games while his fellow pass-rusher Shaq Barrett led the league with 19.5 sacks, combining for 28 of the Bucs’ 47 total sacks last year. Behind Pierre-Paul and Barrett however, Tampa Bay’s young edge trio of Cam Gill, Quinton Bell and Anthony Nelson have yet to accrue a single sack at the NFL level.
Head coach Bruce Arians was asked on Friday about the possibility of adding veteran free agent Clay Matthews III as a situational pass rusher.
“We talked about it but there’s a lot of financial stuff that’s going on right now with us,” Arians said. “To pay another veteran guy would be tough but yeah, we talked about it. We like our young guys. He’s been a good player for a long time but I think that I like our young guys better. When you bring in a veteran like that you’re taking away a spot from a special teams player because they’re not going to play on special teams. It’s your whole roster so it’s just another guy fitting into a situation, as far as a pass rusher but it’s your whole football team that you’re effecting.”
Arians also added that if injuries were to hit the Bucs’ outside linebackers, leaving the unit hobbled at some point this season, that it would make the scenario of adding Matthews a whole different story.
Over an 11-year career with the Packers and Rams, Matthews has totaled 91.5 sacks, 130 tackles for loss, 200 quarterback hits, 17 forced fumbles and six interceptions. In 2019 for the Rams, Matthews had eight sacks, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles over 13 games.