During last spring’s free agency period the Buccaneers brought a number of players – defensive tackle Henry Melton, safety Chris Conte, cornerback Sterling Moore, linebacker Bruce Carter and others – with experience in head coach Lovie Smith’s defensive scheme. That pattern continued on Thursday when Tampa Bay added another former Smith disciple in cornerback Tim Jennings who played in Chicago the previous five season. Jennings signed a one-year deal with the Buccaneers.
Jennings was released by the Bears on Monday after five productive season which included two Pro Bowl appearances (2012, 2013) and during the 2012 season, led the NFL with nine interceptions.
General manager Jason Licht, who broke the news of the signing to Chris Myers and Ronde Barber in the announcing booth during Thursday night’s game, said the main reason for bringing Jennings in was because of his experience in the defense.
“Half the battle is learning the system,” Licht said. “If we can get a guy like Tim (Jennings), like Chris (Conte), like Major (Wright) who know the system – and Ronde you can attest to this – it helps with the learning curve quicker. He can fit in quicker and help up continue where we left off last year.”
While Licht said Jennings could potentially work in with the nickel corners, he’ll leave that decision up to Smith and Frazier. For now, he’s just excited to bring a veteran Pro Bowler aboard.
“Exactly where he fits in, that will be up to Lovie and Leslie,” Licht said. “But we know that we have a solid veteran that knows the system, and thats key. We’re pretty excited about getting a couple time Pro Bowler who’s a tough guy and had his best years under Lovie.”
At age 31, the Bucs are hoping their is some gas still left in the tank for the former Georgia Bulldog standout who began his career in Indianapolis, playing for former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy and who was a rookie on the Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl championship team.
Jennings underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier this year, and also was was arrested for speeding, reckless driving and driving under the influence in January. PewterReport.com reports that Jennings is not expected to face any discipline from the NFL.
“Once the whole regime came in and everybody was here, I kind of knew,” Jennings told Brad Biggs via NFL.com “But they also gave me a heads up and told me I would be out there competing for a job. I had my best years here. I made two Pro Bowls. I played some good football. I had some ups and downs with injuries but for me, this is where I played my best football.
“They told me they were going to go younger.”
For his career Jennings has accounted for 463 tackles, 20 interceptions, nine forced fumbles and has three touchdowns to his credit.
Jennings will be added to a crowded defensive backs meeting room that includes current starters Alterraun Verner, Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins, Jude Adjei-Barimah, Brandon Dixon, Isaiah Frey and Sterling Moore.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org