Less than four months after his playing career in Tampa Bay came to an end, former Buccaneers linebacker Shelton Quarles rejoined the team in another capacity on Wednesday.
The Bucs announced that they have hired Quarles as their new pro scout.
The 35-year-old Quarles was released by Tampa Bay in April after he failed a team physical. His release also created approximately $3 million in salary cap room and allowed the Bucs to avoid paying him a $1 million roster bonus.
Although he disagreed with their decision at the time, Quarles didn't hesitate to take the Bucs up on their offer to re-join the team in another capacity.
“It was tough, but you know it’s a part of the game and you understand that because of football,” said Quarles. “The reality is that you want to play forever but that’s not necessarily going to be the case.
“I don’t think it was as bad as what it seemed. To have the opportunity to be part of the organization is great for me and great for my family. We love the fans, ownership they have been great to us and it feels good to be apart of this organization.”
Quarles, who played in the Canadian Football League before he joined the Bucs in 1997, spent 10 seasons with Tampa Bay.
The Bucs have 2005 second-round draft pick Barrett Ruud filling Quarles’ shoes at middle linebacker this season.
While he had the opportunity to continue his football career elsewhere, Quarles couldn't pass up the opportunity to be part of the Bucs organization again.
"We had opportunities, but for me staying in Tampa area and being apart of the organization was what I wanted to do in whatever capacity,” said Quarles. “So they offered me a position and it was no-brainer for me.
Quarles was a special guest at Tampa Bay’s training camp practice on Sunday morning at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex.
As a pro scout, Quarles will work closely with Bucs director of pro personnel Mark Dominik, who ironically discovered Quarles in the CFL and played an integral part in helping to bring the linebacker to Tampa Bay.
Quarles helped Tampa Bay’s defense finish nine of the past 10 seasons ranked in the top 10. In two of those seasons, the Bucs ranked No. 1 overall in the NFL in total defense.
He started 113 of the 148 games he played in with Tampa Bay. Quarles proved to be a versatile player, playing at both strongside and middle linebacker.
A former Vanderbilt standout, Quarles finished his pro career with 985 tackles, four interceptions, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and 28 passes defensed. He also helped the Bucs win Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002.
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