Usually roster cut deadline weekend is all about focusing on which players a team is keeping. But, for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the bigger news out of the weekend is surely the signing of three-time Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward. The news was first reported by NFL Network’s James Palmer.
Per report, 3-time Pro Bowl S T.J. Ward is expected to sign with #Bucs
Ward was previously with the Denver Broncos before he was cut this weekend – mainly due to financial reasons. He was elected to the Pro Bowl each year from 2013-2015 (two with Denver, and one with Cleveland, where he previously played).
Ward will sign a 1-year deal with Tampa, which can earn him up to $5 million if he hits his incentives. Ward will be 31 years old by the end of the 2017 season, and though his production has dropped slightly, he is still considered one of the top playmaking safeties in the NFL. Ward has 564 tackles, 42 pass breakups, 10 forced fumbles, 8.5 sacks, eight interceptions and three fumble recoveries in his seven seasons in the NFL.
Ward’s signing could mean the release of one of the current safeties on the Bucs’ roster. Due to the team’s trust in veteran Keith Tandy, and the investment they have in rookie Justin Evans, it likely won’t be either of them. It is also unlikely to be Josh Robinson, who is labeled a safety, but is really on the roster for his special teams ability.
That leaves J.J. Wilcox and Chris Conte. Both do have guaranteed money with the Buccaneers, so parting ways with either will cost a small amount of cap to eat – Wilcox is owed $3.1 million, Conte is owed $2.5 million. However, those two seem to be the likely choice due to the position Ward will take, and their performances this preseason.
Once Ward passes his physical, we’ll see if the Bucs choose to cut a player loose or continue with a glut of personnel at the safety position.
PewterReport.com’s Trevor Sikkema will have an in-depth Cover 3 column on what kind of skills and traits Ward brings to the Buccaneers on Tuesday.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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