The Buccaneers have made their first foray into free agency with a player from another team, as they will sign former Arizona defender Deone Bucannon, who will play linebacker in Tampa Bay.

This according to Ian Rapoport who has it as a one-year deal.

Earlier in the day, the Buccaneers announced they had re-signed quarterback Ryan Griffin to a two-year contract.

Bucannon played safety and the “moneybacker” linebacker role with the Cardinals. The 6-foot-1, 212-pound Bucannon was a first-round draft pick to Arizona in 2014 and has played in at least 12 games every season since. Bucannon can play linebacker in a 3-4 base scheme, but his real value comes in nickel defense as a the “moneybacker” role in sub packages.

The Bucs have a big need at linebacker with the loss of starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who signed a four-year, $54 million contract with San Francisco, including $27 million in guaranteed money. Alexander, the team’s fourth-round pick in 2015, suffered a torn ACL last October and may not be ready for the start of the 2019 campaign with the 49ers.

Bucannon started his career in the NFL at safety but was asked to fill in at linebacker for the Cardinals in 2015, and despite being undersized, he thrived in the defense, recording 112 tackles, three sacks, two fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, three passes defended, and an interception returned for a touchdown.

Cardinals SS Deone Bucannon
Cardinals SS Deone Bucannon – Photo by: Getty Images

In his time in Arizona, Bucannon spent four years playing under Bruce Arians and spent his rookie season under Todd Bowles when he served as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator. Bucannon brings versatility to the position as he can play inside or outside linebacker and work well in multiple schemes in coverage as a safety.

In his five seasons in Arizona, Bucannon played in 70 games, accumulating 404 total tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles, 27 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Bucannon, who is PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ Best Bet at safety, also drew interest from the New York Giants where former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher serves in the same capacity.

The Bucs are also interested in re-signing reserve linebacker Kevin Minter, who was a second-round pick in Arizona in 2013, which was Arians’ and Bowles’ first season with the Cardinals. Minter played under Arians from 2013-16 before moving on to Cincinnati for a season.

In 2018, Minter signed with the Jets to play under Bowles once again, but didn’t make the 53-man roster. He signed with Tampa Bay last year as an injury replacement for Kwon Alexander after Week 7 and played well, recording eight tackles, three special teams tackles and one sack in a limited role in five games before a calf injury forced him to join Alexander on injured reserve.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

18 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose the draft will determine if Bucannon will play SS or LB, unless the move him around. I’m glad we got some sort of LB, though, after losing Kwon. We really should draft Devin White.

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  2. This is going to be interesting. Signing up a number of former Bruce Arian’s Cardinals. They were competitive back then a few years ago with them, it will be fascinating to see if he can replicate the success using some of those same players.

    This is a tactic used by other former coaches the Bucs had. Both Koetter and Smith tried the same thing with limited success. Here is hoping it works out better this time.

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    • Personally trust BA and Bowles’ chances more than Koetter and especially Smith’s when it comes to getting the most out of their ex-players, just based on their systems and coaching ability alone.

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  3. I like this signing and hope he can return to his 2015 form.

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  4. Had hoped we’d add him once free agency began, even better that it’s a 1-yr deal. Vet that knows the system and has had success in it. Always an option to resign him next off-season if he excels, when we’ll probably be in better shape cap wise.

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  5. Curious if Barber lets him wear his usual #20. Don’t believe it’s been retired, though could be wrong..

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  6. I dig it

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  7. Very good signing!

    He is going to be the money backer for this scheme.

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  8. Just checked out his highlight reel on Youtube. He changes his number a few times over the years in the video. I guess we’ll see how it goes on his one year prove it deal.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2UYU2x3SvQ

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  9. Defense is going to be transformed and be aggressive. Bucannon is a good starting point.

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  10. Nothing but upside here, great signing. And we just released Anger. More signings to come.. who’s next?

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  11. Having just signed LB/SS Deone Bucannon, Keep an eye on DE/OLB Markus Golden. BA is a creature of habit and likes guys who have played well for him before.

    Golden 6-3, 260 was drafted in the 2nd round, played for Bruce Arians for three seasons in Arizona and in 2016, had 12.5 sacks before blowing out a knee in 2017. He has had a full year to recover and can be had on a I year prove it deal like Bucannon. No risk it, no biscuit! GoBucs!

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    Rating: +14. From 14 votes.
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    • Golden and Minter would be nice. Throw in a DB and OG and I think the Bucs have something cooking heading into the draft!

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  12. Really like this pick up. Knows the system and can be a coach on the field especially with the secondary. Brings a new veteran voice into the locker room.

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  13. This helps a lot because now we could focus on best player available at spot 5.

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  14. Linebackers who some suggest shouldn’t be taken with a pick as high as five are all of a sudden getting paid big money, Mosley, Kwon. Seems to make more sense now taking White with that fifth pick.

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  15. No one get’s paid a lot of money coming out the draft anymore, that why draft pick are so valuable these days. The get rookie contracts, for Winston that was $24M over 4 years. In the big scheme of things that’s charity work.

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  16. So the Bucs released Anger this season and picked up a cpl of cheap Vets. Let’s hope they release Fire and Fury when the season begins!

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