LANDOVER MD - DECEMBER 12: Keiland Williams #35 of the Washington Redskins is gang tackled by Ronde Barber #20 Geno Hayes #54 and Dekoda Watson #56 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at FedExField on December 12 2010 in Landover Maryland. The Buccaneers defeated the Redskins 17-16. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
With Quincy Black and Adam Hayward both scheduled to be free agents, the Bucs don't have a lot of bodies at outside linebacker. Geno Hayes is scheduled to be the starting weakside linebacker, and while the fourth-year player struggles with consistency at times, he's also shown a penchant for big plays. This is a contract year for Hayes, and he will have to be more consistent to earn a new contract. Despite that, the weakside position is his to lose, and it seems unlikely he'll actually lose it.
Quincy Black has been the starter at the strong side for the past two years, with Adam Hayward being the primary backup. However, because both players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents and if neither player is re-signed, Dekoda Watson would be the starter with either Mason Foster or Tyrone McKenzie being the primary backup.
At weakside linebacker, the backup situation is even stranger: there is no backup. The Bucs have J.D. Folsom and Simoni Lawrence under contract, but the two practice squad players have not appeared in any game, and I really can't say much about them. There's a startling lack of depth at outside linebacker with the Bucs. And because of that, it seems exceedingly likely that Quincy Black, Adam Hayward or both will be resigned. The Bucs can't afford to be one injury away from starting J.D. Folsom.
If the Bucs fail to re-sign Black or Hayward, they're almost certain to go after a free agent outside linebacker. The best 4-3 OLB on the market would be James Anderson of the Carolina Panthers. He's a solid player who makes few mistakes, but still makes plenty of splash plays. It seems likely, though, that the Panther stays in Carolina. Instead, the Bucs could go after Thomas Davis. Another good Carolina Panther linebacker, but he comes with injury concerns after suffering knee injuries these past seasons.
With Dekoda Watson and Geno Hayes being the scheduled starters and little depth behind them, the Bucs need to go out and sign some free agent linebackers. It seems likely they bring back Quincy Black and Adam Hayward, but there's some quality on the market if they fail to re-sign their own veterans.