2012 NFL Free Agency: Lofa Tatupu signs with Atlanta, Curtis Lofton to hit market?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 01: Curtis Lofton #50 of the Atlanta Falcons tackles Kregg Lumpkin #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during play at the Georgia Dome on January 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons won 45-24. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons have signed former Seattle Seahawk Lofa Tatupu, according to Adam Schefter. The veteran middle linebacker is a one-time All-Pror and three-time Pro Bowler, but the linebacker was out of football last year and saw his effectiveness severely diminished in the previous two years. Most importantly for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tatupu has played middle linebacker throughout his career, and the Atlanta Falcons drafted middle linebacker Akeem Dent in the third round last year.That gives them two middle linebackers, while Curtis Lofton is scheduled to be a free agent. It appears the Falcons are ready to move on from Lofton.

As I've said before, I think Curtis Lofton would be a terrific addition for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as he is the best linebacker on the free agent market. Lofton is a terrific run-stopper who is adequate in coverage. He has experience being the signal caller and so-called quarterback of the defense, a position that rookie Mason Foster filled last season for the Bucs. Lofton is also just 25 years old, which means he has plenty of good football ahead of him. The best part of Lofton's game: he can actually make a tackle! Imagine that.

For the Buccaneers, former starting weakside linebacker Geno Hayes is a free agent, which means the team must add at least one starting linebacker. With Quincy Black's terrible play last season, his starting position must also be challenged. Even Mason Foster, who at least had a good start to the 2011 season, should not be guaranteed anything. The linebacking corps needs to be much improved next season, and signing Curtis Lofton would go a long way toward getting that done.

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