David Hawthorne signs with New Orleans Saints

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 23: Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns is sacked by linebacker David Hawthorne #57 of the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

It appears that the last linebacker I thought capable of coming in and starting immediately for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is off the market: former Seahawk David Hawthorne has signed a five-year deal with the New Orleans Saints, the team announced. That leaves the Bucs with no solid, reliable starters at linebacker: Quincy Black is coming off a terrible season, Mason Foster was completely invisible at the end of last year despite a decent start, and Tampa Bay has a whole lot of unproven, mostly undrafted linebackers who can compete for the final starting position.

It's amazing that the Bucs have managed to look at their two weakest position in 2011, and then decide that not addressing them in free agency was the way to go. I'm referring to the linebacker and safety positions, both of which were humongous liabilities last season - and neither of those positions looks any better right now.

The Bucs still can add players at those position in the draft and in free agency, but not a lot of quality remains in free agency, and the safety crop in the draft is especially weak this season.

What amazes me more about this is the fact that the Saints keep adding these linebackers. They managed to sign my two favorite free agent linebackers this offseason in David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton - and both signed long-term deals. I'm slightly puzzled as to how that happened, or why the Saints think they need about 14 linebackers.

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