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Part II: Beefing up the secondary through free agency

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In this second installment of examining available free agent safeties, let’s look at how these two strong safeties would fit into the Buccaneers’ secondary. The Saints’ Roman Harper and the Texans' Bernard Pollard.

As we’ve discussed, strong safety is the weaker of the Bucs' two safety spots. While Tanard Jackson is versatile enough to play both safety positions, the Bucs likely want to keep the young star happy at free safety, so strong safety would be a priority.

Take recent Super Bowl champion Roman Harper, for instance. Harper recorded 81 solo tackles in 2009, second on the team and a career high. Though he did not record an interception, he spent most of his time helping free up teammate Darren Sharper for one of his league leading nine picks.

Harper was one of the big reasons the Saints’ defense turned it around in ’09. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety played a large part in the Saints’ run defense, where most of his tackles came. He was also an anchor on a defense that got thrown on more than 36 times per game, mostly because opposing offenses were playing from behind so often. At 27, Harper is in the prime of his career and would make a good addition to contend with Sabby Piscitelli for the starting strong safety job in 2010.

The Texans’ Bernard Pollard made a name for himself in ’09 with his 81 solo tackles and four interceptions. He also recovered three fumbles and recorded 1.5 sacks. He was the cornerstone of the secondary on a unit that finished 13th in total defense. He was third on the team in tackles, and at just 25 years old, has many of his best years ahead of him.

At 6 foot 1, 224 pounds, he’s a little heavier than the average safety, but his 4.59 40-yard-dash speed compliments his size to make him a threat against both the run and the pass, also making him ideal for a zone defense like the Tampa Two.

Both Harper and pollard are coming off career years and will likely be restricted free agents if no collective bargaining agreement is reached, which seems inevitable. Harper may be looking for a big contract now that he has the Super Bowl ring checked off his bucket list, while Pollard may be tired of losing the division to the Colts each year and could be looking for a fresh start. Either player would be worth signing for the right price, though Pollard is younger and would be less expensive.

Keep your eye on both of these safeties, as they will both be highly sought after in free agency. Tomorrow two more free agent safeties will check in, and we’ll continue to discuss how they could fit into the Buccaneers’ secondary in 2010.