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The Tampa Bay Buccaneer Free Agent No One Talks About: Adam Hayward

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A lot of Buccaneers are scheduled to be free agents: Quincy Black, Barrett Ruud, Cadillac Williams, Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood to name a few. But the one no one talks about is Adam Hayward. And despite the fact that he isn't talked about, it seems to me he has the biggest chance of returning next season. 

Hayward doesn't do anything particularly well, but he's competent at every facet of the game. He's not a spectacular run defender, but he's powerful enough to get past blocks and make the occasional play. He's a little stiff in space, but he's experienced and knowledgeable enough to produce in coverage. Besides that he's a valued special teams player with numerous special teams tackles each year. 

Adam Hayward's versatility is what makes him valuable, though. With four years of experience in the Bucs's system only Barrett Ruud has been a Bucs linebacker for longer. Hayward has played mostly the strongside position these past years. When Quincy Black was injured, Hayward and Dekoda Watson platooned at strongside linebacker for 5 games and there was no noticeable dropoff from when Quincy Black was still playing. But there's no reason why Hayward with his knowledge of the Bucs' defense couldn't play middle linebacker or even weakside linebacker. 

Re-signing Adam Hayward would give the Bucs some options at the linebacker position while they evaluate younger players. If they want to see Tyrone McKenzie or Mason Foster start at Middle Linebacker, they know they have a fairly reliable backup in Hayward. If they want to see how Dekoda Watson does as a full-time starter at Sam, they can always go back to Hayward. Moreover, they could always decide to have Hayward start at either position at the start of the season. 

With Ruud and Black as free agents, the Bucs could be 'forced' to re-sign either of those players to lofty contracts they may not be worthy of in their eyes, simply because the Bucs need experienced linebackers with this shortened offseason. However, Adam Hayward would be a cheaper option, and he wouldn't stand in the way of younger players the Bucs may want to see as starters in the long term like Ruud and even Black would. 

Adam Hayward has been a consistently productive player for the Bucs on special teams these past four years, and has shown he can be a reliable starter in limited time as well. At the same time, he's likely to come relatively cheap but would offer the Bucs a lot of versatility and options.