Pass-rusher extraordinaire Dwight Freeney has signed with the San Diego Chargers, who contracted him to replace 2012 first-round draft pick Melvin Ingram who suffered a knee injury earlier this week. Freeney will receive a two-year, $8.5 million that could balloon up to $13.35 million with incentives, according to Pro Football Talk.
While the first waves of free agency have long since passed and not many talented players are left on the street, a few veterans are still available. The best available veterans are now starting to come off the market, too, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't appear to be interested in pass-rushers, despite posting one of the league's worst sack totals last season.
There's some logic to that approach, however, as the Buccaneers do have a lot invested in the defensive line. Their first two picks from 2011 are on the roster and have seen their careers so far limited by injuries, but the Buccaneers are expecting big things out of Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is an okay backup, while the Bucs added another two pass-rusher in the draft with fourth-rounder William Gholston and fifth-rounder Steven Means.
That amounts to a lot of youth and talent, but not a lot of production in the NFL so far. While the Bucs could conceivably post a very good pass rush this season, they may find that players that have disappointed for various reasons will continue to disappoint. The Bucs are again one injury away from starting Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who simply isn't good enough to start in this league.
On the other hand, signing someone like John Abraham or Dwight Freeney would have meant giving the players on the roster far fewer chances to develop and impact games. With Freeney commanding at least $5.25 million in guaranteed money this season the Buccaneers could not justify signing him and then using him as a pass-rush specialist only. While the Bucs have some $19 million in cap space and could afford that hit this year, they have bigger cap hits coming as they try to re-sign Mike Williams and need to save space to roll over to next season when they'll start to feel the effects of their spending spree of the past two seasons.
Of course, Tampa Bay may change its approach if one of its star defensive ends suffers an injury during training camp and a player like John Abraham is available.
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