Usually when teams sign a former UFL player with one year on an NFL practice squad in the offseason, that player doesn't make it onto a team's regular season roster. Usually, he's just a camp body -- an insulting term, but not an untrue one. So that's basically what I expected to happen when the Bucs signed Danny Lansanah this offseason.
Instead, the Bucs found a quality starting outside linebacker, who even managed to fill in for Lavonte David for two games without much of a drop-off. At 29, Lansanah found a way to finally get some playing time, and he's been a very pleasant surprise in a season filled with disappointments.
He's been so good, in fact, that Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the tenth-best 4-3 outside linebacker in the NFL, despite being a part-time player for most of the season.
It'll be interesting to see what the Bucs do with Lansanah going forward. He's proven to be a very capable player at strongside and at weakside linebacker. Could he play middle linebacker, too? At 6'1", 248 lbs. he certainly has the size to do so, and he appears to have the necessary speed and coverage awareness as well.
With Mason Foster's contract ending this offseason, letting him walk and moving Lansanah to the middle would be an intriguing option. But Foster has played reasonably well over the past few weeks, and could be re-signed, too. That'd leave Lansanah back in a part-time role on the strong side.
The Bucs will be in a bit of a luxury position this offseason. They have two very good starting linebackers and could re-sign a solid middle linebacker. It'll be interesting to see what happens there.