The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the teams in the hunt for Cleveland Browns linebacker/defensive end Jabaal Sheard, Rand Getlin reports. They'll have to compete with the Cincinnati Bengals, Seattle Seahawks and New Englang Patriots for his services. Sheard played under Bucs defensive line coach Joe Cullen in 2013 when both were with the Cleveland Browns in 2013.
Sheard has 23 career sacks since being drafted in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft, but most of those sacks came in his first two years, when he lined up at defensive end. Since moving to outside linebacker his production has dipped, though he did turn into an outstanding run defender. The Bucs may hope that moving the 25-year-old back to defensive end can spark his old pass-rush talent.
There's certainly some reason to believe that. Sheard has played on the left and right side at both defensive end and linebacker and has never really settled into any one position. Giving him some surety and focus could help him turn into an impact pass rusher, though as with previous signings, there's no certainty here.
What this means for Michael Johnson's future isn't exactly clear. Sheard is more of a pure pass rusher at end than Johnson, and the team does still have young talent Jacquies Smith. Do they plan to start Johnson and Sheard, turning Smith into a situational pass rusher again? Or will this simply move on from Johnson, saving $2 million?