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Buccaneers trade Dashon Goldson to Washington

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Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have traded Dashon Goldson to Washington for a sixth-round pick in 2016, giving up a 2016 seventh-rounder in the process, per Albert Breer. The Bucs will still pay part of his salary, reports Jenna Laine. Update: Both Jason La Canfora and Roy Cummings report that the Bucs will pay Goldson the full $4 million in guaranteed money he was owed, which means that they basically got a minor improvement in picks in 2016 as the only compensation for not cutting him.

The fact that the Bucs managed to get anything for Goldson is a surprise, given his massive $7.5 million salary this year and his mediocre play the past two seasons. Earlier reports had suggested the Bucs would cut Goldson after signing Chris Conte, who they likely view as a starter at a free safety, but apparently they found someone willing to give up something for him.

Aside from the minor trade up in the 2016 NFL draft, the Bucs also see the benefit of Washington taking on some of Goldson's salary. Goldson was set to make $7.5 million, $4 million of which was fully guaranteed. It's not clear how much of that the Bucs will pay, but anything they can get off the payroll is a positive.

The Bucs originally signed Goldson to a massive five-year, $41.25 million contract in 2013 to boost the secondary. But Goldson struggled to find his place in Greg Schiano's defense, and was even suspended a game for his repeated illegal hits to the head of defenseless receivers. The safety managed to fix that problem, but was at best an okay player in Lovie Smith's Tampa 2-based defense and the Bucs are wise to move on from him -- and mostly from his salary.

Tampa Bay has now traded both of their 2014 opening day starting safeties over the past six months. Mark Barron was traded to the St. Louis Rams mid-season, and now Goldson's gone too. In fact, most of the defense has been completely overhauled from Greg Schiano's days -- the main holdovers are Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David, with Johnthan Banks in a supporting role. That kind of turnover is common when a team changes scheme, but this seemed to happen in record time.

Goldson is just the latest in a series of high-profile free agency the Bucs have had since 2012, when they went on a massive spending spree. Eric Wright was cut after one year, having voided the guarantees in his contract by getting suspended. Carl Nicks suffered a chronic injury on his foot, and then saw that exacerbated by a recurring MRSA infection before being let go. Darrelle Revis lasted just one year, even though the Bucs paid him $16 million and traded a first-rounder and more for him, and now Goldson's saying goodbye too. Even 2011's Michael Koenen appears to be on his way out after another disappointing season. The Bucs even got rid of Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins, who they signed to big contracts just last year.

Of all the big spending the Bucs have done in free agency over the past three seasons, only one player has really stuck around and earned his contract: Vincent Jackson. That's a pretty bad return on investment, Bucs.

Meanwhile, the Bucs do need to find at least competition for Chris Conte at free safety, because he alone won't likely cut it -- he was mediocre-at-best in Chicago. Bradley McDougald is set to compete with Major Wright at strong safety, and either player should do fine there. The Bucs have been looking at safeties in the draft, so you can probably expect a mid-round pick at that position to add some competition for Conte.