There are plenty of changes on the horizon for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of which being the defense. With Todd Bowles taking the reins, the Bucs are expected to shift to a 3-4 alignment. If they decide to go that route, there is a lot of work to be done. As of now, they only have one starting caliber linebacker under contract - Lavonte David. Yes, you could say they still have Kendell Beckwith, but Beckwith missed all of 2018 with complications from a fractured ankle suffered in a car crash.
Kwon Alexander is a pending free agent and the rest of the linebackers on the roster are special teamers and depth pieces. Last time I checked, a 3-4 alignment required at least four starting linebackers. Enter former Jag and Bronco Brandon Marshall.
Brandon Marshall’s Career
Brandon Marshall was selected in the fifth round, 142nd overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. During his tenure with the Jags, Marshall played in only five games. He was waived by the Jags twice before being signed off their practice squad by the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve in 2013. Marshall would then sign a one year deal three consecutive seasons before receiving his four year, $32-million dollar deal in 2016. Denver then declined his $9-million dollar option allowing him to become a free agent. Marshall has extensive experience as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, with 310 tackles, 113 assists, 28 tackles for loss, 21 passes defensed, 6.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
The experience in the 3-4 would fill a huge need. It’s possible that players like Carl Nassib, Noah Spence, and Jason Pierre-Paul can transition to playing the outside linebacker positions, but not a guarantee. There are sure to be certain packages featuring Nassib and JPP, but it seems unlikely either will be a full time outside linebacker. As for inside linebacker - there is the potential that Kwon Alexander re-signs. David, who plays weakside, may be an outside linebacker due to his ability to get after the quarterback, but he’s also solid in coverage which could allow for him to shift inside. Marshall could fill one of those starting ILB spots.
What Will Marshall Cost?
Marshall never made more than $585,000 until his last three seasons where he made $2.55, $2.5, and $5-million. Given that he has had some injury issues, only playing in 38 out of 48 games over those three seasons, Marshall may be in line for a one-to-three year range until he can prove he can stay on the field. With that in mind, Marshall will likely garner right around that $5-6 million per year as he isn’t going to be breaking the bank on the open market. A very affordable player at a position of need for the new look Bucs
Will It Happen?
Again, this seems like one of the more likely scenarios as far as free agency is concerned. He’s an affordable option at a position the Buccaneers need to address. If they’re truly switching to that base 3-4 look, there are a lot of changes that need to be made to the front seven. Finding a productive, affordable, veteran piece to help that transition should be welcomed.