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Free Agent Spotlight: DE Dion Jordan

Pass rush depth is always a need, and this free agent may be able to provide some to Tampa Bay.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up Carl Nassib off the waiver wire in 2018, they found a big part of what would become an improved pass rush from 2017.

With Jason Pierre-Paul one year older, Vinny Curry released and an expected transition to a 3-4 defensive base, the team certainly looks in need of more pass rushers than currently on the roster.

Could Dion Jordan be a guy who is not only available, but able to produce for the team when called upon?

Dion Jordan’s Career

Jordan is a draft bust. Has been since nearly the very beginning of his career, and will be known as such no matter what happens moving forward.

However, life is never as simple as the tags we have placed on us. Sports Illustrated did a solid job of chronicling Jordan’s fall from what should’ve been stardom, and his struggles leading towards what he’s hoping is his comeback in progress.

The short version of his story goes a little something like this:

Dion Jordan was drafted third overall in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins who traded two picks to move up with the Raiders who used those picks to draft cornerback D.J. Hayden and offensive tackle Menelik Watson.

By his own admission, Jordan didn’t appreciate the job ahead of him. Thought he had made it, and could relax. I’m paraphrasing. But that’s what happened, and the result was two sacks and 26 tackles with zero starts in his rookie year.

He followed that up with one sack and just 20 tackles while starting one game and playing in just ten.

Jordan was suspended in 2015 and would ultimately miss all of 2016 due to an injury. In 2017, the Dolphins released him.

In the four years since he had gotten drafted in the Top-5 of his class, Jordan played in 26 of a possible 64 games, started one, got suspended for a full year and totaled fewer than 50 tackles and just three sacks.

Jordan ended up with the Seattle Seahawks for the 2017 and 18 seasons. In the two years with the organization he appeared in 17 games, notched five and a half sacks and totaled 40 tackles.

He missed 15 games. But they were due to injuries, not suspensions. So, in a way, this is a win for him. Looking for silver linings, Jordan’s last four missed games were isolated. He didn’t miss consecutive games at any point in 2018.

Those who cover the Seahawks seem to believe the team will allow Jordan to enter free-agency. He’ll turn 29 about a week before the new league year begins.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

There are several needs for the Bucs this off-season, and many of them reside on the defensive side of the ball. If the team is truly moving to a 3-4 defense, then who are the three primary linemen?

Figure, Vita Vea will be the nose, while Jason Pierre-Paul occupies one end spot. I suppose this leaves Gerald McCoy - who recent reports claim will be staying in Tampa Bay in 2019 - to play defensive end?

It’s not unheard of I suppose, but what about after these three? Who are the four linebackers? Lavonte David is the only 2018 starter still under contract for 2019.

Carl Nassib should provide some energy, but is he really ready for a full-time role? Maybe Noah Spence can revive his status on the team after an extremely disappointing 2018.

It’s hard to tell just how all the pieces will fall in line. But if there’s one thing a franchise looking to prove its worth with a roster looking to prove their worth can add to help them all be successful, it’s a man trying to prove his worth right along with him.

What Will Jordan Cost?

Here’s the part which could make this whole thing actually possible. Jordan isn’t going to cost much. Teams may be surprised to find how many teams actually call him. According to the SI article, more teams than they expected called after he was released by the Dolphins.

Imagine who might call now that Jordan has stayed clean for longer than a year and flashed some of the athletic talent which got him drafted so highly in the first place.

$1-3M seems to be the area I’d expect him to sign for, and this is after multiple teams bid against each other.

Any more than that is unjustified at this point.

Will It Happen?

It very well could, but only after the NFL Draft.

There is a solid stock of defensive line talent in this year’s class and enough edge rushers to stock a defense for the next 3-5 years.

But, how will the draft actually play out? This is the question. If the Buccaneers find themselves in possession of two edge rusher by the end of day two, then Jordan’s value to them goes out the window while other teams who missed out on those prospects will look to him as a guy with promise who is still on the right side of 30.

If Licht and Tampa Bay are the ones who miss out on the edge run, then they could certainly eye Jordan to fill a need for one or even two years.

I wouldn’t expect Jordan to find a landing spot until after the draft though. For multiple reasons. One being, he needs to find a spot he can actually get on the field to redeem himself.