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Free Agent Spotlight: S Antoine Bethea

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Could the Bucs snag a veteran with Super Bowl experience?

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Antoine Bethea has been one of the league’s best safeties for over a decade. A former sixth-round pick out of Howard way back in 2006 by the Indianapolis Colts, Bethea has been nothing if not remarkable. He won a Super Bowl with the Colts under former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy, and is a three-time Pro Bowler. He most recently played for the Arizona Cardinals, including one year under Bruce Arians in 2017. He turns 35 in July.

ANTOINE BETHEA’S CAREER

Antoine Bethea has had one hell of a career. He’s accumulated over 1,200 tackles (over 900 of them solo tackles), nine forced fumbles, 24 interceptions, and 75 passes defensed in 184 starts over his thirteen-year career. That kind of production has earned him over $50 million over the course of his career.

WHY THE BUCCANEERS NEED HIM

The Bucs have a lot of young but unproven - and arguably undeveloped - talent at safety, including Justin Evans, M.J. Stewart, Jordan Whitehead, and Isaiah Johnson. Adding an experienced vet like Bethea, who has worked with Arians before and has Super Bowl experience, could bring a lot to the table. Even if Bethea can’t earn a starting job, he could help mentor and teach the younger guys.

WHAT WILL BETHEA COST?

Bethea’s cap hit with the Cardinals last season was just $3.6 million. Coming up on 35, the Bucs could likely get him for cheaper than that. Tampa Bay currently has the least amount of salary cap space in the NFL. Cuts are coming, and the Buccaneers have holes to fill.

WILL IT HAPPEN?

It very well could! If Bethea still wants to play, and believes he can play, he would be a low-risk moderate-reward type player for somewhere at or a bit above the veteran minimum. Bethea once ran a 4.36 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He’s sure to be a step or two slower now, but he might still be an impact type player for the Bucs. If not on the field, then surely at least off of it. He would know Arians’ system, and can help teach it and other techniques to the younger players. He knows what it takes to win, and he’s affordable.