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Free Agent Spotlight: OLB Deone Bucannon

The former Arizona Cardinal could fit well with Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers

NFL: Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Bowles has the opportunity to reunite with a familiar face in the free agent frenzy - but things aren’t quite what they were before when the two worked together. Former Cardinal Deone Bucannon will hit the open market and has more than enough experience to help the Buccaneers at a variety of positions.

Deone Bucannon’s Career

Bucannon was selected by Arizona in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and played safety and cornerback under Bowles his rookie season. In that season, he had one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, two sacks, 86 tackles, and eight tackles for loss. In 2015, Bowles moved on and Bucannon moved to outside linebacker. He’s been there ever since and has amassed 318 tackles, six forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, two interceptions, five sacks, and nineteen tackles for loss.

Bucannon has had an injury plagued few seasons and he was lost in the shuffle of Steve Wilks’ 4-2-5 defense where he never really found his place. When he was one the field, Bucannon was an impact player.

Why The Buccaneers Need Him

Bucannon can provide solid depth at what is becoming a position of need. With the Bucs starting four linebackers, they need to beef up the group. Bucannon will provide a veteran presence and can start immediately if Noah Spence finds the transition to outside linebacker difficult. The Bucs will certainly target linebacker in the draft as well, but this is a team that saw numerous linebackers hit with season ending injuries. It’s still not a certainty that Kendell Beckwith will return while Jack Cichy recovers from a torn ACL and Kwon Alexander recovers from his own ACL tear ahead of his free agency stint. Basically, the Bucs need to bring in as many linebackers as they can to fully prepare for this shift.

How Much Will Bucannon Cost?

Bucannon is coming off his rookie contract, where he earned $6.2 guaranteed for the first four years then received $8.7 million in his fifth year when his option was picked up. At 27 years old and only seeing 34.9% of snaps, Bucannon is the prime candidate for a short term prove it deal. With his injury history and lack of production/playing time last season, Bucannon will look to be back in a 3-4 scheme and have the opportunity to make up for some of the money he lost with his 2018 performance.

Will It Happen?

Bucannon isn’t going to be one of these big money, first week guys. He will linger on the market for a little while which may allow the Bucs to wait until after the draft to pull the trigger. If Devin White is their pick and they re-sign Kwon Alexander, the Buccaneers would be in incredible shape to trot out a David-Alexander-White-Bucannon line in the middle of their defense. With Bucannon’s cover skills, David could return to getting after the quarterback while Bucannon drops back. It makes too much sense to discard. Of the spotlights we’ve done thus far, this seems like one of the more likely pairings.