Buccaneers address need for LB, WR, punter in free agency
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t make much of splash on the opening day of NFL free agency.
The team needs helps in a number of areas — especially on defense — but doesn’t have much space under the salary cap to pursue solutions.
A trade sending receiver DeSean Jackson back to the Philadelphia Eagles was finalized, linebacker Deone Bucannon and receiver Breshad Perriman agreed to join the Bucs on one-year deals, and punter Bradley Pinion is set to sign a four-year contract.
Those were the highlights Wednesday, when the club also released defensive tackle Mitch Unrein, re-signed linebacker Kevin Minter and agreed to terms on a one-year deal with last year’s leading rusher, restricted free agent Peyton Barber.
Jackson, unhappy with his role in Tampa Bay’s offense over the past two seasons, was due to make $10 million next season. The Bucs sent him and a 2020 seventh-round draft pick to the Eagles in exchange for a sixth-rounder this year.
Releasing Unrein, who spent all of last season on injured reserve after suffering a concussion during training camp, saved another $3.75 million.
The Bucs said the eighth-year pro failed a physical. He was one of three defensive linemen Tampa Bay signed in free agency last March.
Bucannon spent the first five years of his career with Arizona. The decision to join the Bucs reunites him with former Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and one-time Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.
Perriman, meanwhile, had 16 receptions for 340 yards and two touchdowns for Cleveland last season. He agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with Tampa Bay after the Browns made a deal to acquire Odell Beckham Jr.
Pinion agreed to terms after veteran Bryan Anger was released on Tuesday. He due to earn $3 million next season.
Bringing the former 49ers punter in as a replacement essentially fills two needs because Pinion was also a strong kickoff man in San Francisco.
That will free kicker Cairo Santos, whose kickoffs were a concern last season, to focus on placements.
The Bucs are coming off consecutive 5-11 finishes and haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, the second-longest drought in the NFL.
They spent generously in free agency a year ago to upgrade a porous defense that still needs fixing. The unit ranked 27th in yards allowed and next to last in points allowed in 2018, when Tampa Bay lost six times when the offense scored between 27 and 35 points.
The acquisition of Bucannon fills an opening created by the loss of linebacker Kwon Alexander, who’s signing with the 49ers. He also played safety during his career, including time a hybrid role the Cardinals called “money-backer.”
Perriman had agreed to remain in Cleveland before the Browns obtained Beckham. With Tampa Bay, he’ll get an opportunity to help fill created by trading Jackson and losing Adam Humphries to the Tennessee Titans in free agency.
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