NFL NEWS: Tampa Bay Bucs
Bucs are more cautious this offseason releasing the underachievers with huge contracts with more familiar names from Lovie Smiths past.
In releasing quarterback Josh McCown, offensive tackle Anthony Collins, and defensive end Michael Johnson, the team unloaded $83 million in contracts. With that money freed up, the Bucs signed Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter for four year, $20.5 million deal; Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte for a one year deal; and Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton for a one year, $3.75 million deal.
Conte and Melton played for Smith while he was Bears head coach. The Cowboys run the Tampa 2 under Rod Marinelli, who shares a long history of coaching with Smith. Heres a look at the new acquisitions past accomplishments.
As the second round selection and 40th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Carters had a rather serviceable tenure in his four years as a Cowboy with a combined 242 tackles, three sacks, and five interceptions, playing 49 of 64 games. All of his interceptions came in 2014.
Predominantly playing outside linebacker, the 6-foot-2, 240 pounder may be expected to replace the departing Mason Foster at middle.
Contes had serviceable four-year period with the Bears, playing 57 of 64 games with the team through four seasons with 231 combined tackles, nine interceptions, one fumble forced and recovered.
Despite those numbers, Bear fans may remember him more as a goat that allowed the go-ahead touchdown in Dec. 2013 against the Green Bay Packers when Aaron Rodgers tossed to a wide open Randall Cobb in what ended up costing the Bears the playoffs. Nagging injuries limited his effectiveness in 2014 playing in 12 games, but leaving in seven of them.
In signing Conte to a one-year deal, he gets a fresh start plus he’s a low risk, potential high reward. He also may become the new starter opposite Major Wright should the Bucs proceed to cut another high-priced underachiever in Dashon Goldson.
Not necessarily a position of need, but the addition of Melton gives the Bucs rotational depth on the defensive front alongside Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald. Melton played for Smith from 2010-2012. Coming off his Pro Bowl season in 2012, the Bears franchise tagged him the following year. A torn ACL sidelined him three games into the season. Melton landed with the Cowboys the following season in a comeback of sorts with 15 combined tackles, five sacks, and two fumbles recovered. Despite his progress, the Cowboys declined to exercise his contracts three year option.
Meltons has 104 combined tackles, 20.5 sacks, three fumble forces, and four fumble recoveries since being drafted in the fourth round in the 2009 by the Bears.