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Bucs Beat

Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

For Bucs, very few attractive free-agent safety options



tanard.jpgWhen the Bucs released safety Tanard Jackson last week, the decision made safety an even more pressing need for Tampa Bay.

There’s little returning experience at the position, and just one player – third-year man Cody Grimm – who has actually started an NFL game.
All this begs an obvious question: How will the Bucs fill these holes?

The options, also obvious, are free agency and the draft. There are some interesting possibilities in the draft, which we’ll deal with at a later time.

For now, as it relates to the options remaining in free agency, let’s just say the pickings are a bit, well, slim.

What’s left of the free-agent safety market is rather uninspiring, with the biggest names left on the board being aging veterans who are, in some cases, well past their prime.

Maybe the most viable option remaining is O.J. Atogwe, released last month as a salary-cap casualty of the Redskins. Atogwe has 25 career interceptions but had something of a disappointing season in 2011, mostly because of an assortment of injuries that limited him to eight starts. Another drawback: Atogwe will turn 31 this summer, meaning he’s a temporary option, at best.

From there, the list only gets less interesting, including the likes of 34-year old Yeremiah Bell, recently released by the Dolphins, and 31-year old Chris Hope, a longtime Titan who also was limited by injury in 2011.

Beyond that… Gibril Wilson, anyone?

I think you get the point. If the Bucs are going to beef up their current lineup of safeties, it’s going to be hard to do it using the current available crop of free agents. If they don’t find answers via the draft, they’ll have to hope for some post-draft personnel moves elsewhere, and choose from that pool of players.

What they ultimately decide remains to be seen, but the Bucs, clearly, have to do something at safety.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 11:33am]


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