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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

What free-agency moves are in store for Bucs' defense?



Few could find anything to complain about if the Bucs come away from the first couple of days of free agency with Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, which remains a distinct possibility.

Jackson is already signed to a 5-year contract and Nicks is scheduled to visit One Buc Place as early as Wednesday, meaning the Bucs offense is possibly going to be much improved.

But the Bucs still had the 30th-ranked defense in the NFL in 2011, and it's fair to ask what, if any, plans they have to address that unit through free agency. The top two cornerbacks on the market, Cortland Finnegan (already agreed to terms with the Rams) and Brandon Carr (headed to Dallas for a visit) look like they'll end up elsewhere.

Defensive back is not one of the deeper positions in this free agent class, so it's something to watch in the coming days. The Bucs have an obvious need in the secondary, with Ronde Barber still undecided about retirement, Aqib Talib scheduled to stand trial for felony assault in two weeks and Sean Jones unlikely to be re-signed.

The Bucs also are in the market for an impact player at linebacker, but they aren't known to be in talks with either of the two big-name middle linebackers available: Atlanta's Curtis Lofton and Detriot's Stephen Tulloch.

The Bucs' plans, if any, to improve their defense in this signing period might become clearer as the week goes on. We know they're making a concerted effort to assemble an explosive offense. But we're left to wonder what the coming days will bring on the defensive side of the ball, also a major key to the Bucs' future success.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 11:42pm]


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