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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

More defense: Bucs sign DE Robert Ayers to 3-year deal

Robert Ayers had 9.5 sacks for the Giants last year.

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Robert Ayers had 9.5 sacks for the Giants last year.



The Bucs have made their second major addition of the day on defense, signing free-agent defensive end Robert Ayers, who had 9.5 sacks for the Giants last year, to a three-year deal.

Ayers, 30, had visited the Bucs on Wednesday night but left without a contract, moving on to visit the free-spending Jaguars, who have been aggressive in the first two days of free agency. But Tampa Bay was able to get Ayers -- according to NFL Network, the three-year deal is worth $21-million, with $10.5-million guaranteed -- giving them a new starting pass-rusher on the defensive line.

"Robert is a versatile pass rusher who can play a variety of positions along the defensive line and has been successful both from the interior as well as the edge," general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. "He has posted 20 sacks over the past three years, is coming off the best season of his career and is an ideal fit for our 4-3 defensive system. Experienced pass rushers who can provide consistent pressure and disrupt an opponent's passing game are critical to our defensive success and Robert will do all those things, along with providing veteran leadership."

The Bucs had gone after Carolina's Charles Johnson earlier in the week, only to see him return to the Panthers for less money. After the Giants spent big to re-sign Jason Pierre-Paul and add Olivier Vernon, Ayers was looking for a new team, and the Bucs have a veteran who has 26.5 sacks in his seven-year NFL career.

Ayers' signing comes just hours after the Bucs signed four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes to a two-year contract worth $13.5-million. That's four signings averaging better than $6-million a year in the last three days, following deals to keep running back Doug Martin and add guard J.R. Sweezy on the opening day of free agency.

[Last modified: Friday, March 11, 2016 5:48pm]


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