Niners S Goldson will visit Tampa Bay
The Bucs first attempt to improve the NFL's worst pass defense will center around signing 49ers safety Dashon Goldson.
The two-time Pro Bowl player will make his first visit to the Bucs, agent Ben Dogra confirmed Tuesday. The Bucs have arranged for a private plane to pick up Goldson in California and he will arrive in Tampa Bay tonight.
The Bucs are hopeful in reaching a long-term agreement with Goldson that could be announced as early as Wednesday. It's the same all-in approach the Bucs used to stike quick free agents deals a year ago with Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks and Eric Wright last season.
Goldson, 28, would replace Ronde Barber at free safety and could usher the end to his Hall of Fame worthy career. Barber met with Bucs coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik last Thursday and was offered a chance to remain with the team for a 17th season. But he was informed at the time that the Bucs planned to sign a veteran safety during free agency.
Barber, who turns 38 in April, said Friday he would take some time to decide whether to play or contemplate retirement. If he does return, it would likely would not be as a starter. The Bucs moved Barber to safety last season after signing Wright and he finished with 91 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble.
Goldson was a key component to the 49ers NFC Championship team last season and is known as an enforcer in the secondary. He had 69 tackles with three interceptions and a forced fumble in 2012 and was named to his second straight NFC Pro Bowl team.
Because the Bucs prefer to play a lot of single safety, man free defensive schemes under Schiano, Goldson would give them a ball-hawking free safety who is a factor in coverage. He has 14 career interceptions, including nine in the past two years.
The 49ers, Eagles and Lions also were considered frontrunners in the pursuit of Goldson. In Tampa Bay, he would be paired at safety with Mark Barron, the Bucs first-round pick from Alabama last year.
The Bucs lost five of their last six games to finish 7-9 in the first year under coach Greg Schiano. They fell 38 yards shy of tying the mark for the the worst pass defense in NFL history, allowing 4,758 passing yards and 30 touchdowns.
Starting cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Eric Wright both were suspended four games for Adderall use. Talib was traded to New England for a fourth-round pick while Wright voided $7.5-million in guaranteed salary for 2013 and filed a grievance to recoup that money.
According to multiple reports, the Bucs have had discussions with the New York Jets about a trade for cornerback Darelle Revis, who is in the final year of his contract. It's a complex deal, however, and there is a glut of cornerbacks available in free agency.
The Jets are believed to be seeking a first-round pick for Revis, who is expected to as for $14-$16-million per year. Even if the Bucs and Jets could agree on draft pick compensation, the Bucs would have to reach a contract extension with Revis, who missed most of last season after tearing the ACL in his left knee last Sept.
When healthy, Revis has been the league's best shut-down cornerback with 18 of his 19 career interceptions coming in his first five seasons before the injury. He also has some advocates on the Bucs coaching staff. Dave Wannstedt, the Bucs special teams coordinator, was his head coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Safeties coach Jeff Hafley was Revis' position coach with the Panthers.
Furthermore, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik and Jets GM John Idzik worked together in Tampa Bay's front office for six seasons.