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Bucs stay true to their word, emphasize defense in retaining free agents

After locking up Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, the Bucs continue to address depth on defense.
Bucs safety Andrew Adams started 11 games last season after signing with Tampa Bay in mid-September. [PAUL SANCYA  |  Associated Press]
Bucs safety Andrew Adams started 11 games last season after signing with Tampa Bay in mid-September. [PAUL SANCYA | Associated Press]

TAMPA — The Bucs weren’t kidding when that said they wanted to keep their defense intact.

While their biggest move of the free-agency period was signing quarterback Tom Brady, the Bucs have re-signed eight players from last year’s team, five of them on defense.

The Bucs placed the franchise tag on outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, then retained fellow pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul on a two-year, $27 million deal, completing two signings that head coach Bruce Arians said were a top priority early on in free agency.

But they also addressed key spots by re-signing insider linebacker Kevin Minter, defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches and safety Andrew Adams on one-year deals. All three were valuable contributors to the defense.

Adams, who signed for $1.01 million, started 11 games for the Bucs after signing with the team in mid-September, playing at least 98 percent of defensive snaps in five of those games as rookie Mike Edwards found his footing.

Related: Bucs keep Cameron Brate with restructured contract

Minter, who will make $1.19 million, stepped in when rookie linebacker Devin White had an early-season knee injury and missed nearly four full games.

Nunez-Roches became one of the first interior defensive linemen off the bench last season, playing 26 percent of defensive snaps after logging just 5 percent the previous season. Nunez-Roches, whose deal is worth $2.25 million, should play a bigger role this upcoming season with Beau Allen’s departure to New England. The Bucs still hope to retain defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, but he didn’t sign last season until May.

The Bucs also signed former Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg and retained tight ends Antony Auclair, the team’s primary blocking tight end, and Tanner Hudson, as well as receiver Bryant Mitchell, who returns after missing all of last season with an Achilles injury.

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman is another player the Bucs wanted to retain, but he has been linked to the Eagles.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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