Lost- Adarius Taylor, Kwon Alexander, Cameron Lynch, Riley Bullough
The Bucs lost three inside linebackers due to free agency, with Taylor getting signed to the Browns, Kwon getting a record contract for an inside linebacker, and Cameron Lynch has yet to be signed by a team. Taylor was a stable part of Tampa’s defense from 2016 to 2018. He added decent inside linebacker depth and made plays when he needed to. Taylor even picked off Drew Brees in the Bucs Week 14 loss against the Saints. Kwon, the heart and soul of the defense and a fan favorite, had no other choice but to accept the 45 million dollar deal given by San Francisco. Tampa Bay didn’t have enough cap to resign him, and they’ve hopefully done a good job replacing him with Devin White. As for Cameron Lynch, he swapped time from being on the Bucs and Rams bench. Bullough was the star of HBO’s Hard Knocks a season ago but failed to produce in camp and on the field. He was recently signed to the Titans.
Added- Deone Bucannon, Devin White, Judah Davis
The Bucs tried to fill the void of Kwon’s departure by adding three new off ball linebackers through free agency and the draft. Bucannon was the Cardinals 2014 first round pick and was brought in under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles as a safety-linebacker hybrid or “moneybacker.” Last season the Cardinals new head coach and staff failed to utilize him the way Arians did, causing him to get less playing time and falling off stat wise. Hopefully, being reunited with the coaching staff that drafted him will bring him to his former self. Devin White was drafted with the 5th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft after two successful seasons. He’s currently my leading candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Judah Davis was picked up as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson. He was part of their championship caliber defense but only played a situation role, swapping time with his identical twin J.D. Don’t be surprised if he ends up on the practice squad or signed after an injury.
Kept- Lavonte David, Devante Bond, Jack Cichy, Kevin Minter, Kendell Beckwith
The Bucs did a good job with resigning their inside linebacker depth in free agency. Every linebacker the Bucs kept, have more than a year of regular season experience. Lavonte David is coming into his 8th year after a bad season by his standards. With McCoy gone, this is his time to take over as the head of the defense. Bond came into his own late last season after injuries to David, Minter, Alexander, and Cichy. He was rewarded by being resigned to a one year deal early in the offseason. Cichy was doing well until Week 7 when he and Kwon Alexander both tore their ACL’s. I expect him to have a bounce-back season because he’s been through this before. He tore his ACL his senior year at Wisconsin. Kevin Minter has started on teams like the Cardinals, Bengals, and Jets before arriving at Tampa, and had a situational role late last season. He was on injured reserve by the end of the season but was also resigned. Beckwith had a great rookie season two years ago but injured his ankle in a car crash. He will not play this season as well, which probably means his career is over.