Adam Schefter has reported on Twitter that the agent of former Saints linebacker Jonathan Casillas has informed him the Buccaneers have agreed to terms with Casillas on a one year contract worth “up to 3 million dollars”
LB Jonathan Casillas reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with Bucs, per his agent @blakebaratz.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2013
This means the Buccaneers have raided a divisional opponent to help bring depth to the linebacker corps that will likely lack Quincy Black in 2013. So what are the Buccaneers getting in Casillas?
Casillas has started fewer than 10 games in his NFL career, which has been entirely with the Saints. He has 94 career tackles, and 3 passes defended. According to Pro Football Focus, he played 256 snaps at linebacker in 2012, and made 14 “stops”, or tackles that prevented the offense from having a successful play. He’s very athletic, but not very big, and at 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighing just under 230 pounds, he likely provides the Buccaneers an option as a weakside linebacker or any other variety of pass coverage linebacker in different formations. He’s unlikely to beat Lavonte David for any playing time, but if Lavonte plays in the middle and Mason shifts to the strong side, Casillas is a strong option to play weakside linebacker and cover the field from sideline to sideline. This would typically only happen in passing situations, and otherwise Casillas provides excellent depth.
Stephen Holder of the Tampa Bay Times thinks Casillas might compete for time as strongside linebacker. While I disagree, I will give you his thoughts and allow you to decide:
He’s an outside linebacker, I imagine he’d compete to start at SLB where Quincy Black still dealing with effects of severe neck/arm injury
— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) March 13, 2013
The nature of this contract, a one year deal worth “up to” three million, indicates the Buccaneers are asking Casillas to prove his value on the field. The 3 million likely includes escalators for performance, and plenty of other playing time based incentives. So Casillas will have to work hard to earn his full paycheck, but if he does, it will be a huge boost for the Buccaneers’ linebacking corps.
We’ll be sure to keep you up to date as more information becomes available.