The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost Adam Hayward and Dekoda Watson already this offseason, meaning both their linebacking and special teams units got a bit thinner and weaker. On Sunday, the team agreed to terms with a player to help fill the needs created by these two key departures.
Scott Smith of the Bucs’ official website announced that the Bucs reached a deal with former New England Patriots linebacker Dane Fletcher on a one-year deal.
Fletcher was a “tweener” linebacker prospect coming out of college at Montana State, and went undrafted. He was too small to play defensive end full-time in the NFL, but flashed some ability and athleticism as a linebacker, and flourished on special teams to help keep himself on the New England roster.
Last season he saw the field more and more in Bill Belichick’s defense, playing over 200 snaps and earning two sacks according to Pro Football Focus. He’s also a special teams ace, and will be a straight swap for Dekoda Watson as a backup linebacker and special teams “beast,” as Ian Rapoport said on Twitter.
The contract is a bit heavy for a backup linebacker, but add in what he’s expected to do on special teams, and he justifies his paycheck a lot more. Lovie Smith has placed an emphasis on special teams during his press conferences this offseason, so a player like Fletcher is held in high regard by the coach as a versatile and capable defender and special teamer.
He may also push Jonathan Casillas for the strongside linebacker job, meaning he’d be a great value pickup for the Bucs.
Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers