According to this article from Pro Football Talk, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to sign two defensive tackles to play behind the talented young duo of Brian Price and Gerald McCoy. The Bucs could use some depth behind those two, which is why they are looking at former Chicago Bears- and Houston Texans- DT Amobi Okoye, as well as former Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Derek Landri.
While in Houston, Amobi Okoye struggled to perform to a first-round level and was terrible. He played poorly against the run and did nothing else of note, and it was somewhat surprising that he lasted that long. Both young and talented, Okoye never put it together with the Texans, even though many analysts tabbed him for a breakout.
However, he re-invented himself as a quality defensive lineman while with the Chicago Bears last season and is one of the best 25 free agents left at this point. He can fit in with the Bucs, but I’m more excited about the other guy that Tampa is interested in; former NFC South DT Derek Landri.
The Carolina Panthers play on the interior of the defensive line took a turn for the worst when veteran stalwarts Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis were released. Afterwards, the Panthers played with some awful DTs, so Landri was forced to play under a heavy workload and was strained under the pressure of playing too many snaps per game. He played poorly in Carolina, and it was obvious that he would be better off in a reduced role on a team with more talent at DT.
Matching up Landri with the Philadelphia Eagles was the perfect catalyst to get Landri’s career going, as he definitely benefited from playing in fewer snaps and was a terror in the Wide 9 scheme. The fact that he came at such a cheap price and was so destructive in those snaps is incredible, because no interior defensive lineman has as quick of a first step as Derek Landri; it’s insane. He is one of the top 15 free agents available, even though the Bucs will need to watch his snap count closely if they sign him. It’s well worth it, however, since he gets pressure at an unparalleled rate in those opportunities.
At this point, the Buccaneers are more interested in signing Okoye; he is their top option right now. The Bucs are really looking for depth behind their starters, because their backups are terrible. I would much rather see either Okoye or Landri playing than Roy Miller.
The Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals are also interested in adding Amobi Okoye, so expect it to be an interesting race between these three teams. Although Derek Landri is the fallback option right now, fans shouldn’t be disappointed if the Bucs lose out on the Okoye race. Landri is more talented than Okoye, but the Bucs want Okoye more because they are looking to give their new DT significant playing time in the rotation. Neither of them are players who can hold up in a heavy workload, but Landri is less likely to hold up of the two of them.
I would rather sign Derek Landri, because he is both cheaper and more talented. But both of these guys would fit in with Tampa and give the team two good rotational pass rushers. It’s just that Landri is better because of his ability to get quick penetration and explode through an offensive line. Of course, we’ll take whichever quality DT we can get to shore up our team. The fact that Landri will come at a cheaper price for a team that made three huge signings this offseason is important, but either way, we really need another good tackle.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.