Next underneath the free agent spotlight is another option to help shore up the back end of the defense.
The Buccaneers may have picked up Chris Conte’s one year option, but they are still in need of help at both cornerback and safety. Conte is a serviceable starter, but many fans would like to see an upgrade at the position. Kenny Vaccaro may just be that affordable option for the Buccaneers come free agency.
Kenny Vaccaro’s Career
Vacarro was a highly touted prospect out of Texas and was ultimately selected with the fifteenth overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft by the division rival New Orleans Saints. During his tenure, Vaccaro has started 67 games, defensing 29 passes with eight interceptions, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one touchdown, 7.5 sacks, and 283 tackles. Vaccaro was inconsistent to say the least, but when he was good he was good. Similar to that of current safety Conte, there are going to be times where Vaccaro swings and misses or blows a coverage, but his athleticism allows him to make splash plays and turn the momentum.
Why The Buccaneers Need Him
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Again, the Bucs only have two safeties currently under contract. Although upgrading would be ideal, depth is also a concern. Vaccaro can come in and compete for a starting position but worst case scenario for him is being a backup, which would still benefit the Bucs. Signing an affordable safety with nearly 70 career starts to be an insurance policy isn’t exactly the worst plan I’ve ever heard. Vaccaro has primarily played strong safety in his career, but has experience at free safety and versatility is something Mike Smith looks for in his safety group.
What Will Vaccaro Cost?
Vaccaro isn’t going to break the bank by any means, no matter what team he signs with. He may end up with a one or two year “prove it” deal if teams are skeptical of his sometimes erratic play. That said, Spotrac has him listed as a statistical comparison to players like Barry Church, Antoine Bathea, and Andrew Sendejo. Those players are making $2.2 million, $4.25 million, and $362,500 as their annual average values respectively. Look for Vaccaro to fall in the $2-3 million dollar AAV range, and even that may be on the high end.
Will It Happen?
It’s one of the more likely scenarios given the need at the position – both in terms of starter and depth – and Vaccaro’s ability to play both safety positions is going to be intriguing for a defensive coordinator who likes to swap his safeties in and out at both spots. Free agent signings are more than stars and Pro Bowlers – there’s 53 players on the roster and as we saw last season – depth is key.
Be sure you’re checking out all of our Free Agent Spotlights every day leading right up to Monday March 12 when the legal tampering period begins.