Baker was brought in prior to the 2017 season on a three-year deal, and problems started on HBO’s Hard Knocks where he was portrayed as not a hard worker and took pleasure in berating his own team’s kicker during kicking drills. After playing in an unproductive fifteen games with fourteen starts (only 43% of teams snaps) where he was able to total 33 tackles (second among Bucs defensive tackles) and half a sack, and after being berated by team members for a costly offsides penalty on fourth and three which gave the Panthers a first down and led to the eventual go ahead touchdown and a loss. Less then a year after signing his three year deal he was released by the Buccaneers.
With his fourth year in Tampa McDonald had his second best season as a Buc playing in fourteen games while starting three (43.5% of team snaps) he managed twenty tackles and was second on the team with five sacks, and was one of the most consistent players on the defensive line during his four seasons in Tampa. Even though he was productive last season in a limited rotational role for the Buccaneers at 31 years old with eight seasons in the league the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose not to resign him as a free agent in the off season.
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Ayers signed a three-year deal with the Buccaneers in the 2016 free agency bringing some much needed help to the defensive end position, and played very effectively in 2016 playing in twelve games while starting ten and amassing 28 tackles but a more important 6.5 sacks. 2017 was a much different story for Ayers as he again played in twelve games while starting ten (55.43% of teams snaps) with 31 tackles but he only had two sacks as part of the NFL worst 22 sack season. After turning 32 years old at the beginning of last season, having a large drop off in sacks last season, and missing eight games in the last two season the Buccaneers chose to release him after the second year of a three-year deal.
Signed by the Buccaneers prior to last season McClain came in and played in fourteen games while starting nine of them (65.2% of team snaps) at inside and outside corner. Playing quite well as he totaled 46 tackles with three interceptions and returning one for a touchdown in week two off Mike Glennon and the Bears. After having the worst pass defense in the NFL the Buccaneers knew they would be addressing the secondary in the off season, and thus far have chosen not to re-sign him.
Signed by the Buccaneers literately a week before last season started Ward was brought in hoping to solve the safety issues, but instead he played in twelve games while starting just five (38.2% of team snaps) and was not much of a factor on the NFL’s worst pass defense. He totaled 41 tackles and one fumble recovery and was outplayed by both Chris Conte and Justin Evans. The Buccaneers chose not to re-sign him when his contract ended.
These five players totaled 187 (20% of total) tackles, 7.5 (34% of total) sacks, three (23% of total) interceptions and one touchdown which clearly wasn’t enough as we know having the worst defense in the NFL. Now not saying that these five guys were the only ones to blame for that defense lack of toughness, physicality, and aggression but clearly some improvements needed to be made at certain positions.
While cutting some of the dead weight to begin the improvement this off season how were the Buccaneers going to replace these defensive players at positions that clearly needed improvement, and who were the additions and what effect will they have on last seasons worst defense in the league?