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The next player in our free agent spotlight series would give the
Tampa Bay secondary a veteran presence that it sorely needs."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections 2016 NFL DraftInjuriesFree AgencyGame FilmFree Agent Spotlight: CB Morris ClaiborneNew Jason Pierre-Paul Jersey ,104commentsThe next player in our free agent spotlight series would give the Tampa Bay secondary a veteran presence that it sorely needs.ESTShareTweetShareShareFree Agent Spotlight: CB Morris ClaiborneVincent Carchietta-USA TODAY SportsThe Buccaneers have been bad on defense for years. Whatever the front office has tried to do to fix that side of the ball in recent years hasn’t worked out in most cases, leaving the team in a place where it needs to make more moves this offseason. Tampa Bay has holes all over the defense, but in today’s free agent spotlight, we’re looking at someone who could be a welcomed presence in the secondary: veteran cornerback Morris Claiborne. There’s familiarity between Claiborne and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, as the two were together with the Jets during the last two seasons. Could Claiborne be following his former coach to Tampa this offseason? Let’s take a look at the possibility.Morris Claiborne’s CareerClaiborne spent 2009-2011 at LSU, starting 26 games over the final two seasons. He was named a unanimous All-American in addition to winning the Jim Thorpe Award and SEC Defensive Player of the Year in his final year with the Tigers. That led to a lot of hype for the 5-foot-11 corner. The Cowboys traded up and selected him sixth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Dallas scouts had only one defensive back ever rank higher than Claiborne on their draft board: Deion Sanders. Those expectations are ridiculously high. Unfortunately for both sides, Claiborne never lived up to those expectations in Dallas. In five seasons, he played 47 games. He totaled 151 tackles (126 solo), three tackles for loss, 27 passes defended, four interceptions, four fumble recoveries and a forced fumble. Playing in 47 out of 80 games in five years is definitely disappointing for a top-10 pick, so it’s safe to say the Cowboys’ comparison between Claiborne and Sanders didn’t end well.After disappointing in Dallas, Claiborne signed a one-year deal with the Jets. While with New York, he experienced a bit of a revival as far as health and performance go. In 2017, he racked up 43 tackles (34 solo), one interception and eight passes defended while starting 15 games. From there, he signed a one-year extension with the Jets for the 2018 season. Last year was a career year for the former All-American. He totaled career-highs in tackles(57, 44 solo), interceptions (two) and passes defended (14). In his two years with New York, Claiborne had 100 tackles (78 solo), three interceptions and 22 passes defended, all while starting 30 of a possible 32 games.Why The Buccaneers Need HimIt’s no secret that Tampa Bay needs help in the secondary. More specifically, the team could use some veteran help. Without getting into the youth at the safety position, you can just tell from the existing cornerbacks on the roster that there isn’t a lot of experience there. With Brent Grimes heading for free agency (or retirement?), the Bucs presumably have Carlton Davis and Vernon Hargreaves III set at the two corner spots right now. Davis is heading into year two, while Hargreaves is going into year four after missing 15 games with an injury in 2018.Simply put, the secondary needs help. Claiborne should be a reasonable option for Tampa Bay. The 29-year-old isn’t one of the top names on the market, but he’s more than serviceable. He would give the secondary a nice veteran presence while Davis continues to develop and the team figures out what it wants to do with fellow 2018 draftee M.J. Stewart.What Will Claiborne Cost?Since his initial four-year rookie contract, Claiborne has only been signed to one-year deals. He signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Cowboys in 2016 before inking a one-year deal worth $5 million with the Jets in 2017. After proving he could stay healthy for a good 15 games, he got a one-year, $7 million contract with New York in 2018. Considering he was healthy for 15 games last year, he could be looking for something in that range and potentially a little higher in 2019. However, with his injury history, he probably won’t be getting a long-term contract at the age of 29. He could get a multi-year deal, but anything more than two years would likely be risky. Projecting Claiborne’s market value is difficult. What he can get likely depends on how the rest of the market shakes out. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the No. 9 corner in free agency http://www.buccaneerslockerroom.com/authentic-kendell-beckwith-jersey , while Bleacher Report has him at No. 7. If the top corners are getting huge deals, Claiborne might be able to take advantage of it. But if the market moves slow, he could be a steal.Will It Happen?Whether this signing is realistic or not really depends on how the market plays out. The Bucs don’t have a ton of cap space to work with, so if teams are willing to overpay for Claiborne, they aren’t in a good position to compete with that. But if Claiborne comes at a reasonable price tag, Tampa Bay should be interested. Even if the team wants to draft another young corner in April, having Claiborne around would help them develop the youth they have rather than throw the young guys straight into the fire. The veteran’s familiarity with Bowles will help as well. Overall, Claiborne is a guy to keep your eye on this spring. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were back at One Buc Place on Wednesday, as they begin to prepare for their week eight matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.While the team came out victorious on Sunday, it wasn’t all smiles as they lost both Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy to ACL injuries. With both of them being linebackers, the Buccaneers needed to make moves to add depth to that position. The team signed veteran Kevin Minter and also brought back Riley Bullough. Lavonte David will stay at the weakside linebacker spot and starting strong side linebacker Adarius Taylor will be filling in the void left by Kwon at middle linebacker. That obviously leaves a hole at the strong side position, but the Buccaneers are turning to a familiar face in Devante Bond to fill that role, Dirk Koetter announced today.“He hasn’t been back very long. This is really the start of his second week. Again, we’re fortunate that he’s a guy that’s been with us for the last couple of years, so he does know the terminology and he was already plugged into all of our special teams,” Koetter said. “Not only three new players, but we also have several players that are going to be changing roles – he’s one of those guys. Maybe a little faster than we would’ve thought, but he’s going to move into the starting lineup as a Sam linebacker. He’s going to continue to be a mainstay on special teams.”The Buccaneers had their best defensive game of the season on Sunday against the Browns. One of the reasons why was the coverage was a lot better and rookie Carlton Davis was a big reason as to why. Davis has had an up and down season as a rookie, but you can tell each time he is out there he is beginning to gain more and more confidence and is continuing to grow as a player.“I have. I thought he had a good game last week, coming off a game that he missed due to health reasons. We know we’re going to have some growing pains with those rookies in the secondary. Carlton made a big play at the end of the game – you saw his length on display there,” Koetter said. Switching gears to the offensive side of the ball, Peyton Barber missed practice today due to an ankle issue, but Koetter has always been positive throughout the season on Barber. It’s not all his fault that the production isn’t there as the O-line isn’t opening any holes consistently for him, but Koetter admitted something today that I think fans have been waiting for. Koetter admitted that this football team is a pass first team.“Peyton right now is on a team that’s a pass-first team with really good skill guys at wide receiver and tight end. He’s just got to hang in there,” Koetter said. “I don’t think Peyton is doing anything wrong and I think RoJo [Ronald Jones] is doing a good job of catching up and closing the gap. Right now, we’re just a pass-first team.”It’s about time Koetter realized this. This team is far more effective when they pass the ball and has been for years. That’s not to say it need to happen 60 times a game, but if the run game isn’t working on a Sunday, Koetter knows he has the pass game to rely on and I think that’s important. The run game with Koetter has felt forced at times over the years. Koetter also didn’t want to get to much involved with the ongoing kicking controversy that seems to find the Bucs every year. Chandler Catanzaro redeemed himself on Sunday in overtime, but make no mistake, he will never say it, but you can tell Koetter is fed up with this kicking situation, as he should be.“Chandler [Catanzaro’s] a pro. That’s one thing I think is different about pro players. I think if a guy’s a proven player in this league, they are their own worst critic. They don’t need me or anybody else chipping away at them,” Koetter said. “You could tell by how emotional Chandler was after the game what that meant to him. It’s business as usual to use your terms. These guys are back to work and it’s a new week. We’re on to working on Cincinnati.”We’ll see what happens this week, but if Catanzaro misses another, he might as well not even fly back to Tampa Bay.