TAMPA – Looking to bolster a defense that came on strong in the second half of 2016, the Bucs made a bold move late Saturday night to grab a Pro Bowl safety, landing former Broncos star T.J. Ward.
During the mayhem of over 1,000 players being released by 4 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Ward was let go due to his hefty price tag for Denver. It did not take Bucs GM Jason Licht long to convince Ward to come to Tampa on what is believed to be a one year, $5 million deal.
Former Broncos' S TJ Ward reached agreement with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a 1 year deal worth up to $5 million, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 3, 2017
Ward will turn 31 in December, was originally a second round pick of the Browns in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl for the first time in 2013 with them. However, Ward signed a four year $23 million deal with Denver in 2014, and then made the Pro Bowl again in his first two years there, including the Super Bowl winning season of 2015.
T.J. Ward has had some serious production through his career pic.twitter.com/rW3ypgtcWE
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 3, 2017
Back to the Tampa Bay secondary, Ward will join a group of safeties that include veterans Keith Tandy and Chris Conte, plus free agent signee J.J. Wilcox and rookie second round pick Justin Evans.
You would have to believe the Bucs are keeping Tandy and Conte as players who succeeded in Mike Smith’s defense down the stretch. Tandy moved into a starting role in final part of 2016 and excelled. Conte, who originally was signed as a free agent from the Bears, was re-signed by the Bucs after much debate this off season.
The Bucs will obviously not be releasing Evans. So, is Wilcox the odd man out or will Tampa Bay keep five safeties and sacrifice someone at another position?
There is also a possibility of injury involving one of those players above that creates the roster spot, too. We will wait to see, when the Buccaneers make this and other moves official later today.