TAMPA – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the easiest and most direct route in finding a place on their roster for new safety T.J. Ward, simply swapping out one thumper for another.
It took a preliminary swap to create the opening, though.
The Bucs on Sunday traded safety J.J. Wilcox and a 2019 seventh-round draft pick to the Steelers for a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, the team announced.
The deal creates the opening the Bucs needed after they signed Ward to a one-year, $4.5 million contract shortly after he was released on Saturday by the Broncos.
Ward now joins a safety corps that includes projected starters Chris Conte and Keith Tandy as well as rookie Justin Evans, the team’s second-round draft pick (50th overall) this past spring.
Wilcox came to the Bucs during free agency, signing a two-year, $6.25 million deal that included a guaranteed $1 million roster bonus as well as a $250,000 miscellaneous bonus.
The deal also called for Wilcox’s $2.5 million salary for the 2017 season to be full guaranteed but the Bucs are no longer on the hook for the salary, only the bonuses.
The trade was one of several moves made on Sunday by the Bucs, who re-signed several of the players who were with them during the preseason to their practice squad.
The most notable was probably linebacker Riley Bullough, who fans got to know in-depth through the exposure the Bucs have received by being the subject of this year’s season of Hard Knocks on HBO.
Also being signed to the Bucs practice squad on Sunday were:
DE Sterling Bailey
RB Russell Hansbrough
FB Austin Johnson
S Isaiah Johnson
OL Mike Liedtke
T Marquis Lucas
WR Freddie Martino
CB Jonathan Moxey
LB Eric Nzeocha
WR Bobo Wilson