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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs grab veteran former Cardinals lineman Earl Watford

Florida Football Insiders



Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

New Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians continues to put his stamp on his new team by bringing in familiar faces from his Arizona Cardinal days. That continued on Saturday, when the Buccaneers announced that they’re bringing in veteran offensive lineman Earl Watford:

Watford, who played for the Cleveland Browns a year ago, got his start with Arians and the Cardinals as a fourth-round draft pick in 2014.

Watford gradually worked himself into their starting lineup and started at both guard and right tackle 11 times in 2016 and then varied between right guard and left guard with nine starts in 2017, which was Arians’ last year there.

The Bucs offensive line struggled at times last season and specifically at right guard, where young offensive lineman Caleb Benenoch was repeatedly beaten and targeted by other team’s defensive lines.

The Bucs already made a massive commitment to left tackle Donovan Smith to begin free agency and also picked up the final year option on right tackle Demar Dotson deal. Tampa Bay is the only team in the NFL with at least three offensive lineman making $10 million or more for 2019.

That includes Center Ryan Jensen, who they signed as a free agent last year from Baltimore, and also left guard Ali Marpet, who was given a new contract late in last season.

Back to Watford, the Chicago Bears initially signed him as a free agent before last season, but cut him at the end of training camp. The Browns picked Watford up and he was active for 13 games, but never started in any of them.

Tampa Bay also has last year’s 4th round pick Alex Kappa, who likely will compete for playing time as well at Right Guard. Bucs GM Jason Licht grabbed Kappa in the 2018 draft out of Division II Humboldt State in California doing so out of the same mold as getting Marpet in 2015 from Division III school, Hobart College.

Now, Kappa and Watford will battle for playing time with Benenoch likely moving to be a backup tackle.

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