TAMPA – Ever since they signed defensive tackle Chris Baker in free agency, there has been a lot of talk about the Bucs possibly playing more three-man defensive fronts this season.
What the Bucs did on Wednesday won’t help quiet that speculation.
The Bucs signed a pair of young defensive ends on Thursday and while both have experience playing in the kind four-man fronts the Bucs usually employ, both were projected as 3-4 players coming out of college.
Sterling Bailey, a 6-foot-3, 296-pound University of Georgia product, was originally tabbed ahead of the 2016 draft as a 3-4 run stuffer best suited to fill a backup role.
The same role was projected for Tavaris Barnes, who came out of Clemson ahead of the 2015 but has been pegged more as 3-4 rush end than a run stopper because of his (6-4, 284 pounds) and burst.
Bailey has bounced between the Colts, Seahawks and Vikings since coming to the NFL last year while Barnes played in 12 games with the Saints in 2015 before winding up on injured reserve with the Seahawks last year.
Both are still in the developmental stages of their careers and at this point they’re just roster fillers, but it’s interesting that the Bucs brought them on at this point.
At the very least they bear watching through the summer, but take it from D-line coach Jay Hayes, it’s highly unlikely the Bucs will be making any kid of a major scheme change anytime soon.
“We have the potential to do a lot of multiple things and ‘Smitty’ (defensive coordinator Mike Smith has always had multiple packages,’’ Hayes said back at the beginning of the offseason workout program.
“So is there a chance that we could have a look that looks like a 3-4? Sure. But for to just wholesale change and be a 3-4, I don’t see that happening.’’