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Bucs may be in market for Cardinals free agent S Tony Jefferson

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire

Good news for Buccaneers fans. It looks like Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson will indeed test the free agency market. That has not been a given for the fourth-year pro out of Oklahoma because the Cardinals want him back.

In fact, the Cardinals have been trying to negotiate a new deal with Jefferson’s representatives, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic, but it appears as though Jefferson is bent on seeing what he can get on the open market.

As we said, that’s good news for the Bucs, who will be in the market for an upgrade (or two) at safety this free agency season and might have Jefferson on their target list. After all, he might not be in the league were it not for Bucs general manager Jason Licht.

Licht was a Cardinals vice president and director of player personnel when Arizona signed Jefferson as an undrafted free-agent following the 2013 draft, so few outside of Arizona know what Jefferson is capable of better than Licht.

And one thing Jefferson is likely capable of is improving the back end of the Bucs defense. He’s really come into his own as a strong safety the last couple years, recording 174 tackles, four sacks, 10 pass breakups and five forced fumbles over that span.

With numbers like that the competition for Jefferson should be great and it may cost a team as much as $7 million a year to get him but at roughly $65 million the Bucs have more cap space than most and there’s no doubt Jefferson would fit their scheme.

With the Bucs possibly leaning toward making Keith Tandy a starter at free safety the Bucs could add Jefferson and suddenly have two strong playmakers at a position where they have struggled to make plays for several years now.

This is a situation that bears following for the next few weeks as we get closer to the start of the new league year and the free-agency signing period. The Cardinals aren’t about to let Jefferson go without a fight but come March 9, they may no longer be able to win that fight.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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