While it’s unfortunate that linebacker Kwon Alexander’s season has come to an end in a contract year, we must move on to the next man up. The question is who.
Alexander and his backup, Jack Cichy, are both on injured reserve, so they signed Riley Bullough to fill the middle linebacker spot. Bullough, fans may remember, was featured on HBO’s Hard Knocks last season at the Buccaneers’ training camp. He was cut at training camp’s end but did return to the Bucs in 2018 during preseason before getting placed in the IR and receiving an injury settlement.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone who’s not had time to develop the chemistry with the rest of the struggling unit, sink or swim. In his short career, Bullough registered two combined tackles in 2017.
Is he enough? The Bucs could certainly use some additional depth at the position. Who’s currently available in free agency that the team can pick up?
Here are the top available free agents according to NFL.com.
Navorro Bowman, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, is ranked 72 below the top free agent in wide receiver, Dez Bryant, who is ranked at the top at 19. The scouting report lists Bowman’s age being a factor as he is 30 and doesn’t add much value in a pass-heavy league beyond two downs. He does have 5 interceptions and 7 fumbles forced for his career. His best season was with the Niners in 2015, topping with 5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 4 fumbles forced.
Jerrell Freeman, formerly of the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts, is coming off of a torn pectoral on top of his PED suspensions, which heavily tax his reliability since he hasn’t played a full season since 2013 and has only played 13 games in the last two seasons. Freeman’s best season was in 2013 with the Colts—he had two interceptions, 6 passes defended, 5 ½ sacks and 126 combined tackles.
As you can see, quality options are few.