March 11, 2015

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hoping to make better decisions in free agency, beginning with the signing of Bruce Carter.

The Bucs agreed Wednesday to a four-year, $20.5 million deal with the former Dallas linebacker, while also continuing to purge the roster of mistakes made in free agency last winter.

Carter, 27, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cowboys. He played the past two years in a defensive scheme similar to the one the Bucs run under coach Lovie Smith and coordinator Leslie Frazier. The 2011 second-round draft pick started 32 of 49 games for Dallas, finishing with three sacks and five interceptions.

Meanwhile, highly paid defensive end Michael Johnson was released after one disappointing season. He signed a five-year, $43.5 million contract last March, but had minimal impact on one of the NFL's least effective pass rushes.

The Bucs cut tackle Anthony Collins on Tuesday and released quarterback Josh McCown last month. Both signed lucrative deals in free agency last March, however, the Bucs went 2-14 while ranking 29th in scoring and 30th in total offense.

Carter signed on a day when three other free agents - safety Chris Conte, center Stefen Wisniewski and defensive tackle Henry Melton - also visited One Buccaneer Place.

Smith and general manager Jason Licht made a big splash in the first 48 hours of free agency a year ago, launching an overhaul of the offensive line by signing Collins to a five-year, $30 million deal; signing career backup McCown to be the starting quarterback; and banking on Johnson, tackle Clinton McDonald and cornerback Alterraun Verner, who got a four-year, $26.5 million contract, to bolster the defense.

Collins was benched late in the season, starting just 10 games at left tackle. McCown was sacked 36 times while losing 10 of his 11 starts and throwing more interceptions (14) than touchdown passes (11).

Johnson, who had 11 1-2 sacks for the Bengals three years ago, appeared in 14 games while battling nagging injuries last season, finishing with 27 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles.

The sixth-year pro was due to make $9 million in 2015 and $8.25 million in 2016.



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