- Veteran safety T.J. Ward didn't last long on the open market. On the same day he was released by the Broncos, Ward is now expected to sign with the Buccaneers, NFL Network's James Palmer reported.
The Buccaneers added several tantalizing offensive weapons this offseason, and now they will reportedly acquire a veteran safety to shore up the other side of the ball a week before their regular season kicks off.
Tampa Bay is expected to sign T.J. Ward, NFL Network's James Palmer reported. Ward was released by the Broncos earlier Saturday following three seasons and one Super Bowl win with the team. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport added that the one-year deal is worth up to $5 million.
Ward having a brief stay on the market is hardly a surprise, as The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas ranked him as the best player available after teams reduced their rosters Saturday from 90 to 53. Drafted by the Browns in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, the veteran’s tackling prowess has led to three Pro Bowl appearances over his seven seasons in the league.
Despite turning 30 this past December, Ward showed no signs of slowing down in Denver. He finished with 87 tackles in 2016, which was the second-most on the team. He also tied a career-high with three forced fumbles to go along with a sack and an interception. Ward, however, was due a non-guaranteed $4.5 million in the final year of his contract, which paved the way for his dismissal. He had also battled hamstring issues throughout camp.
Ward was the third safety that Tampa has landed this offseason, joining free-agent acquisition J.J. Wilcox and second-round pick Justin Evans. Wilcox, though, was traded Sunday along with a 2019 seventh-round pick to the Steelers for a 2018 sixth-round pick.
The Bucs allowed 7.7 yards per pass attempt last season, which was tied for the fourth-worst mark in the league. Ward’s hard-hitting capability would help give them an imposing presence over the middle of the field.
Ward’s debut with the Buccaneers would be in a road affair against the Dolphins on Sept. 10.