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Former Buccaneers CB Ryan Smith Signs with Chargers

A key member of Tampa Bay's special teams has signed elsewhere.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been able to hold onto just able all of their top free agents this offseason, but have left a few depth pieces get away thus far. 

On Tuesday, backup cornerback and special teamer Ryan Smith signed with the Los Angeles Chargers on a one-year, $1.75 million deal, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

Smith ranked second on the team in special teams snaps during their 2020 Super Bowl run, tallying four tackles according to Pro Football Focus. He only took the field for three defensive snaps, however. 

The North Carolina Central product is the final member of Tampa Bay's 2016 NFL Draft to depart from the roster, notably outlasting the likes of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, defensive end Noah Spence, and kicker Roberto Aguayo.

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Although Smith wasn't on the field all too often defensively for the Buccaneers, cornerback depth will need to be addressed before training camp begins this summer. Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting return as starters, but only Herb Miller remains as a depth piece currently.

Ross Cockrell remains a free agent after signing to the Buccaneers practice squad earlier in the 2020 season. The seven-year veteran was promoted to the active roster midseason and appeared in every regular-season game from the Carolina matchup on, tallying 11 tackles and a pass breakup. 

It wouldn't be surprising to see Cockrell eventually return to the Buccaneers, and from there, the Bucs could invest a draft pick in a young cornerback of their choice. Ideally, that prospect would provide special teams ability in order to best replace Smith.