On Monday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed fifth-year linebacker
Hayward’s pact marks the fourth of the Buccaneers’ own unrestricted free agents to return to the team. On Friday, Tampa Bay re-signed linebacker
To make room for Hayward on the 90-man training camp roster, the Buccaneers released rookie running back
Hayward has been one of the Buccaneers’ best special teams player since he was drafted out of Portland State in the sixth round in 2007, and last year he also emerged as a valuable asset on defense. As evidenced by Friday’s signing of punter and kickoff specialist
In four seasons with the Buccaneers, Hayward has racked up 58 kick-coverage stops, almost exactly one per contest during his 59-game NFL career. Last year, he was the team leader in that category with 20, and the season before he ranked third with 15. His teammates elected him as their Special Teams Captain in 2010, and his coverage skills helped the Bucs rank seventh in the NFL in opponent punt return average and eighth in opponent kickoff return average.
Two injuries to starting strongside linebacker Quincy Black, including one that landed him on injured reserve for the final three games of the season, caused the Buccaneers to turn to Hayward and rookie
Overall, Hayward has played in 59 games and recorded 45 tackles on defense, plus one sack and three passes defensed. In addition to his 58 stops on special teams, he has also recovered one fumbled kickoff and returned one kickoff for eight yards.
Jackson joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent on Thursday. He rushed for 2,700 yards in four seasons at the University of Idaho.