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Another Familiar Face: Bucs Sign Free Agent LB Joe

The Bucs got only a quick look at linebacker Leon Joe last year but obviously liked what they saw; on Sunday, the former Bear became Tampa Bay's latest unrestricted free agent signing


Though he was with the Bucs for less than a week last fall, Joe did appear in one preseason game in Tampa

Leon Joe got a brief cameo with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers six months ago. Now he'll get a full offseason to make his mark.

On Tuesday, the Buccaneers announced that they have signed Joe, a fifth-year linebacker most recently of the Buffalo Bills. Joe became an unrestricted free agent on February 29th; terms of his deal with the Buccaneers were not disclosed.

Joe saw time with the three teams in 2007, though his stint with the Buccaneers lasted less than a week. After being waived by the Chicago Bears near the end of the preseason, he was claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay on August 28. He was later released in Tampa Bay's final cut-down to 53 players, and was subsequently signed by the Bills. Over two separate stints in Buffalo last fall, Joe appeared in eight games and collected 10 special teams tackles plus one stop on defense.

The Buccaneers originally jumped on Joe after the Bears let him go in large part due to his prowess on special teams. In three seasons in Chicago (2004-06), the 6-1, 235-pound linebacker appeared in 27 games, and over the 2005-06 campaigns he racked up 31 kick-coverage stops, third-best on the team over that span. Joe also saw a significant amount of action on defense in 2005, appearing in 14 games with one start and contributing 18 tackles. During his brief stay with the Buccaneers last August, he was listed as a middle linebacker.

Joe did play in one preseason game with the Buccaneers, the preseason finale against Houston on August 30. He appeared primarily on special teams.

Joe originally entered the league as a fourth-round selection of Chicago in the 2004 NFL Draft. He actually finished his rookie season with the Arizona Cardinals but then returned to the Bears in 2005.

A three-year starter at Maryland, Joe racked up 322 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions during his collegiate career. He hails from Fort Washington, Maryland.

Joe is the second former Bear to land with the Buccaneers in as many days. On Monday, the Bucs traded for his former teammate and another player with previous Buccaneer experience, quarterback Brian Griese.

In addition, since the free agency period began last Friday, the Buccaneers have signed center Jeff Faine, tight end John Gilmore (another former Bear) and defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson. The team also re-signed one of its own free agents, linebacker Antoine Cash.

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