Safety Ryan Neal, who factored significantly into last year's All-Pro voting, is headed to Tampa.
On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Neal to a one-year contract, bringing one of the NFL's 2022 breakout players across the country from Seattle. Neal joins a Buccaneers secondary that has already seen safeties Mike Edwards and Keanu Neal depart in free agency, while Logan Ryan remains unsigned. Edwards, Keanu Neal and Ryan combined to make 28 starts at safety for Tampa Bay last season. Ryan Neal joins Antoine Winfield Jr. and Nolan Turner as the only safeties currently on the Buccaneers' roster.
Neal began the offseason as a restricted free agent after the Seahawks extended a qualifying offer on March 14, the day before the start of free agency. However, Seattle withdrew the offer in a salary cap-related move last week, making Neal free to sign with any team.
Neal emerged as a starter and impact player in his fourth season with the Seahawks, opening 10 of the 14 games in which he appeared. He recorded a career-high 66 tackles, adding one sack, four tackles for loss, one interception, eight passes defensed and a forced fumble. His efforts were rewarded with 14 votes for the Associated Press All-Pro team, including three first-team selections. He ranked sixth among all safeties in the All-Pro balloting.
Neal, who played his college ball at Southern Illinois, originally entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2018. He was later waived and then signed by the Falcons in training camp, ending up on Atlanta's practice squad to begin the regular season. After a late-season promotion, he saw action in one game for the Falcons as a rookie before landing on Seattle's practice squad in 2019. He appeared in three games that season after another promotion, then earned a more prominent role over the last three campaigns in Seattle.
In all, Neal has played in 47 games with 19 starts, amassing 160 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, three interceptions, 16 passes defensed and one forced fumble.