Free agency has brought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers another potential starter on defense.
On Thursday, the Buccaneers announced that they had agreed to terms with veteran linebacker Daryl Smith. Over the course of 12 seasons in Jacksonville and Baltimore, Smith has started 172 of the 174 games in which he has played, including all 48 for the Ravens over the last three years.
Pictures of newly signed linebacker Daryl Smith.
The signing of Smith comes on the heels of three other additions on defense in defensive end Robert Ayers and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Josh Robinson. All three will, at the very least, compete for starting positions on the Buccaneers' defense, and there is an opening on that depth chart for Smith, as well. While Pro Bowler Lavonte David and rookie sensation Kwon Alexander would seem to have the weakside and middle linebacker positions locked down, the Bucs are in need of a new starter on the strongside after releasing Bruce Carter and not re-signing Danny Lansanah.
Originally a second-round pick by Jacksonville out of Georgia Tech in 2004, Smith spent nine seasons with the Jaguars, including his first four under then-defensive coordinator Mike Smith. Wednesday's signing reunites the two Smiths, as the latter is now the Buccaneers' defensive coordinator. Under the direction of Mike Smith, Daryl Smith played in 62 games with 60 starts and combined 292 tackles with 10.5 sacks, three interceptions, 17 passes defensed and three fumble recoveries, including one returned 77 yards for a touchdown.
Overall, Smith has racked up 1,046 tackles in his career, along with 30.5 sacks, 11 interceptions, 70 passes defensed and 15 forced fumbles. He set a career high in sacks just three seasons ago with five, then set a career best in forced fumbles in 2014 with five, as well. Since he entered the league in 2004, Smith has been one of the most productive defenders in the entire league. His tackle total in that span ranks sixth among all players and he joins Karlos Dansby as the only two defenders to top 1,000 tackles and 30 sacks during that time. Only four players in that span of seasons have at least 500 tackles, 25 sacks, 10 interceptions and 10 forced fumbles: Smith, Dansby, Derrick Johnson and Lawrence Timmons.
Smith also has shown the versatility to help the Buccaneers all across their linebacking corps, if needed. In his first three years with the Jaguars he started at left, right and middle linebacker in succeeding seasons. He spent most of the rest of his tenure in Jacksonville playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 front, but after signing with the Ravens in 2013 moved into an inside linebacker spot in a 3-4 base.