DT Darrell Russell was elected to the AFC Pro Bowl squad following the 1998 and 1999 seasons
In like a lion, out like a … lion?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ending March the same way they began it, busily working the free agency aisles. On Tuesday, the Bucs made the 20th addition to their roster in the month of March, signing free agent defensive tackle Darrell Russell. Terms of the contract were not disclosed by the team.
A deal between the Bucs and Russell had been expected for some time, and Russell passed his physical on Monday. A veteran of six NFL seasons and a two-time Pro Bowler, he will be joining his third team after spending five seasons in Oakland (1997-2001) and half of last year with the Washington Redskins.
Russell will also be reunited with two of his former coaches. Four of his five years in Oakland were played under then-Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden (1998-2001), including both of his Pro Bowl campaigns. In addition, Russell will once again work closely with Rod Marinelli, the Bucs' defensive line coach and Russell's position coach during his sophomore season at USC in 1995.
Russell played only sparingly for the Redskins last year after joining the team on October 30, recording four tackles and one forced fumble in eight games, but he was a starter for most of five seasons with the Raiders. His career totals in 72 games and 58 starts include 227 tackles, 28.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and 22 passes defensed.
At 6-5 and 325 pounds, Russell can be a massive run-stopping force in the middle, and he is also a proven pass-rusher. In 1998-99, his second and third years in the NFL, Russell had 10 and 9.5 sacks, respectively, and made the Pro Bowl each year. In '98, his 10 QB takedowns were the most by any defensive tackle in the AFC and he was voted into the all-star game as a starter.
Russell, 27, originally entered the league as the second overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft, foregoing his senior season at USC. Under Marinelli, he was the only PAC-10 sophomore to earn first-team all-conference honors, and he won a spot on the team as a junior, as well, after recording nine sacks for the Trojans. Born in Pensacola, Florida, Russell played his high school ball in San Diego.
Bucs Add Fullback
The Buccaneers have also signed fullback Deon Dyer, formerly of the Miami Dolphins.
The 5-11, 255-pound Dyer is a prototypical lead-blocker. He played in 45 games over three seasons with the Dolphins with one start, serving almost exclusively as a blocking back and special-teamer. Dyer caught two passes for 14 yards as a rookie in 2000 but otherwise has not recorded any offensive stats.
Miami drafted Dyer in the fourth round in 2000 and he served in a backup role to starting fullback Rob Konrad. Dyer's most extensive action came in two games during the following season, versus New England (Oct. 7) and Buffalo (January 6). The Dolphins rushed for 209 and 202 yards, respectively, in those two games, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt. Dyer also started the playoff game against Baltimore the week after the Bills game.
Dyer was a four-year letterman at North Carolina, and a starter for three seasons. He finished his collegiate career with 639 yards and nine touchdowns on 186 rushing attempts, plus 20 receptions for 183 yards and two more scores. He hails from Chesapeake, Virginia.