Former Bronco Patrick Chukwurah had a career-high 4.5 sacks in 2006
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made their first foray into the 2007 free agent market, signing former Denver linebacker Patrick Chukwurah. As is team policy, terms of the contract were not released.
The Buccaneers will have additional significant news on the free agency front on Saturday. The team has scheduled a 1:00 p.m. ET press conference to announce the news.
While cornerback Phillip Buchanon was inked early on Friday, the opening day of the new league year, Chukwurah is the first player from another team to jump to the Buccaneers. He could boost Tampa Bay's pass rush and provide help on special teams.
The 6-1, 250-pound Chukwurah is listed as a linebacker but has also played defensive end for the Broncos, as they made use of his quick burst off the edge of the line. The Bucs may envision using him most extensively in that sort of role.
Tampa Bay's new defensive line coach, Larry Coyer, is certainly familiar with Chukwurah's pass-rushing skills, as Coyer spent the last four seasons as Denver's defensive coordinator. Last year, Chukwurah more than doubled his career sack total by recording 4.5 QB takedowns in 14 games as a situational pass-rusher. Chukwurah also contributed a career-best 25 tackles plus one forced fumble and one pass defensed.
The former Wyoming star first entered the league as a fifth-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings, selected 157th overall. He played two seasons in Minnesota, seeing action at both strongside linebacker and defensive end. His strong rookie season included 16 games played, three starts (two at linebacker, one at end), 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Following the 2003 season, Chukwurah was waived in late February and immediately plucked off waivers by the Broncos. Though he didn't play for Denver in '03, he was re-signed prior to the 2004 season and went on to play 14 games in each of the next two seasons, much of it on special teams.
In all, Chukwurah has played in 69 games and started five, amassing 69 tackles, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and three passes defensed.
Chukwurah started for three seasons at Wyoming and racked up 245 tackles and 27 sacks. He was a team captain and first-team all-conference choice as a senior. Chukwurah was born in Nigeria but played his high school football in Irving, Texas.