New Buccaneer linebacker Cato June was the leading tackler for the NFL champions last year
In a move that unquestionably strengthened their defense, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Cato June, the leading tackler this past season for the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.
As is team policy, terms of the deal, including its length, were not disclosed by the Buccaneers.
The acquisition of June comes just one day after he visited the Buccaneers as one of three defensive standouts to meet with Tampa Bay Friday. He joins a Buccaneers linebacker corps that was already quite talented; June, Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles have all won Pro Bowl honors.
June, who became an unrestricted free agent this month, has been a starter the past three seasons in Indianapolis and earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2005 when he tallied 109 tackles and five interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. That same year he was also named to the Associated Press NFL All-Pro Second Team and the Pro Football Weekly/Professional Football Writers of America All-NFL Team.
A converted college safety, June was drafted in the sixth round (198th overall) of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Colts, and quickly became a lynchpin at the linebacker position in the Colts' Cover Two-oriented defense. In 2004 – June's first year as a starter – he led his team in tackles, posting 128 stops. Pro Bowl honors followed the season after, and last year June's 162 tackles were again a team-high.
Only 27 years of age, the 6-0, 227-pound June is considered one of the up-and-coming linebackers in the league and is widely viewed as an excellent fit for the defensive scheme employed by the Buccaneers because of his coverage and pursuit skills.
To date, June has played in 56 games, starting 45 of them, including all 16 last season for Indianapolis. In addition to his 162 tackles, the athletic June recorded one sack and three interceptions. And in the Colts' Super Bowl victory over the Chicago Bears, June registered five tackles and two assists.
At the University of Michigan, June started 26 of 36 games, posting 138 tackles, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three interceptions. He also received All-Big Ten honorable mention as a senior for the Wolverines.