Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Free Agent Douglas Fills Need on Line

Marques Douglas has started 78 games over the last five years in San Francisco and Baltimore...After signing with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday, he should challenge for a similar role in Tampa

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DE Marques Douglas has 355 career tackles, along with 19 sacks and 10 passes defensed

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have wanted to improve depth all across the roster this offseason, but they clearly needed to do so at defensive end.

Marques Douglas, a ninth-year lineman who spent the last three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, helps meet that need, and he is versatile enough to play the interior line spots as well. The Buccaneers signed Douglas as an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday; terms of the deal were not disclosed.

After the late-February releases of Kevin Carter and Greg Spires, the Bucs had just two defensive ends on the 2008 roster who had seen action in the NFL last season – 2007 first-round pick Gaines Adams and out-of-nowhere sack specialist Greg White. Adams started eight games in 2007; White two. Earlier in free agency, the team signed another versatile lineman, Jimmy Wilkerson, who had been a reserve in Kansas City.

The 6-2, 292-pound Douglas brings veteran know-how and extensive starting experience to that group. He has been a full-time starter for the last five seasons, beginning with the 2003 campaign in Baltimore. After opening 31 games in 2003-04 with the Ravens and totaling 10 sacks, Douglas signed with the 49ers in 2005 and stepped right into their starting 11. Douglas is viewed as an every-down sort of lineman, adept at rushing the passer and standing up against the run.

Over his three seasons in San Francisco, Douglas started all but one game and recorded 190 tackles, seven sacks and six passes defensed. Overall, in 88 career NFL games, he has racked up 335 tackles, 19 sacks and 10 passes defensed.

Douglas originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with Baltimore in 1999, and it took him several years to become established in the league. He spent most of his rookie campaign on the Ravens' practice squad before ending up with New Orleans in 2000. After seeing action in one game, Douglas hurt his knee and spent the second half of that season on injured reserve.

In 2001, he started out on the Saints' practice squad but was eventually re-signed by Baltimore getting into two games. Douglas' career began to gain ground in 2002 when he won a roster spot and appeared in the first five games, even notching his first start. However, another knee injury put him on injured reserve for the balance of that campaign. By 2003, he was an established starter in Baltimore, as noted above.

Douglas is the second free agent the Buccaneers have signed this week, following the addition of former New England Patriots safety Eugene Wilson. As with Wilson, a deal for Douglas had been reported last week, but his contract was not finalized until Monday. Last week, the Buccaneers signed a trio of playmakers to the offense: running back Warrick Dunn, tight end Ben Troupe and wide receiver Antonio Bryant.

Tampa Bay has actually been one of the busiest teams on the free agent market since it opened two weeks ago. Before the above signings, the team had also inked Wilkerson, center Jeff Faine, tight end John Gilmore and a trio of linebackers in Leon Joe, Matt McCoy and Teddy Lehman. The Bucs also traded for quarterback Brian Griese.

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