DE Lamar King had a career-high six sacks for Seattle in 2000
Secondary, linebacker and now defensive line…the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' second swing through free agency has solidified each level of the team's defense.
On Thursday, the Bucs announced the signing of sixth-year defensive end Lamar King, a one-time first-round draft pick who has played five solid seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. Terms of King's contract were not disclosed by the team.
Before the King signing, the Bucs had already reached their offseason roster limit (80 signed players, plus NFLEL exemptions). Thus, to make room for King on the roster, Tampa Bay also released third-year defensive tackle Delbert Cowsette on Thursday. Cowsette, who played two seasons for the Washington Redskins, originally signed with the Buccaneers on January 14, 2004.
In March, the Buccaneers made a splash during the first month of free agency by signing or trading for approximately 15 players. Most of those newcomers – Charlie Garner, Joey Galloway, Todd Steussie, Derrick Deese, Brian Griese, et al – were brought in to add life to the Bucs' offense. One couldn't have blamed Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin for feeling like the forgotten son.
Well, April and May have been Kiffin's turn. On April 9, the team signed former Dallas cornerback Mario Edwards, a three-year starter who was surprisingly still available in free agency. The Bucs have an outstanding pair of starting cornerbacks in Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly but were hurt in 2003 when Kelly went down with a chest injury. Tampa Bay's depth at the position and its prospective nickel packages now look very strong.
On April 28, days after the NFL Draft, the Bucs picked up perhaps the most accomplished defensive player still on the market, linebacker Ian Gold. Gold, who excelled in a strong linebacking corps in Denver, has the speed to match the likes of Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles, making him a wonderful fit for the Bucs' defense.
Now, the defensive line gets King, another proven starter with extensive experience.
King missed the first seven games of 2003 due to a knee ailment but returned to play the final 10 for Seattle, including one postseason contest. He finished the year with 16 tackles, three sacks and one pass defensed. Prior to last season, King had started the last 34 games in which he had played.
King's five-year totals in Seattle included 57 games, 37 starts, 125 tackles, 12 sacks, 10 passes defensed and one fumble recovery.
The 1998 Division II Defensive Player of the Year at Saginaw Valley State, King was the 22nd pick overall in 1999. He had two sacks as a reserve in 1999 but earned a starting spot at left end the next season and produced his top overall campaign. In 2000, played in and started 14 games, recording 48 tackles, six sacks and three passes defensed.
The Bucs now have five former first-round picks among their 14 rostered defensive linemen – King, Simeon Rice, Anthony McFarland, Darrell Russell and Reinard Wilson.
Tampa Bay's roster as of May 13 includes 44 players who were not associated with the Buccaneers in any way in 2003 (active roster, practice squad injured reserve or training camp). Approximately 20 of those players are veterans who played for another NFL team in 2003, such as King, Gold and Edwards.