View photos of the newest Buccaneer, DE Vinny Curry. Pictures from AP Images.
Early in free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned to the reigning NFL champions to find a much-needed run-stopper for the middle of their defensive line. Now they've gone back to the same source to address another big need on the defensive front: edge rusher.
On Monday, 4 days after landing former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen, the Buccaneers signed Allen's Philly teammate, defensive end Vinny Curry, to a 3-year deal. Allen and Curry were part of an Eagles defensive line that helped lead the way to the franchise's first Super Bowl title with 38 sacks and the league's best run-defense.
While the Bucs targeted Allen early after he became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, they had to wait on Curry, who was released by the Eagles on Friday in an apparent cap-related move that followed Philadelphia's trade for defensive end Michael Bennett.
The Buccaneers also coupled their new D-line addition with a departure from the same group. The team released 10th-year veteran defensive end Robert Ayers on Saturday, and Curry would appear to fill Ayers' spot, in terms of both the defensive line and the salary cap. In addition to Allen and Curry, the Buccaneers have also picked up unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.
A second-round pick in 2012, Curry has been a regular part of the Eagles' defensive line rotation for the last five years, though last season was his first as a starter. He was a highly-productive reserve from 2013-16, racking up 19 sacks and four forced fumbles in that span. In 2017, Curry started all 16 games for the Super Bowl-bound Eagles and contributed 3.0 sacks and 42 tackles. While his final sack total was not gaudy, he did lead the Eagles in quarterback hits, with 18, indicating that he was adept at getting pressure on the passer. In three playoff games, Curry added four more quarterback hits.
Overall, Curry has played in 84 games with 16 starts and amassed 131 tackles, 22.0 sacks, 63 quarterback hits, for forced fumbles and three passes defensed. He has reached double digits in quarterback hits in each of the last four seasons.
Getting more pressure off the edge is a clear goal for the Buccaneers in 2018 after they finished last in the NFL in 2017 with 22 sacks. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy applied plenty of pressure up the middle, ranking among league leaders in quarterback hits and going to his sixth straight Pro Bowl, but no Tampa Bay defensive end had more than 2.5 sacks. Second-year man Noah Spence came into the season with a lot of promise but was lost early to a shoulder injury. The addition of Curry and the potential breakout of Spence should help the Bucs' pass rush in 2018 but it's likely that the team will continue to work on that issue during the offseason.