Once again Lovie Smith has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sifting through free agency to help bolster his 2014 roster. Just yesterday the Bucs announced the signing of 29 year-old Oniel Cousins an offensive lineman most recently with the Cleveland Browns. Tampa also added former Patirots linebacker Dane Fletcher. Both players signed one year deals.
Neither acquisition brings the same appeal as a Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins, or even a Josh McCown. Cousins is a stretch to make the starting five of the offensive line. A third round pick by Baltimore, Cousins has struggled to do much more than play backup for both the Ravens and Browns. An area that Cousins can provide an advantage in is his versatility. The UTEP product has started in 9 games including 4 this past season at right guard (due to starters being injured). Cousins entered the 2008 draft as a tackle.
Experience isn’t lacking for either Cousins or Fletcher and that’s something that Smith and general manager Jason Licht must be looking at. Fletcher is a tweener at 6’2″ 244 pounds. The defensive end/linebacker plays with a high motor totaling 17 tackles and 14 assists this past season to go along with two sacks. Versatility is also on Fletcher’s side. The former Montana State Bobcat will likely be counted on as a special teams player along with a short yardage fullback.
Neither addition will cause much of a stir, but the theme seems to be consistent in the young Smith era. Free agents will be used to fill gaps in the roster when possible.
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