Add the [intlink id=”68″ type=”category”]Tampa Bay Buccaneers[/intlink] to the San Diego Chargers as a potential landing spot for Green Bay Packers linebacker [intlink id=”139″ type=”category”]Nick Barnett[/intlink].
Much like the Chargers, the Bucs have some uncertainty in the middle of their defense.
Their starting middle linebacker, Barrett Ruud, will be a free agent — the kind that’s been clamoring for a contract extension for some time. Although Tampa Bay may try to keep him, he may feel disrespected enough to sign elsewhere.
The team drafted linebacker Mason Foster in the third round with the idea that they want him to play quickly, but the length of the lockout and lack of traditional offseason programs has hurt his development.
That scenario has ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas wondering if Barnett might be the answer.
The Bucs are in a youth movement and throwing Foster into the mix wouldn’t be totally out of character. But making a third-round pick the quarterback of your defense without an offseason to prepare could be a little dangerous. The Bucs are very young on the defensive line and could have some other changes at linebacker.
That’s why it could make some sense to bring in Barnett or a guy like him. Barnett was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2007 and had some very good seasons with the Packers. He could provide some instant stability and leadership for a Tampa Bay defense that’s still looking to catch up to its offense.
The main question for the Packers is what other teams might be willing to give up for a guy who’s 30, coming off his second season-ending injury in three years and is scheduled to make more than $4 million in 2011.
Those factors could limit potential trade partners.