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Monday, Dec 05, 2016
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Could DE Mario Williams be a good fit for Bucs?

TAMPA — The cuts are coming fast and furious around the NFL. One that should have opened the eyes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the decision by the Buffalo Bills to cut defensive end Mario Williams.

Williams has long been one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, and he could prove to be a good fit in Tampa, where the Bucs are in dire need of a dominant edge rusher.

The Bucs’ greatest concern would stem from the dramatic drop in production Williams experienced last year, when he recorded just five sacks after averaging 12 per year the previous three seasons.

There is, however, a logical explanation for that dropoff, and along with it a belief that it could be corrected should Williams sign with a team like the Bucs.

Williams has made no secret of the displeasure he experienced while trying to fit in and play the defensive scheme that was employed by new Bills coach Rex Ryan last year.

It was a scheme, Williams said, that forced him to drop into coverage far more than he’s accustomed to and therefore didn’t always play to his strength, which is going after the passer.

Should Williams return to a team that allows him to do what he does best, there’s a chance that even at age 31 he could go back to being the double-digit sack monster he has been in years past.

Are the Bucs such a team? It’s too soon to know, really. Other than saying it will be multifaceted, few details of the scheme new defensive coordinator Mike Smith is implementing have been released.

There’s a good chance, though, that considering the Bucs needs, Williams would be a good fit. If so, the Bucs just might be interested in taking a flyer on a player who could dramatically upgrade their pass rush.

It’s unlikely the Bucs would want to sign Williams to a long-term contract but if they could get him on a one- or two-year “prove it’’ type deal, they could come out big winners in the end.

 

rcummings@tampatrib.com

Twitter: @RCummingsTBO