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Bucs keeping defense together, re-sign Suh for $8 million

Thu Mar 26 1:10pm ET
By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer

In this Nov. 10, 2019, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) brings down Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) during an NFL football game in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers announced Thursday, March 26, 2020, that the team had re-signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.(AP Photo/Jeff Haynes, File)


In this Dec. 15, 2019, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers nose tackle Ndamukong Suh is shown on the sideline before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit. The Buccaneers announced Thursday, March 26, 2020, that the team had re-signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)


TAMPA, Fla. (AP) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to re-assemble pieces to help Tom Brady be successful with his new team.

Keeping an improved defense together was one of the club's top priorities in free agency. Re-signing tackle Ndamukong Suh to a one-year, $8 million contract on Friday ensures the entire front seven will remain intact for next season.

The move comes on the heels on placing the franchise tag on NFL sacks leader Shaquil Barrett, re-signing linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul to a two-year, $27 million deal, and luring Brady from New England with $50 million guaranteed and the chance to join some dynamic young offensive playmakers.

The Bucs led the NFL in run defense in 2019, with Suh starting all 16 games after helping the Los Angeles Rams reach the Super Bowl the previous season.

''The No. 1 goal for me coming out of last season was to continue to build on defense. The only way to build is to keep everyone in place and grow. It's huge,'' coach Bruce Arians said.

''They'll be so far ahead of our offense, if and when we get back out on the field. I think our offense will catch up pretty fast,'' Arians added. ''We did some really nice things last year and we got better and better, especially those last six weeks of the season.''

Suh, whose streak of 131 consecutive starts is the longest among NFL defensive linemen, had 41 tackles, 14 quarterback hits and 2+ sacks in his first year with the Bucs.

The 33-year-old returned two fumbles for touchdowns, matching the most in a single season since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, rallied from a slow start to go 4-2 down the stretch in 2019, largely because of a stout run defense anchored by Suh and Vita Vea; an improved pass rush featuring Barrett and Pierre-Paul; and a young, inexperienced secondary that steadily got better.

The Bucs limited opponents to just 73.8 yards per game rushing.

''I wanted the entire defense, if we could, to stay together. They played so well together; each piece of the puzzle knew each other,'' Arians said. ''Suh was a big, big part of it obviously - not as much in the sack game as much as his interior pressure and the great job he did against the run.''

The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft has also played for the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins during a career that includes three All-Pro selections. He has 58+ career sacks, along with eight fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, an interception and three defensive TDs.

In addition to placing the franchise tag on Barrett ($15.828 million) and re-signing Pierre-Paul and Suh, Tampa Bay has struck deals the past week to retain three of its other unrestricted free agents: linebacker Kevin Minter, safety Andrew Adams and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

Barrett led the league with 19+ sacks last season. Pierre-Paul had 8+ in 10 games after sitting out the beginning of the year while recovering from a neck injury suffered in an automobile accident.

Player Notes
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Christian McCaffrey Jun 1 1:50pm ET

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Kyler Murray Jun 1 1:30pm ET

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Mitch Trubisky Jun 1 1:20pm ET

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Josh Allen May 31 9:53pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Despite below average accuracy, Newton has been a high-end fantasy quarterback for much of his career because of his rushing stats. Allen may never reach Newton's level, but his running ability can keep him in the QB1 mix.

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George Kittle May 31 7:13pm ET

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Fantasy Spin: Six games is a relatively small sample, but it provides a bit of rationale to those that believe Ridley could be this year's Chris Godwin. The third-year pro finds himself in a wonderful environment to make it happen, as Julio Jones will continue to command the most respect from defensive coordinators and Atlanta's defense may struggle at times yet again. As such, Ridley should be viewed as a high-end WR2 with WR1 upside.

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