The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced on Friday that they have re-signed free agent linebacker Jonathan Casillas to a one-year contract. Casillas (6-1, 227) joined Tampa Bay in 2013, playing in 12 games, with four starts, recording 24 tackles, two passes defensed and one forced fumble, while adding nine special teams tackles,
Prior to joining the Buccaneers, Casillas spent four season with New Orleans (2009-12), where he was a member of the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV championship team as a rookie. For his career, Casillas has played in 50 games, with 11 starts, totaling 127 tackles, six passes defensed, 3.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble, along with 26 special teams tackles.
Casillas now joins running back Bobby Rainey as two of Tampa Bay’s 20 scheduled free agents this offseason to re-sign before the official start of free agency on Tuesday. The signing of Casillas could signal the end of the Buccaneers career for linebackers Dekoda Watson and Adam Hayward, both unrestricted free agents. Watson started the season at strongside linebacker before giving way to Casillas who played well in his limited action.
The previous regime feared losing Watson to free agency, and despite his limited production at linebacker, a rival team would be intrigued with his athleticism and throw more money his way than the Buccaneers felt he was worth.
While the signing of Casillas may be a sign of things to come, Watson and Hayward could be brought back if they don’t find many suitors in free agency, as both are special teams standouts and fit the bill of what new special teams coordinator Kevin O’Dea is looking for to fill out his unit.
O’Dea spoke to PewterReport.com last month about the type of players he is looking for.
“I want about 15 guys that want to be in that (special teams meeting) room and be on that field,” O’Dea said. “And when you get that working, you have something special. That is what we need. And we don’t need just 11, because those 11 aren’t going to be with us the whole year. We know how it is with injuries and whatever else that comes up. So we need those 15 guys that say, ‘Hey, I want to be on punt team,’ or, ‘Hey, are you cramping because I will take a rep?’ You get it going like that – and we have had that where we were before – then you have something special … then it feeds into the game.
“So if you get that type of mentality, in that room, for whatever phase (of special teams) you are dealing with, you are going to be doing just fine. We have a lot of those guys here right now. We just have to get them pointed in the right direction and we just have to get them to cut it loose all the time, every play.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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