Originally posted on The Stowaway  |  Last updated 6/5/12
Two years ago the Buccaneers went 10-6.  The leading tacklers on the squad were Barrett Ruud (85 tackles, 33 assists) and Geno Hayes (72 tackles, 10 assists).

After the 2010 season, Ruud entered free agency and left Tampa Bay for the Titans.

After the 2011 season, Hayes entered free agency and has left Tampa Bay for the Bears.

Since the retirement of Derrick Brooks in after the 2008 season, Hayes and Ruud were #1 and #2 in tackles until Ruud departed.  That's a great deal of production out the door in just two seasons.  However, the timing may have been exactly right.

Ruud signed a one year deal with the Tennessee Titans but only played in 9 games before going on injured reserve.  He entered free agency again this offseason and was not resigned.  Apparently, the Titans fans also were not extremely impressed with his play.  Ruud has now signed a one year pact with the Seattle Seahawks.   It appears the Buccaneers may have released him for good reason and at an appropriate time.

After starting all 16 games in 2010, Hayes was benched in Week 9 of the 2011 season for three games, making the 2011 season his least productive since his rookie year of 2008.  The statistics show a sharp drop-off in performance:  appearing in 16 games in 2011, Hayes recorded 45 tackles and 19 assists compared to 72 tackles and 10 assists in 2010 (also 16 games) and 80 tackles and 18 assists in 2011 (his best season and only 15 games).  The Bears have given Hayes a one-year contract.

Training camp will open this year with many young faces in the linebacking corps.  To replace the productivity above, the Buccaneers have spent three draft picks in two years on linebackers:  Mason Foster in 2011 and Najee Goode and Lavonte David in 2012.

Foster was extremely production last season, finishing the season with 58 tackles and 28 assists, leading all NFL rookie linebackers last season.  The third rounder (#84 overall) was the third most productive tackler on the Tampa Bay squad last season behind veterans S Sean Jones and CB Ronde Barber.  Foster, an extremely productive player in college, has shown flashes of being the type of player you can build around.  Clearly, Foster will be on the field for the opening snap of the 2012 NFL season.

Goode and David, drafted with the second and third picks by the Buccaneers this past April, will have to climb past three veterans to reach the starting lineup.  Dekoda Watson, Quincy Black, and Adam Hayward all appeared in at least 14 games last season (Watson and Hayward had two starts; Black had 12).  These players will have experience on their side when camp opens.

And there will be three new faces:  Rennie Curran was a midseason waiver wire pickup last season, Jacob Cutrera was signed last October and finished the season on IR, and Antonio Leak is a 2012 undrafted college free agent from Henderson State (Arkansas, Div II).

Linebacker could be the make-or-break position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012.  They have a lot of experience and productivity to replace.  They have a lot of draft picks invested. They play an even front scheme, which means linebackers have to make tackles while the linemen up front take up gaps.

And they need some young players to grow up quickly.



GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ohio State sets NFL Draft record; rundown of where every player ended up

Timeless Tim: NBA star says Spurs' Duncan could play until he's 90

NFL analyst Mel Kiper Jr's secret to longevity: Pumpkin pie

Carmelo Anthony not sure if he’ll play in 2016 Rio Olympics

Report: Ravens would have taken Tunsil if not for video

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Steve Kerr won’t rule out early Stephen Curry return

WATCH: Jaylon Smith finding out he's headed to the Cowboys

Bills take OSU QB Cardale Jones Saturday, ups Buckeyes count to 12

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush epically fails trying to call out Dwyane Wade

DeMarcus Cousins says his feet bother him more every year

Winners and losers: Day Two of the NFL Draft

WATCH: Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright gets drafted, loses mind

Manny Pacquiao is "alarmed" by terrorist kidnapping plot in Philippines

Luke Walton is playing by his own rules as Lakers new head coach

Paul Pierce says he’s ’50-50′ on retirement

Luke Walton: Lakers will not run the triangle offense

Dolphins think they know who dimed out Laremy Tunsil, says reports

NFL commish Goodell says "bring it on" to Draft boo birds in Chicago

Snapchat, BuzzFeed team up to deliver video highlights of Summer Games on social

A Trail of wise decisions led the Blazers past the Clippers

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

WATCH: Clippers guard Rivers returns to game after 11 stitches to eye

Ten biggest surprises from Day 2 of 2016 NFL Draft

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Okay, who stole the Kansas City Royals player off that billboard?

Eight players to watch in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

A Round-By-Round Look At the NFL Draft

10 biggest takeaways from the NBA playoffs thus far

QUIZ: Name every No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft since 1985

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Sharks vs. Predators

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Blues vs. Stars

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Capitals vs. Penguins

10 bold predictions for the first round of the NFL Draft

NHL postseason Round 2 quick hits: Lightning vs. Islanders

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker