Gina LynnESPN staff writer2 minutes to read
Tampa, Fla. — After a string of salary-cap saving moves last week, the Buccaneers re-signed one of their best free agents in cornerback Jamal Dean, who will remain in Tampa on a four-year, $52 million deal, sources tell ESPN.
Dean’s new contract follows Bucs restructuring contracts for defensive tackle Vita Vea, wide receiver Chris Goodwin, cornerback Carlton Davis III, center Ryan Jensen and receiver Russell Gage agreeing to a pay cut. Left-handed Donovan Smith was released, running back Leonard Fournette and tight end Cameron Pratt. These moves helped the Bucs chip away at $55 million that they were over the cap on.
After three seasons working in the mix for the Buccaneers minor leagues, Dean struggled with first and second round starts in 2022, starting 15 games while finishing with 2 interceptions and 8 pass breakups.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Dean, who turned 26 in October, has allowed 386 yards as a kickoff returner—the fifth-fewest among players with at least 60 touchdowns. He also allowed a completion percentage of 46.6. He finished the season with a broken toe.
Dean has the maximum height and speed to disable throwing windows in area coverage or field matching with vertical concepts. He fits better as an outside third defender in the area scheme, where he can use his back vision to break up the ball.
The Bucs selected Commodore in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft from Auburn. With his frame at 6-foot-1 and 4.30 yards—the second-fastest time in the NFL that year—Dean instantly became one of the Bucks’ most physically gifted members of the defensive backfield, earning the third spot in his rookie season. .
In four NFL seasons, Dean had 7 interceptions and 41 pass break-ups in 57 games with 38 starts. He only missed nine games.
That he has reached this level is all the more impressive considering he suffered an ACL tear in 2013 and a meniscus tear in 2014 while at Ohio State. Then, OSU medical staff didn’t believe his knee would be able to withstand more collegiate play, which led to Dean moving to Auburn, where he was sidelined for the 2016 season after another knee surgery.
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