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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Could Curtis Lofton fit in Tampa Bay?

By Pat Yasinskas

In hindsight, one of the biggest mistakes the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made last season was letting middle linebacker Barrett Ruud depart in free agency.

Now, they might have a shot at getting a better version of Ruud and that could provide a big boost to their defense. At least at the moment, Atlanta middle linebacker Curtis Lofton is scheduled to become a free agent. The Falcons could re-sign him, but there’s speculation he may want a lot of money and the Falcons may not want to pay it because Lofton is not great in pass coverage.

Lofton
There’s also a growing sense Lofton may want out of Atlanta if the money isn’t close to what he wants. He’s a guy with pride and he might be feeling a bit overshadowed by outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who has gotten more media attention because he makes big plays.

When the Bucs let Ruud leave, they handed the job in the middle to rookie Mason Foster. While he did some good things, the new coaching staff is talking about moving Foster to the outside.

That’s where Foster could fit in. He’s only 25, but he’s been the quarterback of Atlanta’s defense for four years and that’s not just a symbolic role. Lofton has a strong personality and is a very strong leader in the locker room.

The Bucs are in desperate need of a leader. Lofton could provide that. He could also provide a big boost to the run defense. Again, the knock in Atlanta is that he doesn’t play the pass very well. There’s some truth in that, but it’s not like Lofton is the worst pass-defending linebacker in the league. In the right situation, with some quick players around him, he could be a decent three-down player.

The Bucs have the cap room to do whatever they would like and Lofton is a guy that could make this team better in several ways.