Buccaneers Analysis: Leon Joe

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Leon Joe earlier this week to a contract. Why did the Buccaneers sign a journeyman linebacker? They could be planning for life without one of their special teams aces. Find out more inside.

Leon Joe's NFL career has been marked, thus far, by its unremarkableness.

In four NFL seasons he's played with three different teams — Chicago (the team that originally drafted him in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft), Arizona and Buffalo. Joe even did some time with the Bucs last season before he was cut on Aug. 28. He re-signed with Chicago, which later cut him. Then Buffalo signed him and he finished out the season with the Bills.

Joe (6-foot-1, 235 pounds) has done little in his NFL career at his position to earn recognition. However, Joe has played in a Super Bowl with Chicago and during his steadiest playing time in 2005-06 emerged as an above-average special teams player.

Joe registered a career-high 20 special teams tackles in 2005, which was second on the Bears. He also had 14 tackles at linebacker. In 2006 Joe finished with 11 special teams tackles as he battled injuries all season.

The tackle numbers on special teams might be part of the lure of signing a player like Joe. He apparently has a nose for the ball carrier on special teams. His 31 special teams tackles in 2005-06 made him third on the Bears.

And that makes you wonder why the Bears didn't keep him in the first place. Joe had only four tackles for Buffalo last year.

It would seem that Joe's biggest value to Tampa Bay will be his special teams work. With Kalvin Pearson, arguably Tampa Bay's best special teams player, having signed an offer sheet with the Detroit Lions that the Bucs likely won't match, Joe could step in and take Pearson's place on special teams.

But that's about all the Bucs will get out of Joe. His history suggests that he'll be nothing more than depth at linebacker and isn't a player you'll want to see if one of the Bucs' valuable starters goes down to injury.

Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.

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