NFL News: Ex-49ers $70 Million Pass Rusher Joins Buccaneers - Sport News

NFL News: Ex-49ers $70 Million Pass Rusher Joins Buccaneers

After a short-lived stint with the San Francisco 49ers, linebacker Randy Gregory will join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Gregory “agreed to terms” with the Buccaneers on Wednesday according to the team. He joined the 49ers in the middle of the 2023 season after a trade with the Denver Broncos in exchange for a pair of third-day draft picks.

Denver unloaded him midseaon amid his five-year, $70 million contract. The 49ers didn’t take a major hit with his acquisition — just an $840,000 cap hit for 2023.

Gregory tallied 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles in five regular season games with the 49ers. He played in all three playoff games — including the Super Bowl — and garnered three tackles in the process.

Randy Gregory Pulled Things Together After Rocky Start

Gregory’s career began with the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 as a second round draft pick from Nebraska, where had been an All-American and All-Big 10. His NFL career didn’t take off, however, due to repeated suspensions over substance abuse in his first three seasons.

Things turned the corner for a year in 2018 when he posted six sacks, two forced fumbles, and 25 tackles in 14 games with the Cowboys. Unfortunately, he landed another substance abuse policy suspension in February 2019 and missed the following season.

Gregory bounced back in 2020 with 3.5 sacks, 21 tackles, and three forced fumbles for the Cowboys in 2020. He followed that up with six sacks, 19 tackles, and three forced fumbles in 2021.

Denver signed Gregory as a free agent in 2022 with that $70 million, but the Broncos missed out in the first year as went down with a knee injury. While Gregory started off the 2023 season productive, younger Broncos players Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper also had strong starts to the season.

“This was something we made and decided. And look, ultimately you always spend a lot of time on decisions like this. So, like I said, we felt like it was best for our team,” Broncos head coach Sean Payton told reporters in October 2023 via DenverSports.com.

Randy Gregory Was 49ers’ Gain for a Time

For the 49ers, general manager John Lynch considered it his team’s gain. A former safety and Hall of Famer, Lynch understand well the value of defensive depth.

“We want an embarrassment of riches up front,” Lynch told reporters in October 2023 via 49erswebzone.com. “That’s the way we’re driven. It used to be I feel like when I played, you could have Warren Sapp. And if you had one dominant player and then man, it sure would be nice to get a Simeon Rice, which we did in our Super Bowl year. And you had good players to compliment, but you didn’t have eight deep.”

Gregory debuted in Week 6 for the 49ers, and he had a sack and three tackles. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan liked what he saw.

“I thought it was a positive one just getting out there. He has been in our scheme for two and a half practices up to that moment,” Shanahan told reporters in October 2023 via 49erswebzone.com. “To be able to get in there and make some plays, get in the sack and the TFL. I loved his length out there. I love what we saw. I think the more he gets with us, the more he practices, the more he understands our scheme, the better he’ll get.”

While Gregory had more productive games with the 49ers, his asking price in free agency would have been a lot. The Niners have $6.77 million in salary cap space this year.

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