The Buccaneers will meet with the agent for upcoming free agent safety Chris Conte at the scouting combine this week, according to Scott Reynolds of Pewter Report. Conte will hit free agency on March 9 if no deal is reached.
Conte, who turns 27 years old on Tuesday, joined Tampa Bay last offseason, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5MM that reunited him with former Bears head coach Lovie Smith. Smith, of course, was fired earlier this year and replaced by offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, but as Reynolds notes, Conte still has ties with the Buccaneers staff, as new Tampa secondary coach Jim Hoke coached Conte in Chicago.
In his first season with the Bucs, Conte started 13 games, and played the second-most snaps of any Tampa defensive back. He posted 59 tackles, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles, and graded as the No. 32 safety per Pro Football Focus before suffering a knee injury in Week 15 that ultimately landed him on injured reserve.
Like Conte, many of Tampa Bay’s free agents play on the defensive side of the ball, as corner Sterling Moore, as well as defensive tackles Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel, are also projected to reach free agency. The club’s most high-profile free agent-to-be, however, is running back Doug Martin, who is said to be discussing a new deal with the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said earlier this month that his team was wary of spending big in free agency. So perhaps re-signing a competent player like Conte — who is unlikely to cost all that much — would be one way for the Buccaneers to reduce their need to enter the free agent market.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.