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Linebacker Randy Gregory already feels a certain comfort with Bucs

New Buc Randy Gregory already knew outside linebackers coach George Edwards from their days in Dallas together. [ SCOT TUCKER | AP ]

Original Article By: Kristie Ackert Times staff

Published April 4|Updated April 4

TAMPA — For Randy Gregory and the Bucs, it was a comfortable fit.

The veteran edge rusher was well-acquainted with outside linebackers coach George Edwards and knew head coach Todd Bowles well enough to understand where he would fit into their defense. For Tampa Bay, signing the free-agent Gregory to a one-year deal bulks up a group of young linebackers and gives them some depth.

“At the end of the day, I want to go somewhere I’m comfortable with, somewhere I know I can play and help ...,” Gregory said during a Thursday afternoon Zoom call. “I think there’s going to be a lot of opportunities for me and others to make plays in the passing game, the run game, and things like that and make a good run.”

Gregory spoke with reporters after the Bucs made the one-year deal, reportedly worth up to $5 million with incentives, official. According to reports, the deal has a guaranteed base amount of $2.49 million and $510,000 in per-game active roster bonuses.

Gregory said that he felt he connected with Bowles, the Jets head coach at the time, when they met in preparation for the draft in 2015. He worked well with Edwards when they were both with the Cowboys.

“I actually spoke with (Bowles), I remember, coming out of college during the draft and speaking with him a bunch,” Gregory said. “I loved his personality, loved his down-to-earth demeanor. (He is a) no-nonsense type of guy. I think I always thrive well when I work with coaches like that.”

Llinebacker Randy Gregory, then with the 49ers, hits Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the first half of Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas. [ ASHLEY LANDIS | AP ]

Gregory is familiar with Bowles’ defensive schemes and feels his versatility will fit in perfectly.

“I can play inside, outside, on third down and things like that — stand up, put my hand down in the dirt,” he said. “To be able to play kind of in a 3-4, 4-3 scheme, do a couple of different things there — drop in coverage. This is all stuff I’ve done in Dallas and Denver and in San Francisco.

“For me, it was a (really) good spot to land in.”

Though confident in his ability to contribute in this defense, Gregory knows the situation he is coming into.

Rookie outside linebacker Yaya Diaby, who led the Bucs in sacks last season, is expected to start in one outside linebacker spot. The Bucs have Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and Anthony Nelson to compete with Gregory for another spot. They also have Markees Watts and Jose Ramirez vying for time there. And the draft is still later this month.

Gregory said he doesn’t come in expecting to start.

“I expect to help and I expect to influence the team how I know I can and make plays the way I know I can,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s really what you make it. I expect to come in here and keep my head down. ... I know Coach Bowles, I know what he expects; I know what Coach Edwards expects.”

Now 31, Gregory has appeared in 72 career regular-season games with the Cowboys, Broncos and 49ers, recording 117 tackles, 69 quarterback hits, 22 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception.

Last season, Gregory was dealt from Denver to San Francisco. He had eight quarterback hits, four tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks in 12 games with the 49ers; during their run to the Super Bowl, Gregory had five combined tackles, one for loss.

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