The release of linebacker Josh Bynes earlier this week could result in a return to the Arizona Cardinals by Deone Bucannon
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon was basically a forgotten man in 2018. Former head coach Steve Wilks decided early on in the season that the former first-round draft pick was not a good fit for his 4-3 defensive scheme. One of Arizona’s new assistants, however, could have an entirely different view on the subject.
Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph is returning the Cardinals to the 3-4 alignment that they had a great deal of success with before Wilks’ arrival. It’s a system that Bucannon performed very well in during his first four campaigns with the Redbirds. Could the 26-year old be given another chance to shine with the club’s defense in 2019?
It just so happens that the Cards now have an availability at one of their two inside linebacker spots. In what can be considered a surprise move, veteran Josh Bynes was released this past Wednesday. Third-year player Haason Reddick will assume one of the posts, but a search for another starter is now underway.
Bucannon would certainly qualify as a worthy candidate to replace Bynes. Unfortunately, the former Washington State University product will enter unrestricted free agency next week. And there could be at least two other franchises who could vie for Bucannon’s services as well.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be one of them. Their new defensive coordinator, Todd Bowles, was hired by Bruce Arians to shut down opposing offenses. Those are the same two coaches who were with Arizona when Bucannon was drafted by the organization five years ago.
Another team that could pursue Bucannon is the New York Giants. Their defensive leader, James Bettcher, coached the former college safety for four seasons (2014-17) with the Cardinals. The familiarity that “Buc” has with Bettcher would make the transition to the Giants’ defense an easy one.
Before being underutilized in ’18, Bucannon registered some productive seasons in the desert. The 6’1, 211 pounder tallied 366 tackles during his first four years in the NFL. Bucannon was voted to the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie Team at the conclusion of his first professional campaign in ’14.
The possibility exists that general manager Steve Keim and company could go in a completely new direction for a linebacker. Some free agent possibilities include C.J. Mosley, Brandon Marshall, Kwon Alexander and Preston Brown. Whether or not Bucannon is still a viable option in the eyes of the Cards is a question that will be answered soon enough.