Arguably the best defensive end left on the free-agent market is officially off the board.
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Former first-round pick Robert Ayers has agreed to a three-year, $21 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport on Friday. Under the terms of the contract, Ayers will make $10.5 million in guarantees. The team later confirmed the deal.
Ayers, 30, is the latest notable signing for the Buccaneers since free agency started Wednesday. The team agreed to terms with ex-Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes on Friday two days after signing offensive guard J.R. Sweezy and bringing back star running back Doug Martin.
Ayers, who was ranked No. 32 in Around The NFL's top 99 free agents, figures to bolster the Bucs' pass-rushing effort following a solid but overlooked campaign with the New York Giants' struggling defense last season. In two seasons with the Giants, Ayers recorded 14.5 sacks and 49 tackles. An early-season ankle injury limited him to 12 games last season, but that didn't stop him from posting career highs in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (11). Prior to joining the Giants, Ayers played five seasons with the Denver Broncos.
It remains to be seen if Buccaners general manager Jason Licht will continue to poach high-end names from the free-agent market in an effort to help Tampa Bay return to the playoffs under new head coach Dirk Koetter in 2016.