ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals FA LB Deone Bucannon wants a team that sees his value

Jan 10, 2019, 5:03 PM | Updated: 5:36 pm
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon (20) reacts after dropping Dallas Cowboys quarterback C...
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Deone Bucannon (20) reacts after dropping Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush (7) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

The Arizona Cardinals and free agent linebacker Deone Bucannon are in a funky spot.

Bucannon is coming off a 2018 season in which he played more than 50 percent of snaps in only five of the team’s 16 games. That also includes 10 snaps or under in five other games while struggling to pick up former head coach Steve Wilks’ 4-2-5 defense.

The 26-year-old was an impact player in 2015 after being selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, recording a team-high 112 total tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. He then, however, worked through injuries the following two seasons and then got lost in Wilks’ rotations.

“It’s tough not being able to be out there, do the things I can be able to do,” Bucannon told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Thursday.

“Honestly, I didn’t even get a true explanation,” the linebacker said of his lack of playing time.

When the Cardinals introduced Kliff Kingsbury as their new head coach, general manager Steve Keim said the team is interested in a veteran defensive coordinator and moving back to a 3-4 defense.

That would benefit Bucannon and the Cardinals’ roster as a whole, as Cardinals president Michael Bidwill told 98.7 FM’s Burns & Gambo on Wednesday.

“I know that we want to get him back on the field,” Bidwill said of Bucannon. “Going back to the 3-4, there’s no question that those players … we are built to be a 3-4 team not a 4-3 team.”

Bucannon didn’t want to completely shoot down his ability to play the 4-3 but the situation didn’t allow him to the chance to show it.

“I didn’t feel like I got an opportunity to show that I was able to,” Bucannon said. “We were changing my position every other week and it was just kind of thrown off because they expected things to kind of fall into place.”

Bidwill said he, along with the fan base, was being puzzled by the lack of playing time for Bucannon and former first-round pick Haason Reddick.

“There were several players that — including Deone and Hasson Reddick — were not even dressed for some games which made no sense,” Bidwill said.

Bucannon has a good relationship with Bidwill and spoke highly of him.

“He’s always been a guy that had my back and he’s always been a great guy, great person, too,” he said.

With that in mind, what it comes down to for Bucannon is finding the right fit in free agency that knows how to utilize a versatile defender like himself.

“I want to play for a team that sees me for my value, understands what I can do on the field and understands what kind of player I am,” he said.

Bucannon didn’t shoot down returning to the Cardinals, saying he loves the team and being in the Valley, but wants to land in an ideal situation where he doesn’t face the same roadblocks as last season.

“I’m looking forward to the future,” he said. “I’m hoping there’s a team that gives me an opportunity, whether it be Arizona or somebody else, I just want an opportunity to go out there and perform for my team.”

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