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Pro Football Focus: Cardinals FA Bucannon a ‘buyer beware’ free agent

(AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

It is safe to say that 2018 was a bit of a struggle for Arizona Cardinals free agent linebacker Deone Bucannon.

It was enough of a struggle for Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle to include Bucannon in his top “buyer beware” free agents for the 2019 offseason.

Arizona Cardinals’ Deone Bucannon had a career year playing his hybrid linebacker/safety role in 2015, giving reason to believe the former Washington State first-rounder could be a difference-maker in the NFL for years to come. That simply hasn’t been the case.

Bucannon has failed to come close to his career-high 72.6 overall grade in 2015 in the three seasons following, earning extremely low run-defense and coverage grades in the process. He’s a former first-rounder with a lot of natural ability, but paying him the big bucks in the offseason could prove costly.

After becoming a key piece in the Cardinals’ defense over the past few years, Bucannon became lost in former head coach Steve Wilks’ rotations and schemes.

After playing most of his career in a 3-4 defense, the 26-year-old never could fully pick up Wilks’ 4-2-5 defense.

“I didn’t feel like I got an opportunity to show that I was able to,” Bucannon told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Burns & Gambo on Jan. 10. “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.”

Bucannon was drafted by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and had a break out 2015. In his five seasons with the Cardinals, Bucannon recorded 404 tackles, seven sacks, seven forced fumbles and two interceptions.

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