Head coach Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Mike Smith and linebackers coach Mark Duffner all wanted Daryl Smith, 34, who spent the past three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.
"Daryl Smith is a guy I wanted to bring in," Koetter said last week at the NFL's owners meetings. "Mike wanted to bring him in. Duff wanted to bring him in. Just look at Daryl Smith's stats over his career, and other than that one year when he missed [most of the year] in Jacksonville, his play time and his production is incredible."
Koetter, Mike Smith and Duffner should know. Koetter and Mike Smith were coordinators in Jacksonville during parts of Daryl Smith's time with the Jaguars. Duffner was his position coach for seven years with the Jaguars.
The Ravens signed Daryl Smith in 2013 to be the replacement for Ray Lewis. Smith started every game and recorded at least 121 tackles in each of the past three seasons, though he ended up splitting playing time at the end of 2015.
Before that, Smith spent nine seasons in Jacksonville. He missed only four games through his first eight seasons but missed 14 with a groin injury in 2012. He wasn't retained by GM Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley.
Other than the 2012 season, Daryl Smith has been one of the most dependable and consistent linebackers in the NFL. In addition to being a tackling machine, he has 11 interceptions and 69 pass breakups in his career.
Smith isn't going to be the Bucs' starting middle linebacker, a spot that's manned by second-year player Kwon Alexander. Smith can be used as a strongside linebacker on first and second downs, but Koetter is hoping he'll be even more valuable in the locker room.
He will be, said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
"Gosh, you guys got a great one," Harbaugh said during the owners meetings. "He's going to come to work every day. He's going to show your young players how to work, how to play. He knows the game inside and out. He's going to be physical. He's going to be in the right gap. He's going to know coverage. He's going to know the game plan. He's going to work with the young guys on and off the field. Just a fabulous, tremendous human being. He's still got a couple years left. "
Alexander missed the final four games of his rookie season after violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy. He had already become one of the better young linebackers in the NFL by that point, with 93 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles. He has a bright future and can only benefit from playing alongside Smith.