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The T.J. Ward signing addresses one of Tampa Bay’s biggest weaknesses

The question is whether Ward can be the player he once was.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no angle you can approach the T.J. Ward signing where it doesn’t make sense for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their previous starting duo of Chris Conte and Keith Tandy was among the worst in the NFL, objectively, and a bit potential weakness on an otherwise improving defense.

That’s why I was plenty disgruntled this morning to wake up and realize the Buccaneers had managed to land Ward, who has made the Pro Bowl three times and remains a rock solid tackler and savvy playmaker. The NFC South promises to be interesting with improved Buccaneers and Panthers teams to deal with, even if I think the Falcons stand atop the pile.

But how much good does Ward really do Tampa Bay? That probably depends on his health. As good as he is, Ward has played only 26 of a possible 32 games over the last two years, and has dealt with small, nagging ailments along the way. If he’s not 100%, the Bucs will have to deal with that, not that $5 million is that much to pay for a terrific safety. Plus, Mike Smith loves veterans!

When healthy, though, Ward is at least a capable strong safety who will give the Bucs a better shot at winning every week. I could be happier with that.