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Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign free-agent S Goldson to 5-year deal

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Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 01:29 PM
TAMPA -

Free-agent safety Dashon Goldson signed a five-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team announced Wednesday.

Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowler, arrived in Tampa late Tuesday to meet with the Bucs after the team sent a private jet to California to pick him up.

A starter for the San Francisco 49ers team that reached the Super Bowl last season, Goldson spent early Wednesday meeting with Bucs officials and getting a feel for the team’s direction.

The deal was negotiated Wednesday afternoon and announced just before a 4 p.m. news conference with Goldson, general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano at One Buc Place.

“I did some research, sitting down with my agent trying to figure out what was the correct fit for my style of play and my mindset, and Tampa came on my radar,’’ Goldson said. “I was able to see a couple of their games and their style of play and I think I will fit well in their scheme.

“I think it’s a good opportunity and this team is definitely on the (rise). I like to consider myself a seasoned vet and I believe I can bring a lot to this team in terms of leadership and my presence in the backfield and on the defense as a whole.’’

Signing Goldson is the Bucs’ first attempt to repair a pass defense that ranked last in the league in 2012 and fell only 37 yards short of being the worst in NFL history.

Goldson, 28, has 14 career interceptions, including nine the last two season, and 20 pass breakups the past two seasons alone. He is considered the top safety available on the free agency market.

“This is a really great player on the field, a leader, and it’s not going to take a lot of work to put together a Dashon Goldson highlight tape,’’ Dominik said. “He brings a lot of veteran experience and leadership to this defense and to the back end of our football team.’’

An explosive hitter and run stopper in the box, Goldson is at his best playing the role of the deep ball hawker, which would seem to make him a good fit with safety Mark Barron, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick in 2012.

“We’ve had our eye on him for a while,” Schiano said. “Certainly, when you watch his tape, you see it as a coach – these are not only the things that you want in your safety, but just as important is the fact that he understands as a head coach exactly what I’m looking for.

“He’s going to come in here and be a leader and be a guy that understands what it takes to be a championship football team’’

The signing of Goldson, meanwhile, means the Bucs have a replacement for free agent Ronde Barber, who moved to safety last season after playing his first 15 seasons at cornerback.

Barber hit the open market when the new league year began at 4 p.m. Tuesday. He is contemplating retirement, as well as the possibility of returning to the Bucs in a reserve role or playing for another team.

Barber met with Bucs general manager Mark Dominik and coach Greg Schiano last week and learned the team was considering using free agency or the draft to find a starting safety.

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