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Bucs GM happy to have this player back after letting him walk in free agency years earlier: ‘It was a mistake’

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USATSI

Safety Jordan Whitehead is back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that drafted him, after a short stint with the New York Jets. The 27-year-old was taken in the fourth round of the 2018 draft by the Bucs, but they let him go in free agency after four years with the team. This offseason, they got him back in free agency and the team is happy they were able to sign him again, giving him a two-year, $9 million contract. 

He played for the Jets in 2022 and 2023, and once he became available, the Buccaneers jumped at the chance to get him back. Tampa Bay General Manager Jason Licht had his reasons why he let Whitehead walk ahead of the 2022 season, as the team needed the salary cap space, but he said it was an immediate regret. The Jets gave Whitehead a two-year, $14.5 million contract, something Licht felt his team could not afford at the time. 

On the Loose Cannons Podcast, he explained why he let Whitehead go in the first place and why he was excited to get him back. 

“With Jordan, it was a mea culpa,” Licht said (via the Tampa Bay Times). “We had to draw the line at some point. And I made a mistake. I’m glad we got him back. It was a mistake that I regretted the minute we let him walk. Luckily, I had a chance to get him back. And nobody’s happier than him, [safeties coach] Nick Rapone, [head coach] Todd Bowles, myself. He’s going to make a big impact for us this year.”

In four years with the Bucs, Whitehead played in 59 games (starting 55), with five interceptions and 292 combined tackles. In the last two seasons in New York, he started all 34 games he played in, with six interceptions and 186 combined tackles. 

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