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Arizona Cardinals pick up Deone Bucannon’s fifth-year option

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As expected for the $LB entering his fourth season

Divisional Round - Green Bay Packers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals have announced that they are picking up the fifth-year option on Deone Bucannon’s contract.

The news comes a day after Daryl Washington has been reinstated by the league on a conditional basis. For those who wonder if Bucannon should move back to safety as a result to Washington’s reinstatement and Buc’s size for a linebacker, here’s what Arians had to say following the conclusion of the 2016 season. Quote tweeted by Darren Urban earlier today.

“No, Buc’s got his spot. Very few guys can do what he does"

Not too long ago in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bucannon was projected to be a second round pick. Analysts said he “lacks discipline on the field” as well as “makes too many mental mistakes”. Aside from his “so-called” weaknesses, which Buc has proven wrong, he had the ideal size for a strong safety and had amazing combine results. The Arizona Cardinals needed a big safety, which the team didn’t have since Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes departed after the 2012 NFL season.

Combine Results: 4.49 40, 19 Bench Press, 36.5 Vertical, 125 Broad, 6.96 3 Cone Drill

Nonetheless, the Cardinals liked his size and potential. His play spoke for itself. The team held the 20th pick in the draft but decided to trade down seven spots with the Saints and acquired a third round pick in the process, which the Cardinals used to draft John Brown. Then with the 27th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Arizona Cardinals selected Deone Bucannon, safety from Washington State.

He started his career at safety, for the first month of the 2014 season. The Cardinals knew that Bucannon was a good tackler, run stuffer as well as a hard hitter. Bruce Arians also praised him for his ability to do everything on defense, not just in tackling but in pass coverage as well. So Arians experimented with him at linebacker that season. He exceeded expectations and so officially moved to inside linebacker full time in 2015. He did not disappoint. He recorded 114 tackles 3 sacks 3 forced fumbles, and an interception for a touchdown.

Bucannon was a safety turned linebacker and that’s how the idea of hybrid linebackers were born. He has paved the way for other potential safeties turned linebackers to succeed in college and in the NFL. One player that benefited from Buc’s position change is Mark Barron.

He did take a step back in the 2016 season, as well as most of the Cardinals unit, but was still able to record 91 tackles. He was placed on injury reserve as a result to an ankle injury and missed the last three games of the regular season.

He has had an impressive career thus far. After rehabbing the past few months, he should be 100% healthy and is ready to participate in team activities this offseason.

Rest assured, he will remain with the Arizona Cardinals for, at least, the next two seasons. Hopefully the team will be able to sign him to a long term extension in the near future.

Here is an ending quote from Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim after a pre-draft meal with Bucannon in 2014 that sums up their thoughts on their $LB.

“You sit down with a guy and you have an opportunity to have dinner, and you look him in the eyes, and you see what they’re made of,” Keim said. “Some guys within a couple of minutes turn you off and you realize this guy is not for us … [Bucannon] convinces you what you saw on tape is also what you see in person.”