After spending a year out of the league, Lovie Smith returns to the NFL. Smith has signed a four year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers worth $5M a year according to sources within the organization. Smith was considered a strong candidate for both the Detroit Lions and Bucs position but was more interested in coaching in Tampa.
Smith last coached the Chicago Bears where he amassed a 81-63 record in the regular season and a 3-3 record in the post season including a loss in Super Bowl XLI. Despite his success and finishing 10-6 in his final season, the Bears organization fired him when they failed to make the playoffs.
The Bucs meanwhile have suffered through four years of losing seasons first with Raheem Morris (17-31) and recently with Greg Schiano (11-21). The Super Bowl XXXVII champs who popularized the “Tampa 2″defense have been in search of an identity since firing Jon Gruden in 2008.
Bucs will need to find a franchise quarterback, a number two receiver and address issues on the offensive and defensive lines. With no GM to start, Smith will have more control of personnel decisions and can bring in the right players through the draft and free agency.
Sources say Smith will bring in former Cal coach Jeff Tedford as his offensive coordinator and is in talks with Rod Marinelli and Leslie Frazier for the defensive coordinator position.