In May, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers swooped in on ball hawking safety, DJ Swearinger, and assumed the remaining two years of his rookie contract at a cap friendly $722,390 in 2015 and $881,o85 in 2016. (NBC Sports).
Tampa Bay plugged the 23-year-old into the starting defense in training camp where he has excelled rapidly. The versatile, strong safety will begin to wreak havoc on opposing offenses in the September 13th match-up with the Tennessee Titans where he will likely pay immediate dividends against rookie QB Marcus Mariota.
The Houston Texans drafted the former Gamecock in the second round of the 2013 draft with the 57th overall pick. Swearinger started in 22-games for the Texans at strong safety in two seasons where he racked up 144-tackles, ten passes defensed, and registered three interceptions in 32-games.
Swearinger still has the “it” factor that defensive coordinators look for in a player on the back end. DJ was a four-year starter at the University of South Carolina where he was captain of the defense and played every position of the secondary. The big play skills and brutal hits made him a crowd favorite and beloved figure on campus where he is regarded as something of a hero.
Fantasy football analyst Dan Ciarrocchi accurately described Swearinger as
“A looming presence who possessed the ability to make a crushing, game-changing hit at any moment, but also the instincts to make him dependable from series to series.” -Pro Football Focus.
With his new team and a fresh start, DJ is proving once again to be the durable leader and bruising enforcer that has defined most of his career. He backs up his confident manner with the kind of tackles that send fellow defenders into a feeding frenzy. Swearinger is an impact playmaker from start to finish.
Upon his release from the Texans, Swearinger had eight teams in line to claim him off waivers. While Tampa Bay had first rights to the hard-hitting safety, Jacksonville, Oakland, Atlanta, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the New York Jets sought to pick him up as well.
Pittsburgh Steelers‘ Head Coach, Mike Tomlin once commented on Swearinger in a pre-game presser: “I really admire how he plays. He plays with a great deal of heart and passion. He is consistently physical.” When addressing his versatility Tomlin added:
“He plays in deep defense. He plays in underneath zone. He plays zone. He will man up against tight ends, running backs and even wide receivers. He has a well rounded game.” -Mike Wilkenburg of nbcsports.com.
The talented veteran defender has the experience and resume to play strong or free safety and has even filled in at corner with success. In a recent interview, Swearinger stated:
“I see myself as a playmaker first and foremost. Whether its taking the ball out of a running back’s hand, jarring the ball loose, or going and getting an interception-you’ve got to be a playmaker in this league.” -Zach Shapiro PewterReport.com
D.J.’s talent, speed and confidence will flourish under new head coach, Lovie Smith, who stated of Swearinger:
“We need to see production on the field and we are taking notice.”
Swearinger’s physicality, athleticism and big play ability have been embraced in Tampa Bay.