TAMPA -- Safety T.J. Ward signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday.
General manager Jason Licht, having saved $25.5-million in salary cap space for such a transaction, pounced with more than a half dozen other teams interested when Ward was released Friday after three seasons in Denver.
Ward, 30, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
What are the Bucs getting in Ward?
He's as tough and competitive as any player you will find in the NFL and a key member of the Broncos' No Fly Zone. Ward is also someone who has overcome plenty of obstacles.
A knee injury early during his senior year in high school at prep powerhouse De La Salle in Concord, Calif., forced him to walk on at the University of Oregon.
After being drafted in the second round by Cleveland in 2010, the Browns didn't think he was worth retaining as a free agent despite earning a spot in the Pro Bowl his fourth season.
All he did with the Broncos was go to two more Pro Bowls and play an integral part in their Super Bowl 50 win over the Carolina Panthers by recording seven tackles, a pass defended, a fumble recovery, and an interception.
"I don't think he should be going," Broncos defensive end Von Miller said earlier this week when word that Ward could be released. "That's a cornerstone of the 'No Fly Zone.'"
The Bucs have made room for Ward, dealing backup J.J. Wilcox to the Steelers in a swap of late-round picks.
Pittsburgh gets Wilcox from the Bucs, as well as a 2019 seventh-round pick, while the Bucs get a 2018 sixth-round pick from the Steelers. Pittsburgh also takes on Wilcox's guaranteed 2017 salary, which the Bucs would have had to pay had they released him.
Wilcox signed with the Bucs in free agency in March and was expected to compete for a starting position, but he wasn't able to unseat Keith Tandy and Chris Conte, who returned from last year's team.
With the Bucs signing Ward, Wilcox became the odd man out in the safety rotation. Rookie Justin Evans also remains as a backup safety, along with Josh Robinson, who is primarily a special-teams player.