College Sports

Former Maryland defensive lineman A.J. Francis signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

A little bit more than a week after the Seattle Seahawks cut him loose, former Maryland defensive lineman A.J. Francis has found a home in the state where he started his professional career three years ago. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced the addition of Francis to the roster Tuesday.

Francis was a larger-than-life personality along the Maryland defensive line during his five years in College Park. He appeared in 49 games with 35 starts and finished his career with 20 1/2 tackles for loss and 9 1/2 sacks.


He went undrafted after his senior season, but he caught on with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent for the 2013 season. He was signed to the New England Patriots practice squad before the Dolphins brought him back for the final five weeks of that season.

Francis spent 2014 on injured reserve, but he made Miami's roster before the 2015 season. He appeared in one game and recorded a tackle before he was waived and picked up by Seattle for the latter part of the season. The Seahawks waived him May 9.


Francis -- who will graduate from Maryland with a Master's degree in international security and economic policy this week -- commented on his release on Twitter.

"I understand the business, I'm not there cuz I'm in school... It's a what have you done for me lately world, and no hard feelings," Francis tweeted.

He added, "I had to finish this Master's & couldn't waste this opportunity...After graduation on the 20th, I'll be ready for whoever & whatever's next."

That "next" is joining the Bucs defensive line rotation, which currently features Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence.

In addition to working on his degree while playing in the NFL, Francis has worked as an Uber driver, and in the past he expressed the political ambition of becoming the governor of Maryland.