By Eric Schmidt

Michael Bennett led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in sacks last season with nine. The lack of a formidable pass rush has plagued the Buccaneers for two seasons. Bennett is heading for free agency next month but his value to the Buccaneers rose suddenly in the past 24 hours. Fellow defensive end Da’Quan Bowers was arrested yesterday as he tried to board a plane with a loaded .40 caliber firearm.

Bowers was arrested on a second degree weapons possession charge, the same charge that landed wide receiver Plaxico Burress in jail. The charge carries a mandatory 3 1/2 year sentence and Burress served two years. Bowers is entering his third year with the Buccaneers and figured to play a larger role with the Tampa Bay defense next season, especially if Bennett departed via free agency.

Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik told reporters last week that the team was going to focus on trying to re-sign some of their own free agents this offseason and now that focus needs to be placed on Michael Bennett even more.

There has no explanation given as to why Bowers was trying to board a plane with a loaded gun. The Buccaneers front office issued a statement claiming they are aware of the situation and gathering the facts in the case.

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