FREE AGENCY IS HERE!
It’s one of the most exciting times of every off-season. However, this one is a bit different for the WORLD CHAMPION Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For once, they’ll be focused on re-signing their own players instead of looking at free agents from around the league.
If you’ve been following along with the team so far this off-season, then you know that they’ve already extended Tom Brady’s contract a couple more years (which frees up some cap space), placed the franchise tag on Chris Godwin (keeping him in Tampa), re-signed Lavonte David to a cap friendly deal AND they’re working on a long term deal for Shaq Barrett.
Yes, they’ve been busy.
The good news for Bucs fans is that it looks like they were serious about keeping the band together for a shot at back-to-back titles. They’ve already secured two of their top three free agents and they’re working on their third. It appears that they will be able to bring back most, if not all of their key free agents from the Super Bowl winning team. However it will likely take most, if not all of their cap space to do it.
But what if they had a little sumpin sumpin left to go out and sign one or two of the free agents out there on the market? Who should they go after? Well, I’m here to tell you. I’ve put together my Top Five list of free agents that I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bucs bring in to help with their run for a second straight Lombardi. So here they are in no particular order.
DL Leonard Williams
It’s not likely, but a guy can dream, right? Actually my first pick here was going to be JJ Watt, but he decided to sign with the Arizona Cardinals instead. At just 26 years old, Williams would be a really good consolation prize though. That is IF he’s able to escape from the evil clutches of the Giants. They will probably try to slap him with another franchise tag to keep him in New York IF they can’t work out a long term deal. But if he does make it out, maybe he’d be willing to come on down to the Sunshine State at a discount for a chance to play in a Super Bowl. He had 11.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss last season and would be an interesting toy for Todd Bowles to move all over the defensive line.
CB Patrick Peterson
At 30 years old, he can still play at a high level finishing with 61 tackles, 3 interceptions and 8 passes defensed last season. The Cardinals have let it be known that they aren’t interested in re-signing the veteran cornerback. I know what you’re probably saying. The Bucs don’t need him with their young secondary, right? Wrong. They could always use good players. Especially an experienced one like Peterson. He played for Bruce Arians from 2013 to 2017 AND played in Bowles system in Arizona as well. For the right price, why not?
RB James White
With the future of “Playoff Lenny” Fournette up in the air (for the moment), the Bucs could look into bringing in a proven third down back to replace him. White just turned 29 years old, has decent size and speed and great hands. Plus he played with Tom Brady for 6 years in New England. He could make a nice complimentary piece to Ronald Jones II in the Bucs backfield.
OLB Markus Golden
He’s about to turn 30 years old in a few days, but could offer another solid edge rusher to the Bucs d-line rotation. He was drafted by Arians in Arizona in 2015 and had his best season in 2016 while playing in Bowles system finishing with 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss. Maybe he could find some of that magic again here in Tampa. His addition would not only give the Bucs another guy to rotate on the edge, but also allow Jason Pierre-Paul to kick inside and rush against interior offensive linemen where he’s had a lot of success in the past.
DT Gerald McCoy
Okay, just hear me out on this one. He just turned 33 years old and he’s a free agent after being released by the Cowboys last season due to injury. He missed all of 2020 with that quad injury, but looks to be healthy and ready to go for next season. He hasn’t had less than 5 sacks in a season since 2011 and could make for a nice addition to the Bucs interior d-line rotation IF they can get him for the right price. He even said on a recent podcast that he’s not looking to break the bank in free agency and that he just wants to experience winning before he retires. Wouldn’t it be nice to let Gerald come back and finish his career in Tampa while winning a Super Bowl? He deserves it after what he went through with this franchise, doesn’t he?
The Buccaneers are in a fantastic position this off-season. They have a decent amount of cap space, with avenues to create even more. And they have an opportunity to keep most of this championship team together for at least one more season. Even if they do bring back everyone, it wouldn’t hurt to add more good players to the roster and any of these five guys would make a lot of sense. The least likely option would be Leonard Williams, as he will probably receive the franchise tag. The most likely option could be Gerald McCoy who makes the most sense and would probably be the most cap friendly signing as well.
Call me sentimental, but I’d love to see McCoy come back on a one year deal and have a chance at making the playoffs for the first time in his career and possibly end it on a high note with a Super Bowl ring. I’m not so sure the Bucs front office feels the same way, but you never know. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens when NFL free agency opens up on March 17 at 1pm.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!