Last season was a disaster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was obvious, after watching several games, that the Bucs have many holes to fill on both sides of the ball. The offensive and defensive lines could both use some veteran players that can make an instant impact. So who’s available this year???
Let’s start by looking at the most pressing need – DEs. Last year, the Bucs DEs were never able to generate any pass rush whatsoever. This year, Ezekial Ansah will be available and has been a name on the tip of some Bucs fans tongues in recent weeks. Ansah is a solid defensive end – quick on the outside and strong. His ability to get to the quarterback for a sack or to disrupt plays is outstanding. It would be difficult to see the Lions letting go of such a stud, but if they do, Tampa should throw their hat into the bidding pool.
Demarcus Lawrence is another name that could be up for grabs in FA, and after his break out season last year, he shows much promise heading into the future. Lawrence snapped off an incredible 14.5 sacks for the Cowboys, and after his 4th season in the NFL, his performance seemed to come completely out of nowhere. Is it a fluke? Are the Cowboys willing to take a chance on him?? If not, and he makes it to the Free agent Market, Tampa should take a long hard look at this guy, who could be on an upswing.
I wouldn’t mind taking either Lawrence or Ansah if I could.
Other than a good season from rookie Justin Evans, the defensive backfield completely imploded last season. It’s imperative that the Bucs make changes there. There are a lot of very talented DBs available that could make a huge impact.
Prince Amukamara is a guy I’ve liked for a long time, and many Bucs fans have even said his name before. He is not the guy that’s going to take the ball out of the sky and return for a TD, making QBs think twice about throwing in his direction, but he is a capable corner. After bouncing around NFL teams, spending five seasons with the Giants, a year with the Jaguars, and a year with the Bears, it is very likely he is going to be spending another year with yet another team. Why not Tampa… For the right price???
Malcolm Butler (“Mr. Super Bowl”) played for the Patriots for four seasons and is looking for a new contract from them. He is not exactly a shutdown corner, but the man is more than capable and sometimes, downright outstanding. It’s unlikely that the Pats will let him go, but they may not give him the money he wants, either. If that happens, I’d Like Tampa to at least give it a shot at signing him.
Bashad Breeland is a corner that has proven to be a handful for wide receivers. Not the biggest name guy on the block, but he has big name skills. After knocking down 19 passes last season, he is the type of guy that will make you think twice before throwing a much-needed third or fourth down conversion in his direction. Not exactly a lockdown guy, but he will get in the way when he has to and that is all that matters, and all for a decent price.
Aaron Colvin is not a big name guy or a shutdown guy, but he is a guy who can play for a good price. Not a starter so let’s not go crazy, but he is definitely good for depth and played on the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that knows defense. He could give some of our guys on the roster a run for their money.
On offense, the Bucs struggled mightily to get the run game going, but to no avail. If Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell somehow becomes available, I want him in a Buccaneers uniform. However, that’s more than unlikely to happen. I do not feel that the Steelers would let Bell go anywhere in the foreseeable future.
Eddie Lacy left Green Bay last year and went to Seattle. They took a risk on him and he did not pan out so he could be up for grabs. Lacy is injury prone, which is why the Packers let him go, but for the right price and in the right situation, he is a hard running back to overlook.
Darren Sproles 12 years in the NFL and this guy is beginning to slow down. Not the 1,000+ yard running back that you think of, but between his rushes and catches out of the backfield, he almost reaches the 1,000-yard mark every year. We have Charles Sims, so I wouldn’t think the Bucs would go after him, I know I wouldn’t except as a camp body, but I like the guy so I’m mentioning him.
Finally, it’s clear as day that the Bucs need an LT. Nate Solder might be ready to test the market, although he is inconsistent at times he has been solid more often than not. He has been among the Patriots faithful on the offensive line, and is a part of the wall that protects Tom Brady. If he becomes available, he would definitely help solidify the Buccaneers’ o line. I just don’t think the Pats are going to let him go. It would be nice to have him.
At Guard, Andre Norwell is a big pulling guard for the Panthers and may be available in free agency. An Allpro Gaurd last season and if the Panthers are willing to let him go, Tampa should be right on his tail. He would fill a definite need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’d at least keep my eyes on him.. if he becomes available.
C. Weston Richburg is a little iffy at times but is a rock more often than not. A great guy to add to the depth chart and a center in case the number one takes a breather. I wouldn’t throw my hat in the ring for this guy if he wants too much money, but at the right price, he is perfect as a backup. His presence could help free up other guys on our roster that are having to work multiple offensive line positions currently.
GM Jason Licht doesn’t have a great record when it comes to free agent signings. Let’s hope this year he hits the jackpot!
Written By: Kyle Riddle