With the 2019 season in the rearview mirror, Tampa Bay has a few decisions to make moving forward. The free agency period should be an interesting one this year. With big free agents looking for their future teams, Tampa Bay will have to be players this season. Big decisions at key positions will need to be made in order to build for the short term future. The most glaring and important need is at quarterback.
Free Agent Jameis Winston, QB
Jameis Winston will be the single most important piece for the Buccaneers in the free agency period. The rumors have been swirling since the end of the season on whether to re-sign Winston or let him walk. I think that the front office has plans to re-sign him. Winston is only 26 years old and has a ton of talent. At the end of the season coach Arians said the decision wouldn’t be made quickly but also asked: “What’s behind door number two?”. There are some options in free agency which leads me to the next person
Dak Prescott, QB
In my opinion, Dak Prescott has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league over the last few years. He is set to hit the market if the Dallas Cowboys don’t make an offer that he is comfortable with. Prescott has proven that he is a franchise player and wants to be paid as such. Over the last four years, Prescott has thrown for 15,778 yards, rushed for 1,221 and accounted for 118 touchdowns. This past season he threw for 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. This could be an upgrade, but the price tag may be a bit high.
Jake Conklin, OL
Tampa Bay may be looking to upgrade the offensive line this offseason. At the end of the season, Demar Dotson was set to become a free agent and in my opinion, the Buccaneers should move on. Jake Conklin would be an upgrade to the offensive line and is only 25 years old. He ranks second in the top free-agent tackles in the league and could instantly help improve the teams run blocking.
Halapouilivaati Vaitai, OL
Halappuilivaati Vaitai is regarded as one of the best backup Offensive linemen in the league and is looking to compete for a starting job. Vaitai played a huge part in the Philadelphia Eagles line once Jason Peters was hurt during their Superbowl run. The Bucs could use him, and he would be a more reasonable price tag over players like Conklin.
Brandon Scherff, OL
Brandon Scherff is a player that could give the Buccaneers options in the trenches. If Tampa signs Scherff, the team could move Alex Cappa to his more natural fit at right tackle and plug in a Pro Bowl player to sure up the middle of the line. This would be an upgrade to the offensive line and the price tag is one that should be a mid-level deal.
Shaquil Barrett, Edge
Shaq Barrett is a player that the Buccaneers will look to keep on the roster for years to come. Barrett signed a one-year deal last offseason and had a breakout season. Leading the league in sacks with 19.5, Barrett was elected to his first Pro Bowl. Arians has stated that he wanted to keep the defense intact and Barrett is going to be the top priority. Barrett was asked about the upcoming free agency period and he stated that he loved playing in Tampa and wanted to come back. The Buccaneers know that Barrett is a key piece and I don’t see them not re-signing him once free agency starts.
Jason Pierre-Paul, Edge
Over the last two seasons, I can’t think of a player that has changed the team more than Jason Pierre-Paul. His presence in the locker room and on the field has been understated. Once traded to the Buccaneers, Pierre-Paul became a bright spot of the defensive side of the ball, racking up double digits sack in his first season. His high motor and will to win have become an example to the younger players. In my eyes, he is the second most important defensive player Tampa needs to sign this offseason.
Yannick Ngakoue, Edge
If the Buccaneers can’t re-sign Barrett, this would be a great replacement. Yannick Ngakoue has become a devasting pass rusher and won’t be 25 until the end of March. He ranks second among outside linebackers in this free-agent class, only behind Barrett. Ngakoue has played in 63 games and racked up 37.5 sacks. Can you imagine if the Buccaneers could pull off signing both Barrett and Ngakoue? That could be a recipe for success.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
Tampa Bay has a very young secondary and could use a veteran presence at the position. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would provide a veteran playmaker and would be a nice fix into Coach Bowles’s defensive scheme. After signing a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears and posting one of his best seasons, Clinton-Dix will be looking to sign a long-term deal. If Clinton-Dix can return to his 2016 Pro Bowl form where he had five interceptions and seven passes defended, the Buccaneers could become an elite defense.
D.J. Reader, NT
D.J. Reader could be the perfect replacement if Ndamukong Suh doesn’t re-sign or he retires. Reader is one of the leagues premier defensive run stoppers. If he could be signed, Reader would be coming to the leagues top run defense. Reader and Vita Vea in the middle of the Buccaneers defense would pose a problem for any team in the league
These are only a few options that the Buccaneers can look at this offseason to make the team better. Let’s just hope the decision that will be made makes the team a playoff contender in the 2020 season.