How Should Buccaneers GM Jason Licht Tackle Free Agency in 2021?

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After their Super Bowl LV victory in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers have become a possible hot team for free agents this summer. Assuming general manager Jason Licht can bring back the core of this team in Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, and Rob Gronkowski, where would the next move be?

Sure there are plenty of other guys this team would like to resign, Antonio Brown, Ryan Succop, and Rakeem Nunes-Roches. Joe Haeg and special teams captain Kevin Minter would also be solid re-signings, but what about free agents outside the team’s own?

If the Buccaneers are looking to add pieces to “Go For Two” they could look to some familiar faces of teammates and coaches.

Running Back

James White and Rex Burkhead are both set to be free agents this off-season and their familiarity with quarterback Tom Brady has many linking them to Tampa. One thing the Buccaneers sorely missed last season was a consistent pass-catching running back coming out of the backfield. Both White and Burkhead excelled in that role in New England. Coupled with their experience with Brady both would project to fit in seamlessly in the offensive system.

Another positive neither should be looking to break the bank in terms of contacts. San Francisco 49ers running backs Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon could be players to take a look at as well. While both players have had their shares of injuries, they offer excellent skills in catching the ball out of the backfield and elusiveness.

There could also be older mentor-type veteran players that could be under consideration, ala LeSean McCoy last year, such as Adrian Peterson who has already expressed a desire to play in Tampa Bay. I would expect the Buccaneers to look in the draft for running back help as well.

My choice: James White

Outside Linebacker/Edge

Even if the Buccaneers can bring Shaq Barrett back the depth at the outside linebacker position is noticeably thin. While second-year player Anthony Nelson did a respectable job as a rotational player this is another spot the Buccaneers could improve. I thoroughly expect Licht to take a hard look in the draft but if they do choose to look from the outside there are plenty of veterans that could be options.

The Buccaneers could look to someone who has ties to head coach Bruce Arians and bring in a guy like Markus Golden whom Arians drafted in 2015. Golden had 4.5 sacks, a forced, and recovered a fumble and an interception last year playing in a limited role with the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. While those numbers don’t jump off the page, as a rotational player he could be a solid addition. Older players that could take less to “chase a ring” and are still producing are guys like Ryan Kerrigan, Justin Houston, or Everson Griffin.

Another route would be to try and bring in a young reclamation project like Taco Charlton or Charles Harris. Two former first-round picks that have not been able to find consistency in their career yet are still only 26 years old. And of course, there is the elephant in the room everyone has been talking about in JJ Watt. While Watt’s production hasn’t been what it was earlier in his career he was still the most double-teamed player in all of football in 2021 and can make a difference on the field.

If the Buccaneers chose to move on from William Gholston or can’t reach an agreement with Suh, depending on his contract demands he would be a great addition to this team.

My choice: Markus Golden

If a majority of the Buccaneers’ free agents are resigned it will leave little holes on a team that just became the first team in history to win a “home” Super Bowl and are looking to go back to back. If they can add a few veteran pieces at moderate costs and supplement through the draft there is no reason this team can’t be well on their way to accomplish “going for two.”

 

 

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