After week one the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking thin in the secondary. Sean Murphy-Bunting was injured against the Cowboys and looks to be out for 3-5 weeks with a dislocated elbow. That leaves Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Ross Cockrell as their options. Maybe its time to look to see what free agents are still available. Here are some options that remain unsigned.
Gareon Conley (26 years old)
Not too far removed from being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft, Conley remains unsigned. A victim of horrible miss managed teams, seeing what Conley has left in should warrant at least an invitation for a workout. If there is a team that could resurrect something from hm, it’s a Todd Bowles lead Buccaneers defense.
Conley won’t have to much wear and tear, he didn’t play in 2020 due to injuries. In his first two seasons, he managed 29 pass deflections and four interceptions. During those two seasons, he managed to force 22.2% incompletions when he was targeted.
He could have some upside and at his age, he could find himself sticking with the team longer. He also wouldn’t command nearly as much money as the next corner on this list.
Richard Sherman (33 years old)
A one-time generational talent, Sherman is on the back end of his career. However, that doesn’t mean he’s not useful and could provide some depth and leadership. Last season he only played in five games and was on the field for 332 snaps. During this span, he allowed a 72.4% completion percentage when targeted.
With time to rest after last year, he could return to serviceable form. During the 2019 season, a healthy Sherman only allowed 227 yards and a passer rating of 46.8. That season he swatted 11 passes and recorded three interceptions.
There is another small catch. Sherman may be facing legal consequences after an offseason incident.
Corn Elder (26 years old)
I understand this is not a name that one would expect on this list. Elder is not especially talented, in fact, he is a very average player. So why would he land on here?
Only being in the league for three seasons Elder has been with the Panthers for all three years. He’s well versed with the NFC South opponents that the Buccaneers will face six times this season. Moreover, he’ll understand the nuances of certain receivers he may be assigned to cover and possess prerequisite knowledge that helps him as soon as he’s on the roster. The knowledge he can share.
On the statistical side of the house, he had a poor 2018 season. He allowed a catch percentage of 83.3%. After not playing much of the 2019 season he found around 300 defensive coverage snaps in 2020. During last season he improved his number with a 68% catch percentage allowed. Still not great numbers but it shows growth.
The Buccaneers need to start exploring options in case they need to replace Bunting for a longer than the expected duration of time. Maybe a trade should be in the works. Either way, they may have to address this issue sooner than they expected to.
Free Agent Honorable Mentions
Darqueze Dennard, Quinton Dunbar, D. J. Hayden