The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a problem as they head into the offseason. In short, they don’t have any money… Okay, more accurately, they don’t have any cap space they can use to sign free agents.
The Bucs are currently more than $40 million over the cap. This means they have to cut that much salary from the roster to be compliant with the league. And with guarantee and dead money on the books, this is a very difficult task to achieve.
What will be even harder will be filling out the depth chart. While the team must cut players to save cap space, those positions on the roster will still have to be filled. This means that the Buccaneers will need a lot of players on cheap deals this offseason.
Here are some names that should be affordable and can play a valuable role for the Bucs this coming season
You can’t teach speed and Slayton has it. He has been quietly and consistently productive with the New York Giants, despite instability at quarterback. He’s had 700+ receiving yards in three of his first four seasons.
It’s unclear what the depth will look like at receiver after Evans and Godwin. Should they have a need for a third wide receiver then Slayton can fill that role. If he’s a fourth wide receiver then that is excellent depth.
A hand in the dirt type of defensive end, Omenihu is a perfect fit for the Bucs 3-4 defense. He is coming off a career high 4.5 sacks as a rotational player with the San Francisco 49ers. With the opportunity to start in Tampa Bay, he could improve those numbers significantly.
It’s unlikely that Omenihu will be the long term defensive tackle for this team. But the realistic possibility that he could be makes him worth strongly considering. Even if he can just come in and start for a year or two at a low price then I believe that this would be a great signing.
Tranquill has a background of playing safety. However, he has been a solid starting linebacker at the NFL level. And while he certainly wouldn’t be able to replace Lavonte David if he leaves in free agency, he can step in and fill his role.
Establishing himself as a full time starter last season, Tranquill racked up 146 tackles, including 10.0 tackles for a loss and five sacks. Now he is looking to prove that he can be not only a full time starter in the league, but a legitimate piece on a contending defense.
Ximines has always been a bit of a square peg in a round hole in the New York Giants defense. He always projected as more of an outside linebacker, but was asked to be more of a traditional hand in the dirt defensive end in New York. He made the switch back to outside linebacker and had more sacks than the previous two years combined.
Getting a chance to play in a 3-4 defense as an outside pass rusher could revitalize Ximines’ career. And while he is unlikely to take playing time away from either of the Bucs top two guys, he could turn into a good third option off the bench
If you’re looking for a great athlete and special teams player then you want Khaleke Hudson. After playing as a safety/linebacker hybrid at the University of Michigan, he has played some of both at the NFL level. He is now a free agent for the first time and looking to prove himself.
This makes for a barging signing if the Bucs are interested. Tampa Bay currently has a need for a strong safety as well as depth at linebacker. If Hudson can serve as a role player at both positions as well as a valuable special teams player then he’d be a great addition.
Winovich is a full time hustler and a great culture builder type of guy. In his time at Michigan, he racked up 43.0 tackles for loss in his three seasons as a starter. He was widely regarded as a leader and an effort type of guy.
This could be the type of depth signing that the Bucs need to replace guys like Anthony Nelson. If the Bucs can bring in WInovich at a similar price tag to what he made last year, which was less than $1 million, then he would be a great addition to the roster.
A familiar face appears on the list with their 2017 first round pick OJ Howard. Howard spent the first five years of his career in Tampa Bay and was part of their super bowl winning team, although he missed a large part of the season with injury.
While Howard has had an injury riddled career and hasn’t lived up to his draft status, he still can bring value as a part of the tight end rotation. Moving to a back up role might take some wear and tear off his body and maximize his ability as a second tight end.
If you like physical box safeties then Elliott is your man. He was a nice depth safety who filled his role well in Detroit last season and brings a toughness that every defense needs. He could come in as a veteran presence and fill the void left by Jordan Whitehead.
While not a great coverage player, the impact Elliott could make with the run defense would be positive. Getting back to a dominant run defense should be a high priority as they took a step backward last season.