With plenty of big names in free agency, the Buccaneers should look to fill holes with offseason signings
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have spent the last two years improving as a team. This offseason is the perfect time for them to take their recent success to the next level.
Although many have already to begin to speculate the direction the Buccaneers may head in the draft, free agency has a number of candidates in it’s pool that would be welcomed additions to the Buccaneers, and this is the season for the Buccaneers to spend the money to boost the team to the next level.
The Tampa Bay passing attack has been a force since the Buccaneers used their first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft to draft Jameis Winston. Winston set an NFL record this season as the only quarterback in the history of the game to break 4,000 yards passing in his first two seasons, and fell 66 yards short of breaking Andrew Luck‘s all-time record of passing yards through two seasons. Jameis is also the proud owner of the most touchdown passes thrown in a single season in franchise history with his 28 touchdown passes this season, breaking Josh Freeman‘s record of 27.
With all Jameis Winston has accomplished in his first two years, it is even more impressive that he accomplished these feats mostly playing without a true number two receiver. Vincent Jackson played in a combined games over the last two season, as he battled multiple injuries, including a torn ACL this season. While Adam Humphries filled in admirably in Jackson’s absence, Humphries value comes out of the slot position, not lined up on the outside.
Free agency offers many solutions to the said issue. With a projected $65 million plus to spend this offseason, the Buccaneers can go a long way to prove to they are for real. That starts with landing some top free agents this season to fill voids. There first target should be Alshon Jeffery.
Although Alshon Jeffery has missed some time do to injuries and a suspension over the last couple of seasons, he has still averaged 15.4 yards per reception. Jeffery did his best work while a number two behind Brandon Marshall on the depth chart, breaking a thousand yards in his second and third seasons while scoring 17 touchdowns. The Buccaneers would be wise to be all-in on Jeffery, who at 6’4″ would be a perfect compliment to Mike Evans and give Jameis Winston a big, reliable target opposite of Evans.
Even if the Buccaneers are unable to sign Jeffery, staying in the free agent pool to fill their void at wide receiver would be wise. Looking a Terrelle Pryor would be wise as well, as the college quarterback turned wide receiver turned in an impressive 1,007 campaign this season while playing for the Cleveland Browns, who had five different quarterbacks throw Pryor the ball this season. Having a steady quarterback with a talented wide receiver lined up on the other side of him could increase his production even more, and come at a reasonable price.
An upgrade at defense could come via free agency as well. With pass defense a glaring need last year, the safety position needs to be addressed, and the free agent pool contains one of the best out there, Eric Berry. Berry was a promising player for the Kansas City Chiefs until tragedy struck and he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014.
After beating the disease, many wondered if Berry could return to playing at a high skill level. Eric answered his critics by being named as a first-team all-pro and winning the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award in 2015. He then followed that up with another first-team all-pro selection with 77 tackles, four interceptions and two tackles in 2016. Although Berry will command top dollar, the Bucs should give the 28 year old what he wants to solidify their defense for years to come.
Using free agency to fill these needs will allow the Bucs to use the NFL draft to strengthen other needs, and allow them to prove they are in it to win it in the immediate future.