The start of free agency is always filled with a flurry of activity before the market is set and teams become more judicious with their acquisitions. The Buccaneers have wasted little time taking their shots at the best free agents available.
With Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson already in, and many of the other top-tier free agents narrowing down their potential offers, teams will now start turning their attention to the second tier of free agents available.
Free agency is now well underway, the opening salvos have been fired. The big pieces are beginning to fall. It’s on to the second round.
Now, the quick distinction needs to be made that these are not necessarily second-rate players at all, they just don’t hit the market with the kind of Pro-Bowl, All-Pro pedigree that make other players top flight.
It may be due to the depth chart or injuries or even just the system they were asked to play in, but you find a lot of potential gems in the second tier of players. Guys that just need the right fit or a little coaching to hit their potential.
They also come a little bit cheaper.
The Buccaneers haven’t exhausted their coffers, they’ve still got plenty of space and are in negotiations with Curtis Lofton about a deal as this is written, but there’s a finite pool of top-tier free agents and the Bucs still have a multitude of needs. Here are three potential free agents that could make a good fit in Tampa now that the initial flurry of free agent activity has occurred.
LaRon Landry, SS (Formerly with Washington Redskins)
Landry could still be considered a top-flight free agent but questions about his health persist and in several seasons in Washington he has been more streaky than consistent. If Landry is considered top-flight at this point in his career it’s because he’s being overrated. That being said, Landry has all the tools to be an elite NFL safety and has shown flashes of it but has played in just 17 games the past two seasons. He also isn’t a ball-hawk, his game is more physical, in five season he has just four picks. But Landry could shore up the secondary, provide excellent run support and give the Bucs some piece of mind if paired with Tanard Jackson (who is a ball-hawk).
Bottom Line: The price tag on Landry might be too high, but if he’s reasonable he would be a huge upgrade over Sean Jones.
Kendall Langford, DE/DT (Formerly with Miami Dolphins)
I made a case once for Langford’s old teammate Paul Soliai, though that move would result in a massive paradigm shift for the Bucs’ defense. Kendall Langford is a much better fit for what the Bucs are currently doing in their 4-3 alignment. Langford is a 6’6 295 lb combo D-lineman. He’s just 26 out of Howard and his diversity would be an asset to the Bucs. Langford can play outside on the end, he can shift inside if need be, he holds the point of attack well and if given a single-team opportunity he can apply solid pressure. Throw out Langford’s stats in Miami, he was 3-4 end and in that defense he was not being highlighted as a pass-rusher. But bear in mind he also started on a unit that was 3rd in run defense last year. Langford may have a high price-tag, but if not he would make the Buccaneer defense instantly better.
Bottom Line: If Langford is affordable, he could come to Tampa and start at three different positions along the Bucs defensive line.
Martellus Bennett, TE (Formerly with Dallas)
Bennett has a tie to Tampa already, his older brother Michael is one of the Bucs defensive ends, the two played together at Texas A&M before Bennett was drafted in the second round by Dallas. At 6’6, 270 Bennett is a big, talented tight end that never got a ton of opportunities in Dallas behind Jason Witten. Now, there are some flaws in Bennett’s game, but he has solid potential, a prototype NFL body and would immediately provide good depth. There are some questions at tight end for the Bucs, and even if they keep both Luke Stocker and Kellen Winslow, both struggle with injuries so the depth would be just as invaluable.
Bottom Line: Bennett could come in and be a solid second tight end that could block a little and make a serviceable receiver in goal-line situations and over the middle in two tight end sets.
Update: Bennett was signed to a one-year deal by the New York Giants at 4 PM on 3/14/12.