When the new NFL League Year started on Tuesday afternoon, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to start negotiating with free agents, many Buccaneer fans were hoping to hear lots of good news. We had heard rumors that the Buccaneers were interested in Sean Smith, we had heard they were likely to pursue Derek Cox, and there were plenty of rumors that Darrelle Revis could be on his way to Tampa Bay. When 4 PM on Tuesday came around, Bucs fans got the chance to enjoy the overspending of the Miami Dolphins, and feel a bit disappointed when Martellus Bennett signed with the Bears. Little did we know, this would turn into an extremely interesting free agent period.
Rumors about Darrelle Revis would begin to overshadow everything in the free agent market, as reports would surface from time to time either assuring fans of a deal being done, or completely dispelling the rumors and insisting the teams were far apart in negotiations. Dashon Goldson flew to Tampa Bay on a private jet, and didn’t leave until he signed a deal. Things were looking up, as the defensive backfield was shaping up well. As a bonus, on Wednesday, most of the free agent cornerbacks were still on the open market. The Buccaneers were sitting pretty, with all the options they needed to address all of their needs going into 2013.
But as more and more corners signed with other teams, and it became more and more obvious that the Revis trade would not happen for at least another week, concerns began to spring up. Michael Bennett signing with the Seahawks Thursday evening opened a lot of eyes, as Bucs fans began to realize that Mark Dominik is simply not looking to pay a majority of the players he was reportedly linked with. So while the Buccaneers’ front office might be tight lipped and keeping plans under wraps, fans were left with very few answers at the end of the day on Thursday. So over 50 hours into NFL Free Agency, where do the Buccaneers stand in terms of filling team needs? Let’s break it down one position at a time:
Cornerback: No progress
The Buccaneers have failed to address their need at quarterback. As it stands, only E.J. Biggers and Brent Grimes have been linked to the Bucs, despite a plethora of veteran options on the market. Mark Dominik seems focused on Darrelle Revis, but the Buccaneers do need multiple corners going into 2013’s NFL season. I’m going to have to trust Mark Dominik on this one.
Tampa Bay is set at safety for the next five years. Dashon Goldson has signed a very respectable deal to be the highest paid safety in the league, but the cap hit is reasonable and leaves plenty of room for the Buccaneers to operate. Goldson is an All-Pro and Pro Bowl calibre safety who can deliver big hits and play deep coverage extremely well. He makes the defense better in two ways, by adding his skills to free safety, and allowing Mark Barron to play closer to the line of scrimmage while teaching him the finer parts of being a star safety in the NFL.
Defensive Line: No progress
The Buccaneers need depth along the defensive line, and could use a replacement for Roy Miller (or just Roy Miller). No progress has been made, although the team has reportedly spoken with John Abraham. This is not a major concern, and the Buccaneers likely have a plan in place. The affordable deal that Michael Bennett signed with the Seahawks is certainly frustrating, but there are still plenty of options in free agency and the draft.
Linebacker: Mostly Complete
Jonathan Casillas provides a new linebacker to take the place of departing Quincy Black. They’re not the same player, as Casillas is certainly a smaller, more athletic linebacker, but with the versatility the Buccaneers posses at linebacker, his addition just means the Bucs can be creative with how they use their linebackers. This was never a huge need, and it has been addressed in a positive way. The draft will likely hold more help at linebacker for the Buccaneers.
Slot Receiver: Somewhat Complete
The Bucs signed Kevin Ogletree, who seems to be the slightest upgrade over Tiquan Underwood. If his deal is reasonable enough, the Bucs could still pursue more players to compete at this positon.
Tight End: No progress
Nothing to report here. This may be a drafted position for the Buccaneers, with such a deep draft of tight ends.
Backup Running Back: No progress
Nothing going here. LeGarrette Blount was re-signed, but is being shopped for a trade. The Bucs could still use someone to help out Doug Martin.