Most NFL general managers talk about building through the draft and seeking value in free agency. So it should come as no surprise that the new man in charge of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front office repeated those same ideals during his introductory press conference.
The difference for Jason Licht as opposed to many other new GM’s? Licht has spent a large part of his career working with teams that effectively built through the draft and signed value free agents.
So let’s take Licht at his word and consider some of the value picks that Buccaneer fans might see in red and pewter next year. The following players are free agents according to Rotoworld’s list of 2014 free agents, but things can change between now and the start of free agency.
Quarterback Josh McCown
If McCown wants to continue his NFL career but move to a new set of scenery to ride off into the sunset, there may not be a better place than Tampa. McCown won’t come at a high price, nor will he command a long contract. McCown would be an excellent teacher for Mike Glennon, and he’d also be formidable competition for the second-year NC State product.
Kick Returner/Wide Receiver Marc Mariani
The Buccaneers’ training staff does not shy away from players with injury histories, so Mariani’s main concern would likely be less daunting for the Bucs. The former Montana star has been a dynamic special teams contributor when healthy during his NFL career, but he’s suffered a pair of major injuries in recent seasons. If he’s healthy, however, he could be a cheap spark for the Bucs on offense and special teams.
Tight End Ben Hartsock
No tight end had a higher run blocking grade (according to Pro Football Focus) than Hartsock, who helped pave the way for the powerful running game in Carolina. Hartsock is not a receiving threat at all, but with Tim Wright and Tom Crabtree to handle those duties, Hartsock might be a nice addition to the power running game Jeff Tedford has discussed.
Guard Mike Pollak
Pollak overcame injury issues to work his way into a role on the Cincinnati offensive line late in the 2013 season, and he performed well when given the chance. He’s a former second-round pick who has played center and guard and was a starter for the Colts before a failed move to Carolina and a half of a season as a contributor in Cincy.
Defensive End Robert Ayers
Jared Allen, Greg Hardy and Justin Tuck are the big names at defensive end, but Ayers is a respectable option who will come with a smaller pricetag. Ayers wasn’t a full-time player with the Broncos this season, but he’s a solid run defender who also chipped in his fair share of QB pressure.