The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face an important offseason in 2014, as a new coach and general manager set out to turn the team around after a string of losing seasons under the previous two coaches. So who will Lovie Smith and Jason Licht bring in to bolster their team and get the Buccaneers back into the playoffs?
Even though it’s only February, we’re less than a month from the start of the pre-free agency period when teams can begin to talk to players and agents. So before that kicks off, here are my early thoughts on what the Buccaneers offseason could look like.
Gerald McCoy, Five years, $12 million average, 30 million guaranteed.
Davin Joseph, Reduce salary to $1.75 million per year average, no guarantees.
Erik Lorig (All players re-signed to reasonable, 1-2 year deals for the minimum, or slightly above.)
QB Kellen Clemens, 2 years, $3.5 million total
WR Seyi Ajirotutu, 1 year, $900,000 total.
TE Ben Hartsock, 2 years, $2 million total
G Jon Asamoah, 4 years, $12 million total
T J’Marcus Webb, 1 year, $800,000 total
DE Corey Wootton, 4 years, $9 million total
DT Peria Jerry, 2 years, $2 million total
DT Fred Evans, 1 year, $850,00 total
LB Akeem Jordan, 2 years, $2 million
CB Drayton Florence, 1 year, $1.5 million total
S Darian Stewart, 1 year, $800,000 total
1st Round: Khalil Mack, LB/DE, Buffalo
2nd Round: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
4th Round: Chris Davis, CB, Auburn
5th Round: Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
7th Round: Jeremiah George, ILB, Iowa State
7th Round Compensatory Pick or Priority Undrafted Free Agent: Steven Clark, Punter, Auburn
Extending Gerald McCoy is the story of the offseason, as the Buccaneers must do what they can to keep McCoy around for the long haul. He’s arguably the best at his position in the NFL, and deserves a hefty contract and the role as the centerpiece of the franchise.
While they don’t need to free up any money, the Buccaneers make a couple of money-minded moves in this mock offseason, re-working Davin Joseph’s deal to fall more in line with his present value, while also letting go of overpaid punter Michael Koenen.
The Bucs also bring back a few key role players on cheap contracts to maintain depth and special teams coverage ability. Dekoda Watson and Jonathan Casillas return mainly for their special teams prowess, but also for depth at linebacker.
The team doesn’t make any big splashes in free agency, opting to make some depth-building moves instead. The biggest addition is wide receiver and return man Dexter McCluster, who provides an instant impact as a third receiver and a special teams ace. The only other “big” signings are defensive end/defensive tackle hybrid Corey Wootton and guard Jon Asamoah, who will take over for Davin Joseph or Carl Nicks, depending on Nicks’ health.
The rest of the free agent moves shore up weak positions on the depth chart, with Drayton Florence proving to be the biggest name among them. Florence steps in to play nickel corner and help take pressure off of Johnthan Banks.
And of course, the Buccaneers add an experienced, veteran quarterback in Kellen Clemens who wasn’t awful last season for the Rams and provides an upgrade over Dan Orlovsky as the emergency plan at QB.
In the draft, the Buccaneers add Khalil Mack with the thought of either turning him into a defensive end, or using him in a hybrid role. They follow up the pick by adding Brandin Cooks, who provides a ton of speed and playmaking ability at wide receiver.
Chris Davis helps solidify the depth chart at corner as an undersized but capable cover corner. Brett Smith provides a project quarterback for Jeff Tedford to work with and develop while Glennon and Clemens compete for the starting job.
Jeremiah George is a productive middle linebacker who can backup Mason Foster and provide a slightly different skillset from Mason, while Steven Clark replaces Koenen as the punter.
What do you think of these picks? Who would you like to see the Buccaneers target? Leave a comment below and let us know.