New Tampa Bay Buccaneers GM Jason Licht wasted absolutely no time in making his first moves as the leader of the Bucs front office and revamping his roster, adding five players, re-signing a few more, and letting go of three veterans.
But now that the initial free agent frenzy has died down, where do the Buccaneers stand, and what comes next for the formerly 4-12 football team?
Here’s an updated look at the team’s needs for the remainder of free agency and the NFL Draft.
Right guard or center – The Buccaneers let go of veteran right guard Davin Joseph, and that position remains unfilled as of the writing of this article. Jamon Meredith could play the position if no better alternative is found, but Meredith isn’t the ideal starter at right guard for this new regime.
Look for the Buccaneers to either sign a center or guard before free agency ends, or possibly address this position through the draft, even as early as the second round. The Bucs have the option of adding a center instead of a right guard due to Jeremy Zuttah’s versatility.
Slot receiver – Tiquan Underwood and Eric Page are not the answer as the third receiver for the Buccaneers, so look for them to add another wideout to play alongside the underrated Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
This is yet another position that can be addressed via free agency, the draft, or both. There is no shortage of options at wideout this summer.
Nickel corner – The Buccaneers cannot enter another season thin at the cornerback position. Danny Gorrer and Leonard Johnson are capable depth players, but neither should be relied upon for the 500-700 snaps required of a modern nickel corner in the NFL.
The Bucs really need to address this position in free agency, as rookie corners don’t usually transition well into the NFL, especially mid-to-late round corners.
Backup guard – With Carl Nicks’ health in question, and uncertainty as to who will actually be the right guard, getting a backup who can play right or left guard is almost a “must have” before the season starts. The Bucs can’t risk a situation like last season, where a parade of sub-par options attempt to hold down the fort at left guard.
Would Be Nice To Have
Dual-threat tight end – And by dual threat, I mean blocking and catching. Tim Wright and Brandon Myers are both pure receiving tight ends with minimal blocking talent. And while that’s good enough to go into a season with, the team could use a true, in-line tight end who can hold his own as a blocker.
This may be a draft addition, as there are no standouts in this area available on the free agent market.
Linebacker depth – This is only a “Would Be Nice” need as it shouldn’t be a huge priority for the Bucs, who have three capable starters already in tact. They obviously must field a couple of backups to make a complete roster, but who they are won’t make much of a difference.
The main focus for these players should be special teams ability, as there’s not a huge need for competition at the three linebacker spots, except for…
Middle linebacker competition – The Bucs could still choose to put some heat on current MLB Mason Foster by bringing in someone to compete for the position this summer. He’s more than capable of playing SLB if asked, so if the Bucs can draft a MLB (or somehow find a free agent worthy of starting), it would increase the depth at linebacker while also improving the unit’s coverage ability by moving Mason outside.
Not a Pressing Issue
Safety Depth – Keith Tandy is an okay backup, but the Bucs could use another backup at safety.
Fullback – Erik Lorig remains available, and it’s not even clear if Jeff Tedford will use a fullback. There are more fullbacks than teams who need fullbacks, so this will be an easy fix.
Backup nose tackle – The Buccaneers will be happy to have Akeem Spence back, but they could use another undertackle candidate, as they already have a pair of 3-techniques in Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald.
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