The NFL playoffs are in full swing, as the Chiefs and Patriots tangle at 4:35 PM on Saturday afternoon. Jason Licht, however, is already thinking ahead to 2016. The Buccaneers have some holes, and free agency is an effective way to fill them quickly. Here are two Patriots that Licht might target to help fill those holes.
In one week either the Chiefs or Patriots will be playing for the right to represent the AFC in the 50th NFL Super Bowl. In three months, any number of players will be vying for contracts and paydays as they decide to stay with their current team, or leave for greener pastures. The New England Patriots players are no different, and while the Patriots possess a few former Buccaneers on their roster, some of their current players could be future Bucs as well. Here are two to watch on Saturday:
S, Tavon Wilson:
Wilson is a fourth year safety originally drafted by the Patriots in the 2nd round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Since then he’s been relegated to back up and special-teams duties as Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung have manned the deep routes for the Patriots’ defense.
Wilson’s best season of his short career is easily his rookie season where he racked up 41 tackles and four interceptions.
Since then, he’s faded into the realm of special teams specialist, but has developed into a respected player who still looks like he has the potential to impact a team looking for secondary help.
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Wilson played just 83 snaps on defense this season, compared to 465 his rookie season. It’s clear, if Wilson wants to find his way back on the field he will most likely need a change of scenery. Tampa could be just the scenery he needs.
It’s no secret the Buccaneers need safety help, and they could use some help coming out of a Super Bowl caliber system. After starting undrafted free agent Jude Adjei-Barimah, and 4th round draft pick Kwon Alexander, the Buccaneers are no strangers to starting motivated players with the drive to succeed.
If Wilson comes to the Bucs, he may just get his chance to prove he can start long term.
CB, Justin Coleman:
Coleman is an interesting prospect. Undrafted out of Tennessee in 2015, Coleman originally signed with the Vikings before finding his way to the Patriots.
Heading into the draft, many experts projected Coleman as a 5-6th round pick and cited his physical brand of play as a plus for the NFL. He also showed good ability to watch the quarterback while tracking his assignment during his SEC days, and is skilled in reading the trajectory of the ball.
Coleman played on 299 defensive snaps this season which is second highest behind Duron Harmon among all of the Patriots’ secondary backups. In these opportunities, Coleman turned in 21 tackles and five passes defended.
With the Buccaneers set at none of their cornerback positions, Coleman could be a potential find at the nickel back position who can use his aggressiveness to help bolster a defense which was plain soft at times.
Coleman also brings special teams talent with him, and is known as a sure tackler who contains well on kick-off coverage.
Wilson and Coleman may not be the big name signings some fans may be craving. However, they both possess the aggressiveness and championship pedigree to be consistent contributors to help boost a secondary that gave up 31 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 yards to opposing quarterbacks in 2015.