Buccaneers: Predicting the future of the 2018 free agents

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Dirk Koetter watches a play agianst the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Head coach Dirk Koetter watches a play agianst the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 24, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Heading into the 2017 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 16 unrestricted free agents who will be on the last year of their contracts. Who returns next year?

The Buccaneers still have one of the youngest rosters in the league, and with such a talented group of youth along with great success in the draft the Bucs are finally in a position where they can choose to let talented players walk. Now with the 2017 NFL season just around the bend, of the current roster, 16 unrestricted free agents are going into their final years on their respected contracts.

Who steps up? Who makes some money? Who sees their last days in Tampa Bay?

Here we dive into just who these 16 unrestricted free agents are and a prediction on whether or not they will make it back to the team next season.

Starting with the offense.


Evan Smith – 31 – Offensive Line

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 34 – Quarterback

Ryan Griffin – 27 – Quarterback

Nick Folk – 32 – Kicker

Luke Stocker – 29 – Tight end

Garrison Sanborn – 31 – Long-snapper

Charles Sims – 26 – Running back

Josh Huff – 25 – Wide receiver

Kevin Pamphile – 26 – Offensive line

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With a total of nine unrestricted free agents across the offense, and with an infusion of youth, many of the names seen above may be without a roster spot come season.

To begin the biggest name on the list happens to be left guard Kevin Pamphile. After being drafted in the fifth round back in 2014, Pamphile has seen his days go from Swiss army knife to full-time starter. This past season the Bucs went out to grab J.R. Sweezy in free agency, but luckily for Pamphile, Sweezy’s back injury pushed his debut in Tampa to the 2017 season. Now with Pamphile solidified as a starter on the offensive line, expect the Bucs to pay generously for his consistency and versatility come 2018.

Another big name on this list happens to be Charles Sims, the receiving back who is still trying to prove himself in the league. Outside of his talented hands, Sims has struggled to show any real potential in the run game during his few years in the Bay. Due to the fact that Tampa has now drafted a running back similar to Sims this off-season, Sims is seen as trade bait for needy teams. If Sims is unable to prove himself before the return of Doug Martin in the 2017 season, he may not find himself on the 53 man roster this year let alone next.

Besides Sims and Pamphile, many of the names listed above (only two starters) may be finding a new team come next season. The up and coming talented youth in the Bucs organization is beginning to let the team move freely during the off-season. Although veterans are an essential aspect of any NFL roster, the rest of the players on this list need to prove they belong another year in the Bay with a successful season before General Manager Jason Licht bats an eye.

Prediction: Pamphile, Sanborn, Folk return.


Brent Grimes – 34 – Cornerback

Clinton McDonald – 30 – Defensive tackle

George Johnson Jr. – 29 – Defensive end

Jacquies Smith – 27- Defensive end

Sealver Siliga – 28 – Defensive tackle

Keith Tandy – 28 – Free safety

Robert McClain – 28 – Cornerback

As far as defense goes, the Bucs have the possibility of losing some of the best depth players they have on their roster. By taking a look at the list above, it is now known that Tampa may have an issue on their hands. With the defense just beginning to turn the corner, there is a need for consistency so that players can continue to grow in Defensive Coordinators Mike Smith‘s system.

The biggest name on this defensive list, and this entire  list of unrestricted free agents in general, is Brent Grimes. Grimes, who was talked out of retirement just this past season, will be entering his final year in the Bay area based upon his current contract situation. The expectation as of now is that Grimes may pull the plug on his NFL career after this upcoming season. If the Bucs are able to make a push in the playoffs for the Lombardi trophy, or even Grimes continues his success on the outside of the defense, Licht may be able to convince him for one more season. Nevertheless, Buc fans should get use to the thought of Grimes moving on in his life. The ageless wonder that Grimes is, is still one of the best corners in the game but with the thought of retirement in his head… it is only a matter of time.

Beyond Grimes, free safety Keith Tandy is a name to watch this season. After emerging as one of the best players on this Bucs defense this past season, Tandy is in a contract year with much to prove. After Tampa drafted Justin Evans out of Texas A&M this off-season, it is expected that Evans will take over as the team’s starting free safety. In essence, Tandy is expected to be the Bucs’ starting strong safety for this upcoming season. If Tandy is able to have another year of stellar play while holding off players such as Chris Conte and J.J. Wilcox, Tampa may be able to throw the once reserve a nice contract.

Out of the seven names listed above, each one of these players has the talent an opportunity to make an impact this upcoming season. Not to mention, if these players ARE able to make an impact during a contract season this defense will reach an entire new level.

Next: Buccaneers: Front seven ranked 22nd in the NFL by Pro Football Focus

Prediction: Tandy, McDonald, McClain return.

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