Buccaneers Round Table: Three free-agency predictions

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 26: Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes a catch in front of Robert Alford #23 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 26: Mike Evans #13 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers makes a catch in front of Robert Alford #23 of the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on November 26, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
4 of 6

Jerry Stalheim

The start of free agency is a welcoming sight for all Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans who not experienced football for two and half months (since week 17), and it is a chance to add to a team that has not made the playoffs since 2007 in hope of finally getting over the hump.

With the regular needs of running back, defensive end, and cornerback high on the list of team needs for the Buccaneers especially with the release of Doug Martin and Chris Baker making defensive tackle also a need.

So let’s play a little game of “… Predicting the Fuutuure….” and try to guess three free agent players that I think the Buccaneers will sign when free agency begins in March.  Now a dream scenario would be Le’Veon Bell, DeMarcus Lawrence, and … Ziggy Ansah but do I really think any of those are going to happen? … probably not, Bell, Lawrence and maybe Ansah will all be franchised.

So what realistically may happen is that the Buccaneers will try to be aggressive in signing a defensive end as the Buccaneers had just 22 sacks last season, and because another bad season for the team could be the end of road for Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht.  Once top defensive ends like DeMarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah are franchised there is not a lot left in free agency in free agency and the Buccaneers will have to settle.  

Options at defensive end could be a familiar player from new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner’s past in Alex Okafor.  Who in five seasons has a season high of eight sacks and a career total of eighteen but has never played a full season.  Kony Ealy could be another option but he has only fifteen sacks in four season and has never been a full time starter.  Aaron Lynch from the 49ers could also be an option but has only started nineteen games with fifteen sacks and has struggled to stay healthy.

Prediction:  Big boys are franchised/resigned, Buccaneers sign Alex Okafor and hope to find a couple more in the draft.

More from The Pewter Plank

The run game for the Buccaneers has been awful the last few season and came to a head with the release of former first round pick Doug Martin this week, and the Buccaneers now do not have a clear cut option but there are a few choices in free agency that could fill the role.  Le’Veon Bell will most likely be franchised so he is out of the picture, but there are other options such as Isaiah Crowell who at just 25 years old has 3118 yards rushing on 737 carries (4.2 yard/carry) with 21 rushing touchdowns and 96 catches for 770 yards in his four seasons.  Another option is 26-year-old Carlos Hyde with 2729 rushing yards on 655 carries (4.2 yard/carry) with 21 rushing touchdowns and 109 catches for 634 yards in just four season.  Also Dion Lewis from New England is an option with 1584 (896 last season) rushing yards on 329 (180 last season) carries (4.8 yard/carry) with ten rushing touchdowns and 88 catches for 717 yards in five seasons.  

With just two backs on the roster the Buccaneers will most likely draft a back as well as sign one in free agency and I don’t think the will wait until the fifth round this time.

Prediction:  The Buccaneers sign Carlos Hyde.

Cornerback is another major position of need for the Buccaneers with top corner Brent Grimes a free agent and deciding on whether or not he will retire, and also having the worst pass defense in the NFL last season.  Vernon Hargreaves and Ryan Smith are the only starting corners currently on the team, so again the Buccaneers will most likely sign a corner in free agency or two and draft one.  

There are several options at young starting corners in free agency such as former first rounder Kyle Fuller who in three season with the Bears started 46 of 48 games played with 186 tackles, eight interceptions, and 41 passes defended.  Also Bashaud Breeland who in four seasons with the Redskins start 57 of 60 games played with 268 tackles, eight interceptions, and 59 passes defended.  Even Malcolm Butler who in four seasons with the Patriots started 48 of 59 games played with 209 tackles, eight interceptions, 50 passes defended, and 2 sacks.  Due to being the hero of the 2014 Super Bowl he may end up costing a bit more.  

The Buccaneers move in free agency at corner in my opinion will all depend on what Brent Grimes decides.  If he walks away they will go for the big free agent corner and probably another one and if he stays they will sign a cheaper corner, but will need to look for his replacement soon.  In either case they will be looking for a corner in the draft but free agency will decide the round that they draft that corner.

Prediction: Grimes retires, the Buccaneers sign Kyle Fuller as top corner, draft a number 2 corner, and start Hargreaves in the slot.

This off season is going to be a big deal for both the team and Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht’s futures if they find the right pieces and the team has a turnaround they will stay, and if not both of them are most likely gone then who knows what happens when a new coach and GM come in.  in that case, maybe Licht goes back to the aggressive moves that he made when he arrived BUT still finding players that are right for the “Buccaneer way”.  Either way they will be active in free agency and hopefully some of my “Dream Scenarios” do come true, but if not hopefully at least some of my predictions do and the team is better because of them.  

Either ways it’s going to be another fun off season just wish we were coming off a lengthy playoff run … but “there’s always next season” and as always … GO BUCS!!!