Free agency is going to be a crazy time for the Buccaneers. See, the Bucs have plenty of needs to address that can’t all be taken care of in the draft. When the draft is such an unknown commodity – especially when so much is based off of what other teams are doing – you have to address needs where you can his free agents.
The other fine line the Bucs have to walk is their cap space. Yes, they currently sit with the fifth most cap space in the NFL, but as I’ve talked about so many times they have a lot of players of their own to re-sign. Jameis Winston, Kwon Alexander, Ali Marpet, Mike Evans, Donovan Smith. This is going to cost a lot of money and the Bucs will need that rollover to help them accomplish these extensions, so they can’t go full speed ahead and sign every free agent out there.
All that said, here are my three bold predictions:
1) The Bucs won’t sign any “top tier” free agents
For the reason I just stayed above, I think we are in for a lot of sigkings, but they won’t be the big names fans are pining for. No Ziggy Ansah, no Trumaine Johnson, none of the big names. They’ll look to guys like Justin Bethel, Dion Lewis, and the return of Clinton McDonald. They will pursue mid-tier, productive players they can sign to short term, low cost contracts.
2) The Bucs will make a trade
I suggested the Buccaneers may be smart to move Cam Brate given his impending contract situation and the internet hated me for a solid 72 hours. I’m not saying this is the deal that will happen, but don’t be surprised to see the Bucs move a guy to gain an extra pick or two in this year’s draft to help fill needs. Not to mention, the rookie salary cap is going to be Jason Licht’s best friend.
3) The Mike Evans deal will get done
During the free agent frenzy, the Mike Evans extension will be finalized. It will help them structure other deals knowing what they will have tied up in their star receiver for the next five-plus seasons. It’s better for the Buccaneers to get Evans signed as early as possible before Odell Beckham Jr signs his deal. Otherwise, the Bucs may end up with the highest paid receiver and quarterback in the NFL at the same time – not a good look when you haven’t even made the playoffs yet.