One Buccaneers Free Agency Target from Each AFC East Team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With half of the divisions already covered, this series of articles detailing one player from each NFL team that the Buccaneers should make an offer for is picking up steam. Up next is the AFC East, a division that seems to have gone from one dominant team in the Patriots dynasty to another in Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

But despite the clear top dog there, all the teams have playmakers that could hit free agency. As a refresher on the rule of this exercise, to avoid repetition in the choices only one member of each position group has been chosen per division. This means that if, for example, someone like Allen Robinson appears on the list then Davante Adams could not, because they play the same position and share the same division.

Previous Articles: NFC West, AFC West, NFC North, AFC North

New York Jets: Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff – G

Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff falls squarely into the category of “good player who has underperformed in recent years, and now can be acquired for less money than they’re probably worth”.

For his first four years in the league, Duvernay-Tardiff was on track to become a very good player. He had an average PFF grade of 67.7 over that span, from 2015-2018, which is quite good. Then, a dropoff in 2019, followed by an injured season, followed by another disappointing year, has him basically forgotten in NFL circles.

And yet, with a coaching staff of such high quality as the Buccaneers have, it is worth it to take risks on players with high upside. Especially at a position of need, which guard absolutely is for the Bucs.

Especially as the impact of Chris Godwin’s franchise tag has limited the Buccaneers’ cap space, a cheap offensive lineman with upside is likely as good as its going to get.

Miami Dolphins: Will Fuller – WR

It wasn’t that long ago that Will Fuller was emerging as a very good receiver in the NFL. Just two years ago, Fuller racked up 879 yards and 8 TDs in just 11 games before a suspension ended his season. Then, after a trade to Miami, he was injured for the duration of this past year.

The Buccaneers are currently without a good WR3. Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden, Tyler Johnson, Breshad Perriman, and Cyril Grayson have all shown occasional flashes of potential, but have been liabilities far more often than not.

As the Bucs look to make their offense as friendly to the QB as possible, adding another excellent receiver to the pass-heavy mix would be a very solid acquisition. What’s more, Fuller’s recent history has likely driven his price down – especially given how much other help the Dolphins need to be competitive.

Depending on the contract, Will Fuller could be a very good addition to the Leftwich and Arians show.

New England Patriots: J.C. Jackson – CB

One of the few true superstars to grace this list is J.C. Jackson, whose play in New England has been nothing short of stellar in his four years in the league. That’s right, not only is Jackson one of the NFL’s best corners, and one of the best defensive players in general, he is also only 26 years old.

His average PFF grade is a staggering 73.1, with this last season accounting for a 82.7 grade. Now sure, Jackson will demand absolute top-dollar for his services, but the salary cap is flexible and the Buccaneers have enough spots filled on their roster to afford a big free agent signing. And nothing would ease the sting of letting a top-15 CB in Carlton Davis sign elsewhere like signing a true top-3 CB as a replacement.

Not to mention the immense benefit to having a lockdown CB in the Bowles defensive system. With great secondary play, the Tampa Bay front seven has literally been constructed to pressure the passer and win games.

So not only would Jackson be able to lock down most receivers in football, he would also make everyone else better just by being there. That would be money well spent for Tampa Bay.

Buffalo Bills: Mitchell Trubisky – QB

Hey, if you’re going to miss out on the best QBs available in free agency, why not chase the highest upside available? Trubisky has that upside, even if his downside has taken mostly center stage during his time in the NFL.

Worth noting, though, is that the bad parts of Mitchell Trubisky’s play occurred under some truly terrible coaches. The last year of John Fox’s tenure and three seasons with Matt Nagy isn’t exactly a recipe for QB growth or opportunity. And we saw some very good flashes of potential from Trubisky in this last season with the opportunity to learn from Sean McDermott and Josh Allen in Buffalo.

It would be based on those flashes that Trubisky hopes for a contract, and the upside is high enough that the Buccaneers should at least consider it. At his best, Trubisky is a tough passer with sky- high athleticism and a big arm. And paired with self-proclaimed “Quarterback Whisperer” Bruce Arians, that raw talent could be shaped into something special for the Bucs. But, fundamentally, anything is better than watching a season of Blaine Gabbert.

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