One Buccaneers Free Agency Target from Each AFC South Team

Tampa Bay Buccaneers headquarters in Tampa, Florida (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES / AFP) (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES/AFP via Getty Images)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers headquarters in Tampa, Florida (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES / AFP) (Photo by OCTAVIO JONES/AFP via Getty Images) /

This series of articles selecting one player from each NFL team that would make a good free agency pickup by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has finally hit its last set of divisions. Up next is the AFC South, home to a talented pool of free agents. To find out who the Buccaneers should be most interested in, just read on.

As a reminder of the rules to this exercise, 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.

With that, lets start the final division off, with the AFC South.

Previous articles: NFC East, AFC East, NFC West, AFC West, NFC North, AFC North

Jacksonville Jaguars: Andrew Norwell – G

Andrew Norwell is one of the least talked-about stars in the NFL. He started his career with the Carolina Panthers where he quickly became one of the best linemen in the league. After his rookie deal ended in Carolina, Norwell was shipped to Jacksonville where he continued to dominate in the trenches for the oft-beleaguered franchise.

But despite his lack of notoriety, most likely because the Panthers and Jaguars don’t exactly have the ear of the media machine, Norwell is one of the best players in football. The Buccaneers, of course, have a glaring need at guard.

Even with Ryan Jensen coming back to the fold, and Aaron Stinnie signing a deal to keep him around next year, the Bucs are set to be without both of their starting guards from last year. Ali Marpet via shocking retirement and Alex Cappa to the OL-needy Bengals. Stinnie replaces one of them, and Norwell is the rare talent that could live up to their skill level.

Over his 8 years in football, Andrew Norwell has never earned a PFF grade of less than 65.5, and actually has more years of a 70+ grade than not (2014-2018). The Jaguars, it seems, are likely going to let him test the market.

Their team is so full of holes that replacing veterans with rookies in a deep OL draft is the best way to stretch their money. The Buccaneers should take full advantage of this and go after the pass-blocking extraordinaire.

Houston Texans: Desmond King – CB

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ability to keep Carlton Davis in the building was tremendous. But they could still use another great corner on the other side of the field. Desmond King is a good pickup for a still CB-needy Bucs team.

King, like many players on this list, has had a poor last couple of seasons. But not too long ago, King was maybe the best CB in all the league. In 2018 and 2018, King was graded at 85.7 and 90.5 respectively – truly elite in the eyes of Pro Football Focus. Even his next season, in 2019, was graded at a 70.9 which is very good. However, his last two seasons have seen a large drop off both times, from 65.5 in 2020 to a meager 58.3 this past year.

But with the Buccaneers’ incredible coaching staff and winning culture with Tom Brady back in the building, it is more than possible to return Desmond King back to his elite form. And a player asking for low money but having the capability to become elite is the right person for a cash-strapped Buccaneers free agency move.

Indianapolis Colts: Marlon Mack – RB

I’m hearing the anger of the anti-RB crowd now. “Don’t give RBs a second contract!” And they’re right, mostly. What’s more fair is the saying, “Don’t give RBs a big second contract.” But Marlon Mack wouldn’t be asking for a big contract. In fact, he’s probably just hoping to even make a roster in 2022.

And there is good reason for that – he has played only 7 games in the last two years due to injury and the presence of Jonathan Taylor. But three years ago, Mack was the breakout darling of football, coming out o nowhere to post almost 1200 scrimmage yards and 8 TDs in 12 starts.

If Mack is returned from his injured seasons, he could provide a solid option in the backfield for a potentially RB hungry group in Tampa Bay. And for as incredibly cheap as he would be, that’s a good deal.

Tennessee Titans: Jayon Brown – ILB

Jayon Brown fits the mold of so many players that should be on the Buccaneers’ radar at the moment. Former stars with a few bad years under their belt recently, whose teams are likely kicking them to the curb rather than overpaying them for past production. But the Bucs have to take what they can get at this point. While they go all-in elsewhere in the lineup, Brown would at least provide some assurances for the future without Lavonte David.

At his worst, Brown is a placeholder LB that can provide situational value for cheap. But at his best, Brown has proven himself more than capable of taking over games with elite play. PFF graded him at just 51.2 last season – by far the worst grade of his career. That’s Brown at his worst. But the previous three years, grading in at 81.2, 71.6, and 66.3, provide a larger sample size for what his play typically is.

As an undervalued talent with plenty of years left in the NFL, why not snap him up?

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