Bucs Rumors: A pair of Top 10 free agents are likely leaving
By Josh Hill
A recent ranking by The Athletic awarded the Bucs two Top 10 free agents, making their likely departures even more depressing.
Update [5:25 pm ET] – So, lol to the Jamel Dean part of this piece. Despite how unlikely it seemed, the Bucs pulled off an absolute stunner and re-signed Dean to a 4-year, $52M deal on Monday. Few times have I been more happy to be wrong than right now. Rejoice!
[Original piece beings here]
With NFL free agency officially here, push has finally come to shove in Tampa Bay. All of the talk about painful moves that need to be made to help the team navigate its tricky salary cap situation are coming to fruition and fans are being forced to wrestle with an uncertain future.
More immediately, moves that have been rumored to be happening to key players are now being made and everyone is bracing for what happens next.
Two of those players appear to be top targets on the open market for teams that aren’t in dire need of shedding over $50 million in cap space.
In The Athletic’s epic ranking of the best free agents this offseason, the Buccaneers have two players who rank inside of the Top 10.
- Jamel Dean – No. 9
- Lavonte David – No. 10
Dean ranking among the best free agents in this class isn’t very surprising. As the rest of the NFL looked at his value, the price tag attached to him started to grow exponentially to the point the Bucs have essentially been priced out of bringing him back.
There’s a case to be made that he wouldn’t come back at all, given how he was used last season and routinely scapegoated by Todd Bowles. Whether this was tough love or bad management, the price is Dean finding work elsewhere in the league.
Losing Dean is a blow, but the idea of Lavonte David leaving the Bucs is heartbreaking. Adding to that the fact that he’s being ranked as a top free agent makes it even harder to stomach a future where No. 54 isn’t anchoring the defense and calling the shots.
David has been everything the Bucs, for long stretches of his career, didn’t deserve out of a star player. He’s been nothing but a consummate leader in the locker room and the community, and is probably the next Buccaneers player to get a bust in Canton after Ronde Barber is inducted this year.
He’s still playing at an incredibly high level, too. If the Bucs weren’t in such a salary cap crunch having to finally pay for the Tom Brady years, there’s no doubt that David would be at the top of the team’s list of players to re-sign.
The situation the team is in makes his departure even more depressing, as it’s less a case of David not being needed in Tampa Bay and more the team has been backed into a corner and might have to let him go even though nobody — including David himself — wants to see it happen.