Buccaneers trade Carlton Davis III to Lions: Full details and grade

After popping up in rumors, the Buccaneers have officially traded Carlton Davis III

NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions
NFC Divisional Playoffs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

It's been a busy first day free agency, but it's not just agreements on deals that are getting tossed around. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers mostly focused on retaining their own players -- bringing back Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans -- and have mostly stayed away from adding outside help.

Antoine Winfield Jr. was another big name the Bucs were able to hold onto as he's expected to. He's easily the best defensive player the team has and was arguably the most valuable player on Tampa Bay's roster. When he returns, he'll be down at least one teammate in the secondary as Carlton Davis III won't be in the mix after getting traded away on Monday afternoon.

Davis had popped up in trade rumors recently, but it was unclear just how motivated the Bucs were to trading him. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Bucs are trading Davis to the Detroit Lions and the return makes it clear why Jason Licht pulled the deal off.

Buccaneers trade Carlton Davis III to Lions: Full details and grade

Tampa Bay will be getting a third round pick in this year's draft back for Davis.

Carlton Davis III

In addition to Davis, the Bucs are sending consecutive sixth round picks back to Detroit. Tampa Bay was awarded an extra sixth round comp pick this year, so they'll still have a selection in that round assuming they don't trade it away as well.

The big takeaway here is the loss of Davis, who was a top cornerback for the Bucs until he wasn't. Last year was rough for him, as he battled through poor play and injuries that will serve as an unpleasant farewell season despite playing otherwise great in previous years. Davis missed 16 games over the last three seasons due to injury, but when healthy he's capable of being a top cornerback in the league.

Davis was a big part of helping the Bucs secondary pull itself out of the Dark Ages of the 2010s, and was one of Jason Licht's masterful draft classes over the last decade. He was a second round pick back in 2018 and was a key part of Tampa Bay's Super Bowl-winning defense two years later.

Now, after one of his worst seasons as a pro, he'll try to reinvent himself in Detroit's defense. It's a win-win, as the Bucs also save $6 million in cap space in addition to getting that valuable third round pick. Tampa Bay will also save $8 million next year by trading Davis, as the team was able to move off his $14 million contract entirely.

What the Bucs do with that third round pick is the next big question. Tampa Bay now has four picks in the first three rounds and plenty of ways to use them. Offensive line help is near the top of the list, and with how expensive the market in free agency has been for interior lineman it's likely that the Bucs use a few of these picks to improve there.

Replacing Davis is also now a need, as the Bucs were already sort of thin at cornerback and are now down one of their top guys. Clearing $6 million in cap space and based on the way Mike Evans' deal is backloaded, we could see Tampa Bay wade into free agency waters in the coming days.

Grade: B

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