5 key players the Buccaneers can’t afford to let get away in free agency

There are a handful of Buccaneers set to hit free agency this offseason that the team simply can't afford to lose.

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Chase McLaughlin, K

The kicker position in Tampa Bay, particularly over the last 15 years, is enough to give most Bucs fans nightmares. It was almost undeniable for a while that there was a “kicking curse” in Tampa Bay, as almost every kicker the Bucs trotted out either got injured or simply couldn’t make a kick

Connor Barth ruptured his Achilles, and his successor, Lawrence Tynes contracted MRSA and ended his career during the infamous Greg Schiano years. Who could forget the decision to trade up for Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, who went from one of the most accurate kickers in college football history to the least accurate kicker in his rookie NFL season? Matt Gay cost the Buccaneers multiple crucial games due to missed kicks before turning his career around and becoming the league’s highest-paid kicker with the Indianapolis Colts.

All this to say, the Buccaneers have had serious trouble finding a long term answer at the kicker position — until Chase McLaughlin fell right into their lap.

The Bucs decided to move on from Ryan Succop and signed McLaughlin as a free agent last offseason, and he delivered in a major way, making 93.5% of his field goal attempts including 7-8 from 50+ yards, and 100 percent accuracy on extra points.

Unlike many kickers in recent Bucs’ history, McLaughlin has become an asset and not a liability. He is not leaving easy points on the field, and can connect consistently from long distance, taking some pressure off of the offense to drive deep into opponent territory to reach field goal range. McLaughlin is on just a one year deal, but the Buccaneers can’t allow him to leave the building and continue the endless carousel at the kicker position.

At just 27 years old, there is potential for McLaughlin to become the long term answer at kicker that the Buccaneers have long been searching for, and they need to do whatever it takes to keep him in Tampa Bay.

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