3 offensive linemen Buccaneers need to target in Free Agency

Starting March 13, the Buccaneers will be able to upgrade their offensive line with the potential addition of these three free agents offensive linemen

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After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed legendary wide receiver Mike Evans to a two-year, $52 million contract on Monday, the team has begun checking off its top obligations in free agency.

There's still work to be done, though. Free agency officially begins on March 13, and contract extensions for star quarterback Baker Mayfield and superstar safety Antoine Winfield Jr. are expected to follow in the coming days.

The Bucs have an estimated $36.3 million in salary cap space, pending the contracts of Mayfield and Winfield Jr., and will need to soon shift focus to improving other areas of the roster. One unit that stands out is the offensive line, which badly needs to be upgraded.

Outside of three-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro left tackle Tristan Wirfs, Tampa Bay's offensive line may experience a complete makeover this offseason. Between Wirfs, left guard Cody Mauch, center Robert Hainsey, right guard Aaron Stinnie, and right tackle Luke Goedeke, the Buccaneers gave up 40 sacks, the 13th fewest in the NFL.

In addition, the Buccaneers' offensive line gave Mayfield 2.4 seconds in the pocket, and allowed 112 pressures, 37 hurries and 35 hits. While there are a number of worse offensive lines in the NFL, Tampa Bay should use their cap space to capitalize on a deep offensive line class in free agency for the 2024 season.

Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys

Since being drafted with the No. 9 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Smith has consistently remained one of the league's top tackles. In his 12-year tenure, Smith has started in all 161 career games played and has totaled 9,369 snaps at left tackle, the most of any player in the NFL dating back to 2012.

While serving as the Cowboy's constant cornerstone on the offensive line, Smith's discipline and high football IQ have shown time and time again. To clarify, Smith has committed just 80 total penalties in his 9,369 snaps, and committed seven or fewer penalties in eight of 12 seasons. This season, Smith earned an 88.6 pass-blocking grade for PFF, the highest in the NFL among offensive linemen to play 100 or more snaps.

For reference, Smith has earned a multitude of NFL honors as a dominant force on Dallas' offensive line. Following the 2023 season, Smith has earned eight Pro Bowl selections and two selections to the NFL's All-Pro First Team, in addition to being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-Decade Teams in the 2010s.

At 33 years old, Smith's play and availability have declined considerably, with Smith playing in just 28 of 68 games from 2020-2023. Smith's lack of play is in part to lingering injuries sustained, as a neck issue in 2020 and a torn hamstring in 2022 cost Smith to miss 28 combined games between the two seasons.

As a result of Smith's injury history, age, and price, it's "unlikely that Smith will return to Dallas in 2024 as a pending free agent, according to NFL Media.

“No one thinks more of Tyron Smith than us. He’s a Hall of Famer all the way," said Jerry Jones, the Cowboys' president, owner and general manager. "We’ll certainly be sitting down with him to see what it looks like for him to stay here.”

On Monday, reports surfaced that New England is expected to pursue Smith in free agency to bolster their offensive line., with an expected contract of $7.2 million, per Sportrac. With a subpar performance from last year's offensive line, Smith would be an excellent addition for the Buccaneers in 2024.