PewterReport.com takes an in-depth look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2011 free agents and analyzes whether or not those players should be back next year.UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
The following players have at accrued at least six years worth of experience in the NFL and will be on the unrestricted free agent market regardless of what happens between the NFL and the NFL Players Association with the new collective bargaining agreement this winter.CB Ronde Barber 2011 Outlook:
Finished with over 100 tackles and played well enough to earn a 1- or 2-year deal. Raheem Morris might want his best friend around for his playmaking and leadership skills with so many young corners on the team.Should he return?
Yes, Barber is one of the greatest Bucs in team history and is still playing a high level. He is playing too good of football to hang it up right now. MLB Barrett Ruud2011 Outlook:
Bucs want a more physical presence on defense, but Ruud’s football IQ is special. He’ll likely overprice himself in free agency and Bucs are high on Tyrone McKenzie and this will be a deep LB draft in 2011.Should he return?
No, the Bucs run defense must improve and needs a more stout run defender that won’t cost as much as Ruud. TE John Gilmore 2011 Outlook:
Blocking tight end emerged as a secret weapon on offense with 13 catches for a career-high 160 yards and one TD in 2010. Gilmore was a big reason for the Bucs’ effective ground game.Should he return?
Yes, Gilmore is a high-character, blue-collar worker that serves as a positive locker room guy as well as a good player.RB Cadillac Williams2011 Outlook:
Disappointed as a starter, but thrived as a third down back as a receiver, runner and pass protector. Williams is a team leader and proved he was more effective with fewer touches in 2010.
Should he return?
Yes, after testing free agency Williams will realize that the best deal will reside in returning to Tampa on the cheap in his current role.MLB Niko Koutouvides2011 Outlook:
Top special teams player didn’t contribute on defense and was passed on the depth chart by Adam Hayward. As an eighth-year player, Koutouvides may be too expensive to sign just for special teams.Should he return?
No, Koutouvides is a good special teams player, but the Bucs must churn the roster at the linebacker position.UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS*
The following Buccaneers have accrued at least four years of playing time in the NFL, which would make them eligible for unrestricted free agency under the previous collective bargaining agreement. Under the current system, the following players would be restricted free agents, which would give the Bucs the ability to match any offer sheets they receive from other teams and receive draft pick compensation.DE Stylez White 2011 Outlook:
Disappointing season as age (31) appears to have caught up with White, who led the team with 4.5 sacks but was demoted in favor of Michael Bennett. The Bucs must improve their pass rush next year.Should he return?
No, the Bucs must get younger and more athletic at defensive end next season and White bombed in a contract year.LB Quincy Black2011 Outlook:
Black was a playmaker for the Bucs in his second year as a starter before a broken arm cost him the last four games. The problem was that there was not much drop off when Adam Hayward replaced Black.Should he return?
Yes, but only if the price is right. Given Black’s age, production, physique and upside he might command top dollar on the open market.DE Tim Crowder2011 Outlook:
Had a good year and was productive in 2010, but needs to make more splash plays on a more consistent basis. Defensive end is the weakest spot on the roster, so good players like Crowder should stay.Should he return?
Yes, Crowder likely won’t command a huge payday and was the most complete defensive end on Tampa Bay’s roster in 2010.LB Adam Hayward2011 Outlook:
Hayward, who has been a long-time special teams ace, saw his most extensive time playing on defense in place of the injured Black and at times was as good as the player he was replacing. Should he return?
Yes, there likely won’t be a big market for Hayward because he hasn’t accomplished much on defense, but he’s an asset to Tampa Bay.RG Davin Joseph2011 Outlook:
Ended the season on injured reserve with a broken foot, which might affect his status in free agency. Bucs surprisingly didn’t have much of a drop off with Derek Hardman playing right guard down the stretch.Should he return?
Yes, he should return, but given that there will likely be a decent market for him in free agency he will be deemed too expensive to re-sign.WR Maurice Stovall2011 Outlook:
One of Tampa Bay’s top special teamers, he’s never consistently produced as a receiver. Given his size and special teams prowess, there may be a small market for him in free agency.Should he return?
Yes, with Arrelious Benn on the mend this offseason, it wouldn’t hurt to have a veteran like Stovall around if the price is right.RT Jeremy Trueblood2011 Outlook:
Trueblood lost his starting job to James Lee when he sprained his knee and was never able to reclaim it. Trueblood’s stock in free agency had to have taken a hit from that.Should he return?
No, Lee showed the Bucs he could play just as well – and without the penalties – and the Bucs have Demar Dotson, too.RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
The following Buccaneers have accrued three years of playing time in the NFL, which would not make them eligible for unrestricted free agency under both current and former collective bargaining agreement. The Bucs have the ability to match any offer sheets they receive from other teams regarding these players.K Connor Barth2011 Outlook:
By making 23-of-28 field goals (82.1 percent) in 2010, Barth proved that he was a reliable kicker and a big reason for the team’s success this year. The Bucs have struggled to find a good kicker and now they have one.Should he return?
Yes, Barth has proved himself over the last year and a half and deserves a long-term contract rather than a one-year tender.RT James Lee2011 Outlook:
Had a breakthrough season in his first real shot at playing time on offense and put a stranglehold on the starting right tackle job while he was replacing Trueblood. Lee showed he has some real upside.Should he return?
Yes, the Bucs should sign him to a one-year tender and make him compete with Dotson.FS Corey Lynch2011 Outlook:
Gained a lot of experience while starting the last five games and held his own quite well. Lynch showed he could play defense as well as special teams in Tampa Bay.Should he return?
Yes, Lynch should be thrown in the mix to start at free safety with Tanard Jackson and Cody Grimm next year.CB Elbert Mack 2011 Outlook:
One of Raheem Morris’ favorite players, Mack slid down the depth chart with the emergence of E.J. Biggers and rookie Myron Lewis. He didn’t make any plays on defense in limited duty.Should he return?
Yes, Mack should return to challenge the new corner or two that may come from draft and free agency this offseason.DT Frank Okam2011 Outlook:
When Gerald McCoy went down with a season-ending biceps injury, the Bucs turned to the young, 6-foot-5, 350-pounder, who played well down the stretch. His size and power makes him an intriguing player for 2011.Should he return?
Yes, Okam filled in well for McCoy and has way more upside than Ryan Sims had. He should be brought back as McCoy’s backup.WR-KR Micheal Spurlock2011 Outlook:
Had four returns of 65 yards or more in 2010 and averaged 25.7 yards per kick return. Spurlock also made an impact on offense where he caught 17 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns.Should he return?
Yes, Spurlock is the Bucs’ best return man, although he needs to be more aggressive and consistent, and he’s an emerging threat at receiver.EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
The following Buccaneers have accrued less than three years of playing time in the NFL, which would not make them eligible for unrestricted free agency under the previous collective bargaining agreement. The following players are exclusive rights free agents, which gives the Bucs the exclusive ability to negotiate with these players.DE Michael Bennett2011 Outlook:
Bennett flashed some playmaking ability in his most extensive playing time on defense. He finished the season as the team’s starter at right defensive end, beating out White.Should he return?
Yes, Bennett has real promise as a pass rusher, which the Bucs need more of next year, but must turn it on in 2011.QB Rudy Carpenter2011 Outlook:
Had a strong offseason and preseason and showed that he has the ability to be a backup quarterback at the NFL level – not just a No. 3 QB. Carpenter is a smart, savvy player that maxes out on the field and in the film room.Should he return?
Yes, Carpenter is an integral part of the team and well liked in the Bucs’ locker room. RT Demar Dotson2011 Outlook:
An unfortunate knee injury robbed him of the 2010 season, but Dotson had impressed enough during the OTAs to work his way to the top of the depth chart during Donald Penn’s absence.Should he return?
Yes, Dotson has bulked up while rehabbing his knee and could challenge Lee for the starting right tackle job.RB Kareem Huggins2011 Outlook:
Suffered a major knee injury early in the season after a very promising, breakthrough preseason. Huggins is the team’s fastest back and will have to regain his speed as he rehabs this offseason.Should he return?
Yes, the Bucs hope he comes back healthy and can develop into a complimentary back to LeGarrette Blount.DT Doug Worthington2011 Outlook:
Spent half the season on Tampa Bay’s practice squad and was activated to the 53-man roster at the end of the year. Worthington has a big frame and some upside.Should he return?
Yes, the Bucs need to find talented defensive linemen and Worthington knows the defense from being on the practice squad.
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