Who are five potential big name free agent fits for Tampa Bay? Which one could the Bucs steal from a division rival? Find out right here.
With the progress made towards ending the NFL lockout, the opening up of the free agent marketplace could allow the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to fortify their roster with some NFL veterans. With that in mind, Pewter Report takes a look at five potential big name players that could be a match for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay has not signed a big name free agent in many years, but in 2009 general manager Mark Dominik made a strong push to sign defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and linebacker Jonathan Vilma. They were two of the biggest stars in free agency that year, and they chose to sign elsewhere. This year there are some big name free agents that could be a fit for the Buccaneers if they are willing to commit to the contracts it would take to sign them.NEW ENGLAND G LOGAN MANKINS
The 29-year old Mankins is very likely to become the highest paid guard in the NFL if he hits unrestricted free agency. Mankins is equally a dominant run blocker and pass protector. For years he has been one of the best guards in the NFL, and there is no reason to think that his play will decline in the next few years. Mankins has started all 89 games he has played in. He started 16 games as a rookie in 2005 and every game the next four years, 2006-2009. In 2010 Mankins missed the first seven games of the year in a contract dispute. In the past, Mankins has been adamant that he wants out of New England, but some now believe the relationship has improved and he would be willing to stay. If the franchise tag were applicable in a new collective bargaining agreement the Patriots would use it on Mankins. The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Mankins could be a fit for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay would like to re-sign guard Davin Joseph, but it will take a massive contract to do so. The Bucs could decide to spend a little more and sign perhaps the best guard in the NFL with Mankins.
OAKLAND CB NMANDI ASOMUGHA
The 30-year old Asomugha is in the discussion as the best cornerback in the NFL because he is a true shut down corner. Asomugha routinely takes away any wide receiver that he is matched up against. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound corner has an elite combination of size and speed for the cornerback position. Since the 2006 season when Asomugha recorded eight interceptions, teams have not thrown the ball his direction. He had one interception per season in 2007-2009, and did not record an interception last season. The California product also is a good run defender on the perimeter. Asomugha could be a fit for the Buccaneers if the team decides to move on from fourth-year pro Aqib Talib. It would take a massive contract to sign Asomugha as he is rumored to be looking to receive a contract around $17 million per season. Asomugha wants to sign with a team that he believes will contend for the Super Bowl immediately. Many in league circles believe that Asomugha will end up in the NFC East, but the Bucs are a playoff contender with the resources to pay him. While it is not impossible, it is probably a long shot that Asomugha signs with Tampa Bay. CINCINNATI CB JONATHAN JOSEPH
Joseph won’t command as large a contract as Asomugha, but it still will take a large, long-term deal to sign Joseph. The Bengals first-round pick in 2006 has good combination of size (5-11, 190) and speed. He also has good ball skills as he has recorded 14 interceptions over the past four seasons. The 27-year old Joseph is a good cover corner that also plays well in zone schemes. He won’t command the amount of money that Asomugha will, and in three or four years Joseph could still be playing at a high level while Asomugha could be declining. If Talib is released by Tampa Bay, Joseph could be a long-term replacement.MINNESOTA LB CHAD GREENWAY
Like Mankins, Greenway could be slapped with the franchise tag if it survives the labor negotiations. If not, Greenway will be the top linebacker available. Greenway (6-2, 242) has played inside and outside linebacker the past four seasons and has not missed a game in that time. Greenway, 28, is a very tough run defender that also is good in pass defense. He is intelligent and is very physical. The Iowa product has seven forced fumbles and five interceptions over the past four seasons. Greenway could be an upgrade to the Bucs run defense, which has been among the NFL’s worst the past two seasons. For the Bucs he probably would project as a middle linebacker. Barrett Ruud, Tampa Bay’s starting middle linebacker and leading tackler the past four seasons, is heading into unrestricted free agency. If he is an unrestricted free agent, the Buccaneers could make a strong play to sign Greenway to beef up their linebacking corps and run defense. NEW YORK GIANTS RB AHMAD BRADSHAW
The Bucs took running back Kenneth Darby instead of Bradshaw in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Bradshaw has gone on to become a very good running back. Bradshaw, 25, should have plenty left in the tank to make a long-term contract a safe gamble. Last year he ran for 1,235 yards with eight touchdowns and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Bradshaw is a quality receiver as well. Last year he caught 47 passes for 314 yards. For his career Bradshaw has 2,558 rushing yards with 17 touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. One draw back to Bradshaw’s game is ball security. Last year he fumbled the ball seven times. The 5-foot-9, 198-pound Bradshaw is a speed back that would offer Tampa Bay’s offense a game breaker in the backfield. Signing Bradshaw would give the Buccaneers a true change of pace running back to pair with LeGarrette Blount. Bradshaw is a threat to score on any carry. As a rookie he had an 88-yard touchdown. In 2008 he had a run of 77 yards. If the Buccaneers are looking to continue to surround quarterback Josh Freeman with weapons then Bradshaw could be a top free agent consideration for Tampa Bay.
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