As expected, the Buccaneers passed on dishing out – and perhaps overpaying – big money for high-profile free agents on the first day of NFL free agency in 2015. PewterReport.com advised fans that were hoping to land guard Mike Iupati, right tackle Bryan Bulaga or versatile lineman Orlando Franklin that the best option for Tampa Bay would be to draft and develop offensive linemen rather than overpaying for mediocre talent in free agency. The Bucs were aware of the fact that 15 out of the 16 Pro Bowl offensive linemen last year were drafted by their teams. The one that wasn’t, Philadelphia left tackle Jason Peters, was acquired via a trade with Buffalo – not in free agency.
The Bucs learned their lesson last year about overpaying for the best available talent in free agency, whiffing on the top three free agents the team signed a year ago – left tackle Anthony Collins, defensive end Michael Johnson and quarterback Josh McCown. McCown was 1-10 as a starter and was released last month. Collins was cut on Tuesday, and Johnson could still be on the chopping block.
As a result, the Bucs decided to pass on Iupati, Franklin and Bulaga, choosing to bid on just one high-priced target, defensive end Trent Cole, who ultimately signed a two-year, $16 million deal with Indianapolis. The Bucs didn’t like Iupati in pass protection, especially with the thought of drafting a rookie quarterback like Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay didn’t think Franklin was good enough to pay an average of $7 million per year. The same with Bulaga, who decided to re-up with the Packers.
The Bucs wasted enough money last year with mediocre talent, and didn’t want to repeat those mistakes again. Two of the team’s more reasonable signings, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and cornerback Alterraun Verner, proved to be Tampa Bay’s best free agent additions in 2014. That’s why the Bucs are targeting more mid-tier free agents this year, lining up visits with Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter, Oakland lineman Stefen Wisniewski, Titans defensive end Derrick Morgan and two former Chicago Bears draft picks under Lovie Smith, defensive tackle Henry Melton (now with Dallas), and Bears safety Chris Conte.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
At least one can argue they’re learning!
Yes, building and developing your players through the draft is the way to go for sure. The problem is this team has not drafted well in over a decade. The next best option is FA. When your are a 2-14 team you have to overpay for players to get them to come here. To become what I would call “gun shy” is also a bad approach. You have to trust your scouting and if you have to overpay somewhat,so be it. Licht and Lovie Could be a one and done team in the front office if they blow this FA and draft. They have four years left I believe for sure and I say that only because they will be selecting their QB of the future in this draft. They will be allowed the remainder of their contract to get the ship turned in the right direction. This is the time to spend wisely and trust your scouting and don’t be “GUN SHY”
Seems like a ‘plan’ but until it’s actually done and they get the guys they claim they are interested in I’m still worried. Verner wasn’t exactly a mid-tier guy either, he was as big priced as any they brought in last year.
the youtube highlights of Morgan, of his college days that are still up, shows him blowing up Bulaga; I get this feeling that he could be better than some think; surround him with talent, and he’ll get more stats and help the free up the others as well.
I’m wondering why the Bucs don’t like Colin McCarthy. Outside of injury problems, he’s a faster Mason Foster.
It makes sense. They paid a lot of guaranteed money for busts and doing that two years in a row might strap the salary cap if the bust again. I think if they just shoot for slightly improved players and not the moon shot, the team will be better this year. We will just have to wait a month or so to see who they actually land. I expect the process to continue after the draft when more cuts are made when teams are sure they have replacements for current “rostered” players.
Well I suppose we will be reading articles about how the Bucs either lost, or were mediocre in FA this year. Last year we won FA….on paper. We lost on the field. I hope losing FA translates to wins this year!
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