While the Bucs aren’t expected to go crazy in free agency this season, they will be looking to upgrade a number of positions. PewterReport.com takes a look at each unit over the next week, showcasing which players Tampa Bay could lose, and which players might replace them, including our Bucs’ Best Bets.
Offensive Line 2019 Bucs Free Agents: Leonard Wester (RFA), Michael Liedtke (ERFA)
With Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet and now Donovan Smith all locked up with contracts, the left side of the Bucs offensive line shouldn’t change much in the next year or two and the team will likely be looking for a guard to step in and immediately play at the right guard position. Caleb Benenoch, last year’s starter, moves back to right tackle to compete with an aging Demar Dotson.
Should the Bucs find someone to bring in at right tackle (whether through the draft or free agency), that will be two positions on the team’s offensive line that will be looking for a new starter in 2019 or 2020.
Top NFL Free Agent Offensive Linemen Available
1. OT Trent Brown – Patriots 2. OT Ja’Wuan James – Dolphins 3. OT OT Daryl Williams – Panthers 4. G Rodger Saffold – Rams 5. C Mitch Morse – Chiefs
Others: C Matt Paradis (Broncos), G Mike Iupati (Cardinals), G Andy Levitre (Falcons), G Jamon Brown (Giants).
Outlook: Teams that’s looking for a guard in free agency are in luck because there are some players out there that could help a team looking to bolster their offensive line. There are also some young, impact tackles in guys like James and Brown that will likely reel in their fair share of money when they sign in 2019. As far as centers, guys like Paradis and Morse (who can also play guard) lead the way.
The bonus for teams like the Bucs is that there are some older linemen that are hitting free agency this year that can still make an impact on a winning team, will likely come at a discount due to age and probably won’t handcuff the team with a long-term contract. Of course with those stipulations, risk of injury and regression from guys like Iupati, who played for Bruce Arians and Harold Goodwin in Arizona, are always a concern.
Bucs’ Best Bet: Mike Iupati New coaches like to bring in former players who have familiarity with their system and no one available in free agency is a better fit in that regard than Iupati. The major concern is his injury history the last few seasons, including ending up on injured reserve in both 2017 and 2018, with the latest trip due to an MCL tear. However, if Iupati is recovered and wanting to continue playing in the NFL, the Bucs and the Bruce Arians-Todd Bowles connection makes perfect sense.
There have been some reports of interest from other teams since the Cardinals voided the final year of his deal, making him a free agent, and Iupati, a native of Samoa who was raised in California, could choose a west coast team to plat for. Expect the Bucs to make a strong push for his services however, as they look to find a bridge until a younger replacement is ready for a starting role, whether that be Alex Cappa or a draft pick in 2019.