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.
2019 Bucs Free Agents: Alan Cross (restricted)
The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches at the tight end position. With O.J. Howard turning into one of the league’s premier tight ends, Cam Brate continuing to be his reliable, sure-handed self, Antony Auclair playing a part in all 16 games last season and Tanner Hudson and Donnie Ernsberger around as insurance, the only thing that the 2019 Bucs will be missing from last season at the position is Alan Cross.
Cross would be a restricted free agent entering this offseason but made the decision to leave the league on his own terms and rejoin his alma mater on the sidelines, accepting a coaching position at the University of Memphis. Despite playing in just 10 games before an injury derailed the rest of his 2018 campaign, Howard hauled in 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns. Brate filled Howard’s absence – perhaps not to the same degree – with 289 yards on 30 receptions and six touchdowns of his own.
Top NFL Free Agent Tight Ends Available
1. Jared Cook – Raiders
2. Tyler Eifert – Bengals
3. Dwayne Allen – Patriots
4. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Jaguars
5. Jesse James – Redskins
Others: Luke Willson (Lions), Marcedes Lewis (Packers), Lance Kendricks (Packers), Demetrius Harris (Chiefs), Zach Miller (Bears), Luke Stocker (Titans)
Outlook: There are plenty of tight ends available on the free agent market in 2019 that could do anything you could want in a tight end. There are tight ends that could step in and be immediate weapons in the pass game as well as numerous guys that have been perennial impact players as blocking tight ends, but the question will always be the same as long as the Bucs have such a talented tight end room, where will they fit in Tampa?
Bucs’ Best Bet: No one
Tampa Bay has the deepest and most talented tight end room in the NFL, and if the team was going to add a player it would come in the draft, which is flush with talent this year, or after the draft in the form of an undrafted free agent. Signing a tight end in free agency would waste precious salary cap space.