Browns RT Mitchell Schwartz - Photo by: Getty Images
The open negotiation phase of free agency began at noon on Monday and the Buccaneers have initially expressed interest in acquiring players on the offensive side of the ball playing for new head coach Dirk Koetter – not the defensive side. At least not yet.
The two names linked to Tampa Bay, which has over $60 million in salary cap space available, thus far are Seattle guard J.R. Sweezy and Cleveland right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.
Interest in both unrestricted free agents has something to do with the departure of Pro Bowl left guard Logan Mankins, who retired on Monday after an 11-year career that ended with Mankins playing in the 2016 Pro Bowl. While third-year lineman Kevin Pamphile will get the first shot at replacing Mankins after a great debut at guard subbing for Mankins against Jacksonville, the Bucs will need another quality guard on the roster.
Seahawks RG J.R. Sweezy – Photo by: Getty Images
Sweezy, Seattle’s seventh-round pick out of North Carolina State in 2012, played with Bucs backup quarterback Mike Glennon in college, but was a defensive end in college before moving to the offensive side of the ball in the NFL. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound Sweezy has played in 59 career games with 49 starts. The 26-year old lineman has reportedly drawn interest from 10 teams, including Tampa Bay. If signed by the Bucs, Sweezy would be favored over Pamphile due to his experience in the NFL.
Schwartz, the brother of former NFL guard Geoff Schwartz, played for Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop from 2012-13 and was drafted by new Tampa Bay director of player personnel John Spytek, who was the Browns director of college scouting in 2012 when Cleveland made him the team’s second-round pick. The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Schwartz, 26, has started 63 games for the Browns and could command a salary of approximately $8.5 million per year.
With Pamphile moving to guard, the Bucs will need a swing tackle to replace him for depth. Demar Dotson, the team’s starter at right tackle, is capable of playing either side. Schwartz is five years younger than Dotson, who turns 31 in October and is coming off a knee injury that cost him the first eight games of the regular season in 2016.
Dotson is in the final year of his contract, as is Gosder Cherilus, who started at right tackle in Dotson’s absence last year. Cherilus, who turns 32 this year, has a gimpy knee. Signing Schwartz would allow the Bucs to have a much younger offensive line with left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Ali Marpet in their second season and Pamphile in his third. Schwartz is entering his fifth and center Joe Hawley is entering his seventh.
The Bucs are not allowed to sign any free agent other than their own prior to the official start of free agency on Wednesday, March 9.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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: [email protected]
Build that O line and protect the franchise. These would be great moves. Get the O Line set, then draft for that D. Pick up a 3rd W/R and lets see what goes at RB
This would be awesome! I’m all about building the trenches. You can never have too many talented linemen. As long we don’t go crazy let’s get it done. Get a strong young line going and continue to draft guys in the mid to late rounds to help bolster the depth. Let’s protect Jameis not with just pass protection but with a strong running game!
Like these ideas. I would still like to see them get a quality CB and DE in FA. Then draft the same way.
I, like thunderchunky, love the idea to take these two in free agency, and go defense in the draft. Makes a lot of sense to me. If a good shot at a CB or DL comes along in free agency along with these two, that would be the perfect storm.
I am always for getting quality OL….but resigning Martin and looking at Dline at least as important….would love it if we at least fill holes….so we can draft best player available…
Have to hope these FA’s see a positive future here. Future playoff team. Every team has money to spend right now so Buc’s better show they are about doing what’s needed to win……NOW!!!
Good to see Licht looking to fill the void left by Mankins’ departure so soon. Hope to see us go after a DE, CB, or S in FA so we have less holes by the draft and can aim more for BPA. Go Bucs!
Stop with the “Bucs have interest in” and sign your targets. Say what you will about Mark Dominik, if you got to OBP, you got signed. Might have been the wrong guy, but you got signed. lol. And if he sent the plane for you you never left town again. Sign’em!!!
Now that he’s ours for 5 years, get more help up front for the Dougernaught! We’re on our way, just a few more additions and a good defensive draft!
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