The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a disappointing 5-11 season in 2017, and that has put head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht firmly on the hot seat. The Bucs thought they were primed for a playoff run last year following a 9-7 campaign in 2016, but it turns out that the team has more holes on the roster than they thought a year ago.
PewterReport.com writers Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook and Trevor Sikkema have devised their own Bucs’ 2018 Offseason Battle Plans that feature free agent signings, trades, roster moves and draft picks designed to help get the Bucs back on track and gunning for the. I’ve got the first Bucs’ Battle Plan, so let me know what you think of it in the comments section below.
Remember, these Bucs Battle Plans are how the PewterReport.com staff members would reshape the team this offseason – not necessarily what we think Tampa Bay will do in free agency and the draft, although there could be some overlap with certain players the team may be targeting.
The Bucs start the 2018 offseason with approximately $69.7 million in available salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. Salary cap information and contract data from both OverTheCap.com and Spotrac.com were used in the Bucs Battle Plan series.
While nearly $70 seems like a lot, and it is, there is still some money to shave off the current roster. While I like J.R. Sweezy, and it wasn’t his fault he was injured, his play in 2017 doesn’t come close to warranting his $7 million dollar cap hit for 2018. There are better players that can be had for similar money in free agency.
Looking over the roster of current players, there is still some more cap money to be had. I would release Robert Ayers to save another $6 million towards the 2018 cap, however, I would allow him to test the free agent waters and possibly add him back for a more reasonable team-friendly deal. There probably won’t be a ton of teams lining up to offer him a load of cash, and while it is a gamble, I would give him a one-year, $3 million dollar deal with performance incentives, depending on the ability to upgrade free agency and the draft.
This would give the team approximately $79 million in salary cap money with free agency approaching .
Bucs’ Unrestricted Free Agent Re-signings
Tampa Bay CB Brent Grimes – 1 year, $6 million w/incentives
At some point Grimes’ age has to catch up to his performance, right? Not so fast my friend. The ageless wonder still has plenty of ability left in the tank, and it is up to the coaching staff and front office to convince him the grind is still worth it. Giving him $6 million next season, with a chance to make even more with some incentive clauses, should help encourage him. His wife Miko will most likely be a big fan of keeping Grimes on the field for at least one more year.
Tampa Bay QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – 1 year, $3 million
While many are thinking it could be Mike Glennon back in Tampa Bay, Glennon still wants a shot to at least compete for a starting job. Hey, if Josh McCown keeps finding starting jobs, Glennon should as well. With that said, the Bucs really liked what Fitzpatrick brought to the team last season. Starter Jameis Winston was also a big fan. With a 2-1 record as a starter, and a good grasp on Dirk Koetter’s offense, bringing Fitzpatrick back is a no-brainer.
Tampa Bay S Keith Tandy – 1 year, $2 million
While Tandy never found his 2016 groove last season, he is exactly the type of player teams need to fill out their rosters. Tandy has been a ball magnet his whole career and when pressed into duty, all he does is perform. The Bucs like what he beings on special teams, as well as in the locker room.
Tampa Bay DT Clinton McDonald – 2 years, $2.5 million per year
Like Tandy, McDonald comes to practice everyday with his lunch pail and works. He is a great example for young players on both sides of the ball and is a great teammates. His inside presence allows McCoy to get a blow from time to time and he also is stout in the middle at nose. The Bucs need him back and the community is better by having him in Tampa Bay. Five sacks a year for $2,5 million is a bargain in today’s NFL.
Tampa Bay RB Charles Sims – 1 year, $975,000
While most fans wouldn’t mind seeing Sims take his jitterbug running style elsewhere, the coaching staff still believes he ican valuable part of the offense as a reserve, with some touches on third down. Sims nabbed 35 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown last year and should be signed to at least compete for a roster spot. And if they can upgrade in the draft, then so be it. There likely won’t be very much demand for Sims.
Bucs’ Unrestricted Free Agents Not Re-signed
Tampa Bay G-T Kevin Pamphile
Pamphile missed a golden opportunity in 2017 to really cash in as a free agent and secure his next few seasons in Tampa Bay. But, inconsistent play doomed him early in camp, and the platooning of he and Evan Smith didn’t do him any favors. The crazy thing is, he will make a lot more than his tape says he deserves as an UFA. It just won’t be in Tampa Bay.
Tampa Bay C-G Evan Smith
Of the two, Smith probably played better than Pamphile at guard, and was a valuable reserve filling in for a injured Ali Marpet at center. The Bucs could very well look to bring him back after he is able to test free agency. However, the Bucs believe there are better (and younger) options out there.
Tampa Bay SS T.J. Ward
Ward was lauded as a great pickup by the Bucs around the start of last season, but he ended up not being a very good fit in Tampa Bay. Add his legal troubles and it is time to move on from the former Bronco.
Tampa Bay CB Robert McClain
McClain was steady for the Bucs in 2017, but there should be an upgrade available via free agency and the draft. He would be a candidate to bring back prior to camp he is still available, depending on how free agency and the draft pan out.
Tampa Bay DT Sealver Siliga
Recording just eight tackles and not being active for half the season, there is no explanation needed. They have a younger version in Stevie Tu’ikolovatu that could use the reps.
Tampa Bay C Joe Hawley
Hawley is moving on, packing up and driving around the country in a van. Good for him. He was a great teammate and fun guy to be around. Get out while your body is still somewhat intact.
Tampa Bay LS Garrison Sanborn
Getting younger appears to be the goal at the long snapper position as the Bucs have already found and added a potential replacement in Drew Ferris.
Tampa Bay DE Justin Trattou
Trattou could be a player the team brings back for a camp body as training camp approaches. For now he is expendable.
Tampa Bay G Adam Gettis
Finding a starting caliber diamond in the rough at age 29 just doesn’t happen in the NFL. Bucs will want to develop younger talent with more upside.
Bucs’ Restricted Free Agent Re-signings
Tampa Bay TE Cameron Brate – 4 years, $ 7 million per year
Brate has earned the right to get paid. As one of the top tight ends in the NFC, the Bucs should reward Brate who came out of nowhere as unknown from Harvard to be one of the team’s most reliable and productive players on offense, particularly in the red zone. Brate and Howard will be one of, if not the best, tight end duos in the NFL.
Tampa Bay WR Adam Humphries – 2 years, $2,5 million per season
Humphries, like Brate was a virtual unknown when she stepped on the field at One Buc for the first time as a tryout player. From unknown to a fan favorite, Humphries works as hard as anyone on the roster to perfect his craft. Steady and reliable, all Humphries does is be in the right place at the right time, rarely letting a ball hit the ground that touches his hands.
Bucs’ Restricted Free Agents Not Getting Tender Offers
Tampa Bay OLB Adarius Glanton
Glanton was a great story prior to his devastating leg injury in the Monday night game against Atlanta. He was a special teamer who filled in solidly and was smart enough to be able to play all three linebacker positions. Glanton recently told me his rehab is coming along great and should be ready for 2018. I would look to see where he is health wise as camp approaches.
Tampa Bay CB Jude Adjei-Barimah
Adjei-Barimah was a promising cornerback a couple seasons ago but injuries have taken their toll. That hasn’t stopped Adjei-Barimah from attempting to come back. Good for him. Like Glanton, if healthy prior to camp he would be worth a shot.
Tampa Bay DE Ryan Russell
There just doesn’t seem to be much upside with Russell. Without the rash of injuries on the Bucs’s defense last season he likely doesn’t see the field if he is even on the roster.
Bucs Free Agent Additions
Atlanta DE Adrian Clayborn – 3 years, $8 million per year
After missing out on Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett, the Bucs finally strike and upgrade their pass rush, welcoming back a familiar face in Clayborn. While not as flashy as some of the top pass rushers in the league, Clayborn is safe. He is a hard worker with a relentless motor. And with the signing he immediately helps Tampa Bay get better defensively. With 9.5 sacks in 2017 (6 coming in on game) Clayborn gives the Bucs someone to rattle opposing quarterbacks, and his familiarity with NFC South offenses gives him a leg up over a rookie.
Washington C Spencer Long – 4 years, $5.5 per year
Long isn’t the top rated free agent center, but prior to an injury midway through the 2017 season was playing well. Long had a terrific 2016 campaign anchoring a Redskins line that only gave up 23 sacks. Long also gives the Bucs the flexibility to move Ali Marpet back to guard where he can become a dominant player that has a Pro Bowl in his future. Long will also come significantly cheaper than some of the other free agent centers that are set to cash in on free agency later this month.
Kansas City G Zach Fulton – 4 years, $ 6.75 million per year
Fulton is a young player that most likely still has some upside. His biggest asset is his ability to play both guard positions and center, something he did over his career with the Chiefs. A grinder and a physical football player, Fulton will team up with Demar Dotson to solidify the right side of the offensive line and open holes for whoever is running the football for the Buccaneers in 2018.
Jacksonville CB Aaron Colvin – 4 years, $6.5 million per year
Colvin is a solid cornerback who just got caught up in the wash at Jacksonville with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye who both performed at Pro Bowl levels last season. Colvin comes in a and battles Vernon Hargreaves to play opposite Brent Grimes at right cornerback, and the one who doesn’t win the job can step in as the starter in the slot. Getting Colvin won’t be easy as the Bucs aren’t the only team in need a of a cornerback, but the prospects of staying in Florida help convince the former Jag to sign with the Buccaneers.
New England RB Dion Lewis – 4 years, $4.5 million per year
While signing Lweis won’t deter the Bucs from looking for another one in the draft, it will allow them to not force a rookie into the action immediately and will also give them some insurance in case of injury, something that makes it hard for today’s NFL running backs to carry the load for 16 straight games. Lewis was easily the best and most consistent running back for the Patriots last season, and while few dare to question Bill Belichick’s judgment, some would say Lewis was under utilized in 2017. Lewis is a three-down back and a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.
Pittsburgh K Chris Boswell – 4 years, $3 million per year
After Connor Barth, Kyle Brindza, Roberto Aguayo and Pat Murray, Bucs GM Jason Licht finally solidifies the kicking position in his fifth season as the man in charge. Boswell won’t be cheap, at least in the world of flaky kickers, but after kicking on the awful field conditions and unpredictable weather of Pittsburgh, lining up for a field goal at Raymond James will feel like he died and went to kicker heaven.
Click on the next page below to check out which draft picks I make for Tampa Bay.