After meeting with the national media in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine on Wednesday, Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter, and general manager Jason Licht, met with local members of the Tampa Bay media for exclusive interviews.
Both of these media sessions included more specific questions about the team and their potential upcoming roster moves.
One of the specific answers that Licht gave that caught some attention was that he expressed the interest in bringing both Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte back for the 2017 season and beyond – both players are upcoming unrestricted free agents.
“I don’t want to get into specifics with Bradley, but, we like Bradley, we like Chris Conte. We’ve talked about scenarios of having both of them back. There are a lot of variables right now.”
McDougald and Conte started the 2016 season as the free and strong safeties. Early in the year, both of them had their struggles, as did the entire secondary. However, as the year progressed, so did their safety play. After suffering an injury mid-way through the season, Conte was replaced by Keith Tandy, who came in and played very well. Tandy and McDougald ended the season as the two starting safeties, but Conte also played in a reserve roll.
In his own media session, Koetter expressed the need to just make sure they have depth at the safety positions, whoever it ends up being.
“Our two starting safeties are both unrestricted free agents, so I’m not talking about improving or upgrades, we just don’t have bodies at safety right now. We have Keith Tandy under contract, he played very well at the end of the year, and Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald; they’re both unrestricted free agents. So we have to find another starting safety, and probably two more safeties because we’re going to keep Ryan Smith at corner.”
McDougald, who was signed off waivers by the Buccaneers in 2013, signed a one-year qualifying worth $2.5 million last offseason as a restricted free agent. Conte, on the other hand, who was the Bucs most penalized defender this past season, signed a one-year $3 million dollar deal last offseason as an unrestricted free agent.
In most offseason simulations, from either fans or writers of the team, there haven’t been many scenarios where both McDougald and Conte were both re-signed; it has usually been one or the other. But, Licht seems more than open to bringing both of them back, if nothing else but as insurance of depth.
Re-signing both would most likely limit how high the team would draft a safety, if they were to draft one, but it wouldn’t completely nix the idea of adding a young safety in the draft if the value fits.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: email@example.com