The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off an impressive 9-7 season in 2016, which was the first under head coach Dirk Koetter. With a few upgrades to the team’s roster, the Bucs should have the talent to make the playoffs and compete for the NFC South title this season.

PewterReport.com writers Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook and Trevor Sikkema have all come up with their own versions of the Bucs’ 2017 Offseason Battle Plans that feature free agent signings, trades and draft picks designed to help get the Bucs get double-digit wins and into the postseason. I’ve got the first Bucs’ Battle Plan, so take a look and let me know what you think in the article comments section below.

Remember, this is how I would reshape the team this offseason – not necessarily what I think the Buccaneers will do in free agency and the draft, although there could be some overlap with certain players Tampa Bay may be targeting.

The Bucs enter the 2017 offseason with approximately $61.9 million in available salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. The first move I would make would be to release cornerback Alterraun Verner and give him the chance to find a better chance for playing time elsewhere. Verner, who was beaten out for a starting job by Vernon Hargreaves III, is due to make $6.5 million in base salary. Cutting him gives the Bucs $68.4 million in available cap room.

Here are the offseason roster moves I would make:

BUCS’ UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT RE-SIGNINGS
Tampa Bay DE Will Gholston – 4 years, $5.75 million per year
The Bucs lock up the big, run-stuffer to a four-year deal worth $23 million. At age 25, Gholston has plenty of upside and talent worth investing in, and Tampa Bay’s run defense remains stout with his return.

Bucs C Joe Hawley- Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs C Joe Hawley- Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay C Joe Hawley – 3 years, $4 million per year
This may not be the deal that Hawley wants in free agency, but I don’t think they’ll be much of a market for him in free agency. He comes back to compete with Evan Smith and Ali Marpet for the starting center job and only his 2017 salary is guaranteed.

Tampa Bay RB Jacquizz Rodgers – 3 years, $3 million per year
Rodgers gets rewarded for a very good fill-in season in 2016 with an incentive-laden deal that includes $6 million in guaranteed money over the first two years. He has a chance to compete for the starting running back job in Tampa Bay in 2017 to replace Doug Martin.

Tampa Bay S Chris Conte – 1 year, $3 million
Conte returns to the team with another one-year, prove-it deal for $3 million, which is what he received last year. He’ll compete with Bradley McDougald and a rookie for the chance to start opposite Keith Tandy in 2017.

Tampa Bay S Bradley McDougald – 1 year, $3 million
Like Conte, McDougald returns for another year. Having these safeties back with their knowledge of Mike Smith’s scheme is helpful for continuity on defense, and McDougald will have the chance to compete to start again in 2017.

Tampa Bay WR Russell Shepard – 2 years, $2.5 million per year
The Bucs see a lot of value in Shepard, the team’s special teams captain and emotional fire-starter, but want to see more development from him as a wide receiver in 2017. He’s still a top special teams ace in Tampa Bay.

Bucs NT Akeem Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay CB Josh Robinson – 2 years, $2.25 million per year
Robinson proved to be one of the top gunners in the NFL last year and the Bucs give him a slight pay raise to stick around for a few more years as the team’s fifth cornerback.

Tampa Bay DT Akeem Spence – 2 years, $2 million per year
Spence failed to beat out Clinton McDonald last year for the starting nose tackle job, but the Bucs liked what he could do as a reserve. At age 25, Tampa Bay feels he could develop into a starter in time and he’s worth investing a short-term deal in.

Tampa Bay DT Sealver Siliga – 2 years, $1.25 million per year
The 330-pound Siliga proved his worth in short-yardage and goal line defense for Tampa Bay last year, and he’s worth keeping around with a pay raise and a short-term deal.

BUCS UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS NOT RE-SIGNED
WR Vincent Jackson
At age 34, Jackson is a shell of his former self and can’t run anymore due to knee injuries. It’s time to move on and get younger and faster at wide receiver.

QB Mike Glennon
Glennon is expected to get north of $6 million per year, which is more than starter Jameis Winston will make in 2017. The Bucs will cash on with a compensatory pick in 2018 when he hits free agency.

TE Brandon Myers
Myers is a decent blocker, but at age 31, he no longer has the speed to get many yards after the catch. The Bucs need to get younger and more athletic at tight end.

LB Daryl Smith
Smith was a great veteran presence at the Sam linebacker spot. It’s time to turn that job over to Devante Bond or Adarius Glanton.

Bucs RT Gosder Cherilus – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

OT Gosder Cherilus
Bad knees and age have robbed Cherilus of his mobility, but he was a great veteran presence in the locker room. The Bucs have some young tackles to develop in Caleb Benenoch and Leonard Wester.

WR Cecil Shorts
Shorts sustained a severe knee injury that could unfortunately cost him his NFL career. He won’t be able to play during the 2017 season as a result.

RB Antone Smith
Smith suffered a torn ACL during the season and he’s doubtful to play in 2017. At age 31, the Bucs need to move on from Smith and get younger at running back.

DT John Hughes
The Bucs opt to re-sign Akeem Spence and Sealver Siligia at the defensive tackle spot instead of bringing back Hughes.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENT RE-SIGNINGS
Tampa Bay DE Jacquies Smith (tender) – 1 year, $1.75 million (estimated)
Smith is coming off a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2016 season opener, but should be able to participate in training camp. He’s worth a one-year low tender due to his pass-rushing ability, and the Bucs’ have the ability to match any offer he receives.

Tampa Bay QB Ryan Griffin (tender) – 1 year, $1.75 million (estimated)
The Bucs like Griffin’s ability and knowledge of the offense, and he’ll get a shot to prove he can be Winston’s backup in Tampa Bay with Glennon’s departure.

FREE AGENT ADDITIONS
Washington WR DeSean Jackson – 4 years, $9.5 million per year
Tampa Bay makes a strong push in free agency to pry Jackson away from Washington and Philadelphia. The Bucs need to get more explosive at wide receiver, and even at age 30, his 17.9 yards per catch average was the best in the NFL due to his 4.35 speed. Think Joey Galloway, Bucs fans.

Cardinals TE Jermaine Gresham – Photo by: Getty Images

Arizona TE Jermaine Gresham – 4 years, $6 million per year
The Bucs land a 28-year old tight end in his prime, who is a nasty blocker and a big target in the passing game at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. Gresham, a former first-round pick, is a significant upgrade over Brandon Myers and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, helps the running game and is a co-starter along with emerging weapon Cameron Brate.

With these signings, the Buccaneers will have spent an estimated $43.5 million worth of salary cap space in free agency. There is plenty of room left to sign wide receiver Mike Evans to a contract extension worth an average of $14 million per year that will represent only about $11 million in new money for 2017.

Evans’ new contract leaves Tampa Bay with $13.9 million in salary cap room. The Bucs will need about $5 million in salary cap room for their rookies this year, which will leave $8.9 million left to sign players as needed during the season.

After the draft, I plan on cutting running back Doug Martin, who has proven to be too unreliable, and won’t be eligible for the first three games of the 2017 season due to a suspension for PED usage. That will save the Bucs $7 million in Martin’s base salary, which in turn gives Tampa Bay $15.9 million in salary cap room.

I’ll be on the lookout to sign a veteran kicker after the draft to compete with Roberto Aguayo, too. Now let’s take a look at some of my personal picks for the Bucs in the 2017 NFL Draft. This is not a mock draft of players that I necessarily believe the Bucs will draft. That’s what PewterReport.com’s 2017 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft articles are for, and we will have another one in early March after the NFL Scouting Combine.

Click on the next page below to check out which draft picks I make for Tampa Bay.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 spent six years 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: sr@pewterreport.com
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stlbucsfan

Overall I like the direction of this battle plan, but I have a few tweaks. I would not re-sign Hawley for 4M, Spence for 2M, Conte at 3M or bring in Gresham for 6M. I would rather see us sign Zeitler the guard for 9M over 3-4 years and Fairley for around 6-7M a season. Take away 4 middling players and add 2 impact players. We will have the opportunity to add Howard or Njoku in the draft which are both capable blockers and much more dynamic athletes in the passing game. Zietler gives us a starting caliber guard to… Read more »

Naplesfan

I like most of Scott’s proposed battle plan, with two exceptions: 1) Not on board cutting Martin yet … and no reason to because the Bucs don’t need to make a decision until after Week 3 of the regular season … and the Bucs have already let it be known that’s their intention. Wait and see if “good” Martin shows up this year or “bad” Martin reappears. 2) Definitely no go on McCaffery or any running back in the first round, much prefer OJ Howard or Davis to boost our receiving game, or perhaps a defensive lineman in the first.… Read more »

Naplesfan

correction… meant to say (brain fart!) that the Jackson to Bucs move would be a great boost to the receiving game … need another cup of coffee!

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jshumaker

1. I don’t think Martin has any leverage. I think the Bucs can cut him and then offer him the lowest contract possible with no worry of another team matching that offer

2. Agreed. No on McCaffery and if Howard or Davis drop to the early teens then the Bucs need to trade up to get one of those guys. Especially considering that Washington and Philly need help in the passing game. Therefore the Bucs need to jump ahead of them

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Naplesfan

I didn’t write that Martin has any leverage … he doesn’t. It’s only a matter of whether his health and performance are good come Week 3 of the regular season, after practicing and playing throughout the pre-season, or not.

It’s virtually guaranteed that the Bucs will void Martin’s existing contract with it’s guaranteed salary this year. The only question is whether the Bucs eventually decide to keep him on an incentives-based contract, or cut him.

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AlexanderNascimento

Fantastic ideia! Congratulatuions! Can’t wait to see them all!

Speaking of guessing and predicting, can you guys remember us your predictions for the 2016 season on the, in Koetter words, only numbers that really matters, Ws?

Thanks all the way from Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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Brandonges

I think this would be a pretty good off-season by the Bucs. I agree with all the moves in free agency and think there is a good chance the Bucs do something similar. My only real complaint with this scenario is McCaffery in the first round. I don’t think guy is an NFL feature back and will be overdrafted. Aside from that, good depth was added. If this is the real off-season, I would give it a “B”. Looking forward to Mark and Trevor’s scenarios.

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macabee

My PR mock draft is unchanged. I will update after the combine and one week following the start of free agency on March 9th. But I will offer my targets for free agency now. In the past, I’ve always gone for the top free agents and Jason Licht never does that. This time I tried to second guess him and pick what I think are value picks. BUCS FREE AGENCY These are the players that I would like to see the Bucs target in free agency. According to OverTheCap (OTC), the Bucs have 65mil in cap space and possibly more… Read more »

jme0151

I like your free agent signings. All seem to add strength in areas we need help. Campbell would be a great pick up.

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SaskBucs

Verner gone is a given, I would also let Hawley, Conte, and Spence walk. I would sign DJax, and another impact player on either line. If Davis or Howard aren’t available at 19, I am not opposed to trading down for picks, but would look strongly at a DL/DE like Taco Charlton. Then in the 2nd… S Baker/Melifonwu, 3rd.. C Pocic/Elflein or RB Mixon, 4th …WR Reynolds, RB Hunt/Foreman, 5th-7th…. BPA filling depth holes, Gibson, Jones, a CB all seem like fine options in the back half of draft. Depending on how the draft goes, I like the options we… Read more »

SaskBucs

Haha and now I kinda like what Macabee is selling ! Would change my draft strategy a bit as FA is expected to do but Campbell on that line with McCoy would be NASTY!

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chetthevette

Hello Scott. Love the new twist, battle plan, great concept. The only problem with battle plans are that after the initial push most battle plans stall and generals scramble to figure it out. I love bantering about the BUCS, but my fist love is civil war history. Like the generals that fought that war head coaches have to adapt or get crushed by their enemy. Think about it like this, the Union was getting their asses kicked until Grant and Sherman were given the chance to get involved. The 2 most ruthless S.O.B.’s ever to lead an American army. So… Read more »

e

Scott, I like where you are going to Christian McCaffery. I think he’d be the wise choice with the first round selection. He fills a lot of holes, and has that Marshall Faulk sort of feel, to me… Character, production, leader, smart, etc… I’m on board. I’m not sure about Gresham, maybe drafting Jake Butt? I also see the Bucs drafting another LB to compete for Smith’s spot. I also think that C Ethan Pocic would be a nine pick up in the earlier rounds.

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JoshMcCrownUs

Wait we have an extra 4th round pick? What did I miss?

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seat26

I like the idea of trading down and getting more picks. This is a strong draft and deep. We need players to develop for the future.

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martinii

Great read Scott, It must be difficult to project so much this early in the offseason. I agree with a lot of your choices, although I am a Calias Campbell groupie for now. I have been reading a lot about Christian McCaffery and after watching your video of him he seems to have all the tools. I’ll admit that I am not a great fan of trading up in the draft, but I would love to trade down for more picks. It’s been awhile since we picked mid !st round so it will be interesting to see if Licht would… Read more »

drdneast

Quite an interesting read an I have to say I enjoyed reading your ideas very much. Unfortunately you awfully cavalier in regards to the future of an ex No. 1 draft pick of the Bucs, Doug Martin. In one deft move you say you would cut Martin because he has had legitimate injuries and a minor drug problem. Fortunately it appears Bucs management doesn’t feel the same way you do. Of course you are going to replace him with Christian McCafferty, an unproven commodity in the NFL who is slighter in build and weight than Martin. How do you think… Read more »

drdneast

Why would anyone want to keep Evan Smith over Joe Hawley. Hawley beat Smith out of his job when he got here and Smith hasn’t been able to get it back since and Smith is being paid a couple more million than Hawley to sit on the bench.
Is Smith’s agent allowed to post out here?

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Julian Jordan

Wasn’t there communication issues between Jameis and Smith?

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GoldsonAges

Overall, the plan is really good Scott. Love Adoree Jackson, but I’m assuming that would need to be your 1st round pick. Just as well, because you are wasting the 1st on a small RB anyway. After VH3 last year and now McCaffrey this year, we are officially the Tampa Bay Midget Drafting Buccaneers!! As much as I disliked the Kareem Hunt talk, I would prefer him in the 3rd over McCaffrey in the 1st. I don’t think McCaffrey is a bad player. He is one of my favorites, he just is not worth a 1st round pick IMO. Rate… Read more »

drdneast

It’s good to see more people are on board with keeping Martin. jshumaker, you are kidding yourself if you don’t think Martin has any leverage. First off, if the Bucs waive him, which I believe they will have to do, any team could pick up his existing contract which will pay out about $5.7 million after his three game suspension. That isn’t overwhelming money. Even if they don’t, that would give Martin the choice to play for any team in the NFL who is looking for a well rested RB who is very well capable of putting together a 1.000… Read more »

scubog

Well Scott, I liked you “Battle Plan”. To those who think the dynamic Christain McCaffrey is too small, I offer you some guy named Warrick Dunn who was even smaller and not as fast. I doubt McCaffrey makes it past the Patriots who always seem to end up with players of his most obvious rare trait for a skill position player. I do think the Bucs will hold onto Doug Martin at least through Training Camp to see if he is worthy of making the 53 at any price. A repeat in Pre-Season of his showing in 2016 just isn’t… Read more »

mtbruning

I would like to see an upgrade at center. It’s nice to had sweezy back if he is going to be contributing. However, ignoring the O-line got us into no end of trouble in the past. We should at least kick the tires on Mangold now that he is cut,

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kram0789

I think yours is the best of the three, but I am not sold on McCaffrey and I am disappointed that the OL issues were not addressed. My prediction for the OL is that Dotson deals with injuries and misses 8 games; Donovan Smith improves marginally and is still a liability in pass protection; weakness at center leads to pressure up the middle. So with poor pass protection from Smith, a swinging gate at RT and pressure up the middle, it is not going to make a big difference which skill players are starting. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00… Read more »

Julian Jordan

Got to give it to you Reynolds and it was close between you and Tampa Tre. Main reason is this, continuity. Didn’t shake up it too much. Don’t want to hit that Eagles Dream Team scenario where it all comes crumbling down. The main needs for this offseason are running back (I like TampaTre’s game plan better) as I prefer Hunt to McCaffrey. Yet I like the Vito pick over Joe Williams. Haha. Don’t write me off just yet. I’m surprised though out of all 3 of you. None of you like Alshon Jeffrey. I don’t get why so many… Read more »