The first weekend of free agency brought high profile signings and unexpected trades that captivated the beginning of the offseason. While many big names have signed with teams, there are still a number of impactful players that are still available in free agency. Here is a list of the best free agents available this offseason, and the chances that any of the players end up on the Bucs.
Quarterback: 1. Colin Kaepernick – Free Agent 2. Robert Griffin III – Ravens 3. Mike Glennon – Cardinals Analysis: One quarterback hasn’t played in two seasons and the other two were third stringers on their team. That just about sums it up for what’s left at the quarterback position. While many believe Kaepernick still has the talent, this looks like another season where a team won’t take a flyer on him. Keep an eye out for Glennon to possibly return to the Bucs, as they could still use another backup and he can compete for the No. 2 job.
Running Back: 1. T.J. Yeldon – Jaguars 2. Jay Ajayi – Eagles 3. Isaiah Crowell – Jets Analysis: All three are serviceable running backs that can both take on a lead role or play as a complimentary third down back. Ajayi is coming off injuries that only saw him play four games last season, but when healthy he can still be effective with his physical nature. Yeldon was behind a stud running back in Leonard Fournette, but managed to start in five games and showed versatility with both running and receiving, averaging over five yards per rush and eight yards per reception in games started. Crowell was a cap causality because of the Jets signing Le’Veon Bell, and may very well find himself on the Bucs if Jason Licht decides to create more competition at running back.
Wide Receiver: 1. Jordy Nelson – Raiders 2. Michael Crabtree – Ravens 3. Chris Hogan – Patriots Analysis: The remaining receivers left in free agency are all aging veterans that are past their prime. With that said, they can still help out a team if they’re not relied on to be a top target. Nelson’s 739 receiving yards during his first year with the Raiders was a big upgrade from the 437 that he had in his final year with the Packers, showing he still has some left in the tank. The Bucs look to be all set at receiver after signing Breshad Perriman, so these players will be elsewhere.
Tight End: 1. Jared Cook – Raiders 2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Jaguars 3. Jermaine Gresham – Cardinals Analysis: Without question Jared Cook is the best available offensive player left in free agency. He had career highs in receptions (68), receiving yards (896) , and touchdowns (6), which led to a Pro Bowl appearance. While Cook waits for a new home, Jermaine Gresham has a history playing for Bruce Arians, and as we’ve already seen with signings of Andre Ellington and Deone Bucannon, the Bucs could add him next on the list of former Arians players to come to Tampa.
Offensive Line: OG Quinton Spain – Titans OT Jordan Mills – Bills OT Matt Kalil – Panthers Analysis: This is an intriguing position for the Bucs as they need an improvement at right guard and it wouldn’t hurt to see some competition at right tackle either. Quinton Spain has started for three years in a row at guard, and would be an upgrade from Caleb Benenoch. Jordan Mills has also been a starter since 2015 The Bucs currently sit at just under $3 million on the salary cap, so they would more than likely have to make another move on their roster to clear some more space before signing one of these players.
Defensive Line: DE Ezekiel Ansah – Lions DT Ndamukong Suh – Rams DT Tim Jernigan – Eagles Analysis: One of the deeper positions still available, each player has high skill and will help improve any defense they join. Because of the salary cap situation, the Bucs can’t afford these players at the time. Suh got a big contract last year earning $14 million, so we’ll see how the market treats him this year with Suh at an older age of 32.
Linebacker: OLB Justin Houston – Chiefs OLB Jamie Collins – Browns OLB Brandon Marshall – Broncos Analysis: He might be past his 22-sack season, but Justin Houston can still get after the quarterback, notching nine sacks in. 2018. While Houston should be sought after, both Collins and Marshall are solid players that can still play at a high level. Collins had 104 tackles last year and should once again reach the triple digit mark if he remains healthy. With the Bucs signing Shaq Barrett, it looks like they filled their needs at this position.
Cornerback: Darqueze Dennard – Bengals Rashaan Melvin – Raiders Morris Claiborne – Jets Analysis: This is another position in which the Bucs could use an upgrade, especially with a veteran. Right now as it stands, the oldest player that have at corner is only 25. The best corners remaining fill that veteran void with Dennard at age 27 and both Melvin and Claiborne at 29. Playing for Todd Bowles over the past two seasons, Claiborne would be the best best for the Bucs, and his numbers back it up. He played in 15 games last year, which was two more than Dennard and one more than Melvin, and he also had 17 pass deflections with two interceptions. Claiborne would be a good fit with the Bucs young
corner crop if they can get him at the right price.
Safety: Eric Berry – Chiefs Tre Boston – Cardinals Glover Quin – Lions Analysis: At the beginning of free agency this position had a ton of big time names and still do after a few have signed to their teams. When healthy, Eric Berry is one of the best safeties in the game. The fact that he’s still available just speaks to how star studded this group was. The Bucs have already signed safeties Deone Bucannon and Kentrell Brice, but don’t seem to be done adding to this position yet. With the names at the top of the list though, they will more than likely go with another safety that comes has a cheaper value.