The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope to build on the momentum of the 2016 NFL season. They finished 9-7 for their first winning season since 2010 and they were percentage points away from being the second wild card team in the NFC Playoffs. That being said, they could definitely use the help of some free agents.
Free Agents That Could Help the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The front office made some moves that indicate the team is aiming higher than just making the NFC postseason. However, the Buccaneers still have a few weaknesses that could cause them to miss out on the playoffs altogether. Disregarding factors such as money, relationships, and player fit, these are some players that remain available. The Buccaneers need help at running back, offensive line, defensive line and the secondary.
The defensive edge could still use some help and Dwight Freeney is the best and most accomplished pass rusher out there. He has 122.5 career sacks and he has been a First Team All-Pro three times. He won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts in 2006, went to another in 2010, and a third with the Atlanta Falcons last year.
Doug Martin will miss the first three weeks of the season for violating the NFL’s drug policy. The early signs in the preseason suggest that the Buccaneers still trust Martin and he’s been effective. But Martin has tallied less than 500 rushing yards three times in five seasons. DeAngelo Williams has platooned throughout his career and he’s been a better running back than Martin, even in his late 30s. He made the playoffs three times with the Carolina Panthers and once with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Buccaneers have a young left tackle in Donovan Smith who has been in the role for the last two years. The seems determined to stick with him. However, Pro Football Focus is not high on Smith going forward. Will Beatty‘s value has been hurt by injuries in his last two seasons with the New York Giants. Prior to 2015, Beatty started in at least 10 games for four straight seasons, including 2011 when the Giants won the Super Bowl.
Orlando Franklin signed with the New Orleans Saints and was cut within a couple of weeks. But the Saints are already stacked on their offensive line; the Buccaneers are not. Franklin could be a tackle like he was with the Denver Broncos for his first three years of his career. Smith and Demar Dotson are not locks at tackle and the Bucs need depth. They have depth at guard, but J.R. Sweezy and Evan Dietrich-Smith are coming back from significant injuries. Franklin was reliable as a guard the last three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers. He played in the Super Bowl with the Broncos against the Seattle Seahawks.
The team’s best corner back last year was Keith Tandy, but he took over at safety. Jude Adjei-Barimah has the potential to be another difference-maker. His growth may preclude the need to add to the secondary. The question mark is the team’s first round pick from last season. Corner back Vernon Hargreaves allowed the most receiving yards among all corners last season. Brent Grimes had a career year last season and his production could come down a little. Tracy Porter struggled last season with the Chicago Bears, but he wouldn’t need to be the main corner. He has 13 career interceptions, including one of the most famous interceptions in Super Bowl history against Peyton Manning.
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