The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have taken a back seat in the free agent market in the past couple of seasons, having decided to go with a massive youth movement instead, but it is always fun to rosterbate a little bit with the guys that are available at positions of need. I have taken it upon myself to address five positions of need going into this offseason. All of the players listed are slated to be unrestricted free agents going into 2011. Some of them may very well choose to re-sign with their former teams, but since we have no way of predicting the future, I've simply eliminated that part of the equation from my analysis.
Many of you are already saying to yourselves that there is no way we're going to make any free agent moves because of the aforementioned youth movement, but I will counter that argument by saying that since the youth movement is already paying dividends, that the front office may very well realize that they are on the verge of contention. A marquee free agent or two could easily make the difference between 10-6 or 11-5 next season. I will address five positions of need in this series: Cornerback, offensive guard, defensive end, linebacker (both inside and outside), and strong safety.
Let me start this by saying that I'm not getting into contract information. If we're being honest, the Buccaneers could easily afford any of these players if they really wanted to. I will also argue that once a new CBA is in place that there will almost certainly be a salary cap, as well as a salary floor. The Buccaneers will most likely be struggling to reach the latter with their current contracts on the books. So, for the sake of argument, let's eliminate all of "he is going to cost too much" argument before it even begins. The Bucs team salary as of right now heading into next season is less than sixty million. That may seem like a lot, but the conservative estimates for the new salary floor is 100 million. Do some quick math and you'll realize that not only are the Bucs likely to sign one or two of these guys. They may very well have to. And with that, let the rosterbation begin:
Asomugha's name has been brought up many times on this board over the past month or so. The pros and cons have been debated, and he isn't the first name on my personal list because I simply don't think the Bucs have a realistic shot at landing him. He is obviously the best free agent corner available and deserves to be at the top of this list. Asomugha is 29 years old and by all accounts is still playing lights out football. Teams literally fear him, which is why at first glance his numbers look fairly unimpressive. His blanket coverage is so good that teams often don't even test him anymore, instead choosing to throw to only the opposite side of the field. He is going to demand huge jack on the free agent market, and every team that has a need at corner will be looking his way. The addition of Asomugha to the secondary would immediately give the Buccaneers one of the top five cornerback tandems in the NFL. Although 29 is bit old for our youth movement, we should still be able to get Pro Bowl caliber play out of Asomugha for 3-4 years in my opinion.
Read about who is number one on my personal wish list, and the other corners that are likely on the Bucs free agent wish list after the jump:
2. Johnathon Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals:
Speaking of best cornerback tandems in the NFL, Joseph and fellow cornerback Leon Hall comprise what has widely been regarded as one of the best over the past couple of seasons. Joseph is number one on my wish list because he could step right into Ronde Barber's shoes next season without skipping a beat. He is the perfect Tampa two corner, and although many feel Hall is the better of the two corners in Cincy, I think he is easily the best #2 corner in the NFL, and could slide into the exact same role opposite Tampa's Aqib Talib. Joseph is also three years younger than Asomugha and could realistically spend the next six to seven years giving opposing quarterbacks fits while dressed in pewter. Joseph is a prime candidate to be slapped with the franchise tag by Cincy this offseason, and has even said he would welcome it, but if they choose to use it on Cedric Benson instead Joseph could very well hit the open market.
While I'm sure I'm gonna take some heat for this one, Carlos Rogers is an outstanding cover cornerback. Is he an All Pro? No. Has he failed to live up to his top ten draft status? Definitely, but with all that being said, Rogers has still played some excellent football during his time in the NFL. Although he takes a lot of heat from Washington fans who tend to make knee jerk reactions because of his tendency to drop interceptions, Rogers may very well just need a change of scenery and not having the pressure of being the next Champ Bailey on his shoulders. If the Buccaneers could convince him to come here and play corner aside Aqib Talib I would be ecstatic. I also believe that Raheem Morris' strength and history as a DB coach could very well work miracles with a player like Rogers, and help him to finally realize his full potential.
Gay is an alumnus of my favorite college program (Da Ville) , so I've been watching him a long time. He has exceeded expectations at every level of his career and has come quite a long way since he was drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round back in 2007. He has had some ups and downs over the past couple of seasons, losing his starting job this year to Bryant McFadden, but when his number was called in the playoffs he was outstanding. This is more of a homer pick for me, and the more obvious choice here is Taylor.
Taylor is 30 years old and his play is on the decline in my opinion. His size and speed still make him attractive but I don't think he would be a good fit for this organization at this point. I would be remiss not to mention him though, so I did.
Cromartie is a lightning rod for NFL fans, but he would be an immediate upgrade over any cornerback currently on the roster outside of Talib. He has always been frustrating to watch because of his jaw dropping play on the field, because the jaw dropping may be induced by the utterly spectacular or utterly terrible play he just made. Cromartie often covered the #1 receiver this year instead of Derrelle Revis, and most of the time he looked pretty good doing it. His past few years in San Diego were a nightmare, but Rex Ryan seems to have motivated him into making football a priority again. I believe that Cromartie would thrive under Morris' tutelage and although I know many of this board hate the thought of him in a Bucs jersey, he could very well help us win some games next year.
So what do you think Bucs Nation? Do you agree or disagree with any of my opinions on these players? Who would you like to see opposite Talib next year?