The longer this lockout drags on the longer we, as Bucs fans, are left to sit and wonder what, if anything, our team will do when free agency begins. Over the last two years, Mark Dominick and Raheem Morris have shown that they will likely not chase after the high-priced, first-tier veterans. It is hard to argue with their approach either, as during that same span they turned an aging, declining team into a young, lean 10-6 team that just missed a slot in the postseason.
With this knowledge in mind, it helps narrow down the potential free agency field. So who will the Bucs chase? Who do they believe fits what they want to do? We do not work for the organization, so we can never be certain, but we can make some educated guesses. The offensive line played serviceably last season considering the myriad injuries that struck it, but considering the talent that was there it still played below expectations. Also, it's most talented player, Davin Joseph, is scheduled to become a free agent.
See who the Bucs might be interested in, after the jump.
I would like to assume the Bucs realize the value of a large, mauling guard like Joseph, and will therefore assume he will be brought back. With that position solidified, and Ted Larsen having an ok time at the other guard position when pressed into service, that really leaves right tackle as the position most easily upgraded along the offensive line.
At this tackle position, there are several good players who will become free agents when the new league year begins, but assuming last year's rules are still in effect, which appears more likely each day, most of them will be restricted in their movements. There are still several players that would likely be available under the 2010 free agency rules, however. Players such as Khalif Barnes of the Raiders, Shawn Andrews of the Giants, and Alex Barron of the Cowboys are all scheduled to become free agents, and all have the required 6 seasons of service to be considered truly free no matter which rules are used. Are those three truly upgrades though? Shawn has had injury problems, missing all of the 2009 season and playing in only two games in 2008. Alex Barron committed three penalties just in the time it took you to read this article, and has been penalty prone his entire career. The Bucs already have a tackle like that in Jeremy Trueblood, and while Barron may have more athleticism and talent, the mental lapses are disgustingly similar.
The only true upgrade at RT who is likely to be available under the 2010 rules is Jammal Brown, currently of the Redskins. Whether the Redskins let him leave or not is another story, as they traded a 3rd or 4th round draft pick for him last year, and to let him leave after a single season would be ludicrous. That being said, Brown had an up-and-down season last year, but played well when healthy. While he is likely a better fit at LT, where he played during his years with the Saints, Brown has the size and strength necessary to play RT at a high level. While a slight injury history (he has missed time each of the last 4 seasons) will probably keep him from receiving first-tier money, Brown will still likely cost teams a pretty penny. Also, while his being 30 doesn't quite fit into the Buccaneers' youth movement, you can usually get more mileage out of an offensive lineman than other positions.