Over the past weeks, we have mostly been discussing the Buccaneers' possibilities in the draft. Will they go for a cornerback, a safety, a defensive end, a linebacker, a defensive tackle or a tight end? We've got a long, long list of needs the Bucs will need to address this offseason. The question is how they go about their business. Free agency will be crucial in that conversation.
Free agency will start on March 12, although the Bucs can re-sign their own players right now, and will be allowed to speak with unrestricted free agents of other teams on March 9. The draft starts one-and-a-half months later, on April 25. The order of those two events dictates one simple truism: the needs the Bucs will have going into the draft will be determined by what they do in free agency.
That's why free agency will be important this offseason, as it is in any offseason, really. The Bucs have cleared a metric ton of cap space, so they will spend in free agency. But which needs will they address? They've already begun negotiations with Mike Williams for a contract extension, and they're exceedingly likely to at least try to re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett to a big contract. But other than that? Will they go after one cornerback in free agency? Two? Three, maybe? Will they try to add a safety, or a defensive lineman, or a linebacker? Will they look for a tight end in free agency or in the draft? The answer to all those questions will lead us to the answer to the other question we're all asking ourselves: who will the Bucs select in the first round of the draft.