The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been active in free agency so far. They'e signed Dashon Goldson, Tom Crabtree, Kevin Ogletree and Jonathan Casillas. They traded Arrelious Benn to the Philadelphia Eagles. They let Michael Bennett and Roy Miller walk. And they let every cornerback on the market go elsewhere. So how do we grade each of these deals, and what do we think of the Bucs' efforts in free agency so far?
Signing Dashon Goldson to a five-year, $41.25 million contract
Goldson fits the Buccaneers like a glove. He's a rangy deep safety who can play downhill in the run game, complementing the more box-oriented Mark Barron perfectly. Although both Goldson and Barron are versatile players, both have slightly different skill sets. Goldson's contract is fairly rich, near the top of the safety market, and the Buccaneers may have overpaid slightly. Not by much, though, and the fact that the Bucs don't use signing bonuses drives up the total price of contracts while giving them more flexibility and protection down the line, making the contract look slightly worse than it really is.
Signing Jonathan Casillas to a one-year, $1.4 million deal
Originally, the contract was reported to be worth up to $3 million. That turned out to be significantly less. Still, this is quite a decent amount of money to pay for a linebacker who hasn't done much and whose main skill appears to be blitzing. The Bucs do have a need for a new strongside linebacker, and they'll presumably let Casillas compete with Adam Hayward, Najee Goode and Dekoda Watson.
Signing Kevin Ogletree to a two-year, $2.6 million deal
Ogletree is another cheap player to compete for depth purposes. The Bucs need a third receiving option, and Ogletree will get a chance to become that guy in training camp. His main claim to fame is one game in 2012, where he put up 122 receiving yards. Other than that, he hasn't done much. It's a decent signing: some upside, not a lot of risk.
Signing Tom Crabtree to a two-year deal
Tom Crabtree's an interesting player. He's a special teams player with some value on offense. He's versatile, but a little undersized and not particularly physically gifted. A fan favorite, he'll likely compete for snaps with the tight ends already on the roster. He's not great, but he's not bad. Another decent depth signing, depending on the price of the contract.
Letting Michael Bennett walk
I'm starting to develop a theory on how the Buccaneers want to do business going forward: they want to eliminate the middle class of their roster. They have a lot of very highly paid players, and a lot of guys earning less than $3 million per year. Not a lot of players in between, though. As Stephen Holder noted: they're paying top dollar for top players. Michael Bennett is a good player, a very good player in fact, but he's not a top player.
But this is a stupid tactic. Signing Bennett to a deal worth more than $5 million per year would have been a very good move to lock up a young, quality run defender and pass rusher who's still getting better.
Letting Roy Miller go
This isn't disastrous. Miller was a solid run stopper, but he's also a replaceable player. I would have preferred to have seen him back, but this isn't the end of the world.
Trading Arrelious Benn
The Buccaneers traded Benn to the Eagles to essentially move up from the seventh to the sixth round in the draft. That's not a big return for a player who still has upside, but struggled to fit into this offense. The Bucs did get $1.3 million in cap space out of this deal, although they didn't exactly need that. I don't really like letting young, talented but struggling players go for nothing.
Not grabbing any cornerbacks
The Buccaneers main need going into the offseason: cornerback. The number of cornerbacks added since the start of the offseason: -3 (E.J. Biggers, Brandon McDonald and Ronde Barber saw their contracts expire). This is bad. Especially so in a soft market for cornerbacks.
Grade: Big ol' F
Overall Grade: C-
Adding Dashon Goldson was good and I like most of the cheap signings, but the rest of this free agency period baffles me. Letting Michael Bennett walk, and neglecting to add any cornerbacks? Those are two questionable moves to say the least, and seeing Roy Miller sign elsewhere isn't going to help their cause either. Overall, I don't get the feeling that the Buccaneers are now an improved team. They surely have a plan and free agency isn't over yet -- but this has not been a great start so far.