Buccaneers free agency grades: Grading Tampa Bay's day one efforts

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a very busy first day of free agency. So how did they do, exactly?

No team was as active as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the first day of free agency. Four signings and another two re-signings, as well as all of the Darrelle Revis trade/release maneuvering that's still going on. After one day, it's time to step back a little and see how they did in the first stage of free agency.

So, let's get to grading!

DE Michael Johnson, 5 years, $42.75 million, $24 million guaranteed

Grade: B

Michael Johnson was the top pass-rusher left on the market, and the Bucs swooped in and scored well before the official start of free agency. Johnson's not quite the dominant edge rusher the Bucs prefer, but he's the closest thing to that available in free agency.

Still, there are some concerns. His 3.5 sacks last season are an obvious red flags, although he did still put up a very good 61 quarterback pressures, per Pro Football Focus' measures. It may mean he has some trouble finishing a move and converting pressure to sacks -- but getting pressure in the first place would be a pretty big upgrade for the Bucs, anyway.

Usually, teams overpay for the top pass rushers available in free agency, but the Bucs did no such thing. Johnson's $8.5 million per year contract is just slightly more than half the $16 million per year Mario Williams got two seasons ago. It's not close to the top of the market, but simply the kind of  money a good but not dominant edge rusher gets.

CB Alterraun Verner, 4 years, $26.5 million, $14 million guaranteed

Grade: A

Alterraun Verner was not quite the top cornerback on the market, but he came pretty close. And that is, once again, reflected in his salary: it's good money, but it doesn't come close to the deals signed by Brent Grimes, Aqib Talib and *shudder* Darrelle Revis over the past two years. Value.

Verner's a good cornerback, but he has some flaws, especially in man coverage, as he lacks deep speed in coverage. He has the talent to get better, though, and he's still very young. More importantly, he fits Lovie Smith very well: he's an aggressive ball-hawk who will force turnovers and is at his best with a safety playing behind him. He can play in every kind of coverage, though, and should be a great fit opposite Johnthan Banks.

DT Clinton McDonald, four years, $12 million, $4.75 million guaranteed

Grade: B-

This is another outstanding bit of value. McDonald notched 5.5 sacks last year as a rotational pass rusher playing 51% of the Seahawks' snaps. He figures to be a backup three-technique in Tampa, with perhaps some potential as a nose tackle.

It's perhaps a bit much to pay for a likely backup/role player, which is why this signing does not get an A, but it's still very good value for an underrated player.

TE Brandon Myers, two years, $4 million, $2 million guaranteed

Grade: C

The Buccaneers needed depth at the tight end position, as well as a starter, really. I'm not sure whether Myers is really starter material -- he's a solid all-around player, but is not outstanding at anything and won't be a downfield threat as a receiving tight end. He should at least be a valuable backup and rotational player alongside Tim Wright and Tom Crabtree, however.

T Jamon Meredith, two years; CB Danny Gorrer, one year

Grade: B

It's difficult to truly grade these moves without some more details on their contracts, but both players are solid backups. It's good depth, and those kinds of re-signings are essential for any roster.

Overall grade: B+

There's no singular, outstanding, team-changing addition here, but the Bucs added two outstanding players and two solid role-players along with some quality depth, all for very good value. They didn't overpay anywhere, and they upgraded their roster across the board. That's a pretty good first day of free agency.

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