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Buccaneers 2016 free agents: Who comes back and who doesn't?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already starting their offseason work. Priority number one: figure out which free agents are worth re-signing and which ones can be allowed to leave. Let's take a look at the Bucs' free agents this offseason.

Unrestricted free agents

These players are free to sign with any team as soon as free agency opens in March, though the Bucs have exclusive negotiating rights for the next two months.

Those who should be re-signed

RB Doug Martin

No clue how I missed this guy initially, but obviously he has to be brought back.

CB Sterling Moore

Had a good season at cornerback, or at least as good a season as any Buccaneers cornerback had. Really the only reliable player out of the bunch and the Bucs can't really afford to let him go. And while he played reasonably well, he's not going to get prime money on the free agent market so re-signing him should be pretty doable.

Those who could be brought back

S Chris Conte

Played reasonably well within the confines of the defense, but was never a difference maker. Given the Bucs' struggles in the secondary, bringing him back wouldn't be a horrible idea: he's familiar with the defense, didn't make many mistakes and should be fairly cheap.

DT Henry Melton

Looked pretty mediocre as a backup three-technique, but is still useful depth at his age. Not a necessary re-signing, but would make some sense to bring him back if the price is right.

RB Bobby Rainey

The Bucs have two quality running backs, but Rainey is reliable depth. He was the Bucs' primary returner this past season and did well when he got his hands on the ball. He also had a few too many muffed punts. Could probably get a better opportunity in free agency, but would be useful on the Bucs roster.

S Keith Tandy

Has a knack for big plays but not really the physical talent to be an every-down starter. Also has an annoying habit of taking horrible angles to the ball from a deep safety position. Useful in sub packages and could be re-signed as a part-time player.

Offseason depth at most

CB Mike Jenkins

After spending his first year with the Bucs on injured reserve, played some horrible football whenever he got on the field in 2015. Shouldn't be brought back, but Lovie Smith seems to be infatuated with his athleticism.

DE Larry English

Spent the season on injured reserve, hasn't been overly productive. Might be brought back as offseason competition if he comes very cheaply, and he'd have to have a strong offseason to make the roster.

DT Da'Quan Bowers

Only on the roster as a last-minute backup. Didn't stand out over the last few games, but could have some use as a backup defensive tackle. Might return as offseason roster depth.

DT Tony McDaniel

Old and played mostly up-and-down football. Assuming Akeem Spence and Clinton McDonald come back healthy, there's not really any room for him on the roster outside of offseason depth.

Restricted free agents

The Buccaneers can get players with three accrued NFL seasons back by tendering them a one-year offer. Other teams can make them offers, but the Bucs will get a chance to match that offer. Those tenders come with either a first-round pick, a second-round pick or original-round tender -- higher tenders come with higher salaries. If the player signs with another team and the Bucs don't match the offer, they would get a draft pick equivalent to that tender. This basically never happens, however, and teams usually work out trade terms instead -- as the Bucs did with the Lions for George Johnson last season.

In practical terms, the Bucs will be paying about $1.6 million to every restricted free agent they tender, which may be too much for some of these players.

FB Jorvorskie Lane

Suffered a bad broken leg and the Bucs aren't going to re-sign him until that's healed -- and then at a much lower number than the tender, probably.

LB Danny Lansanah

Was a useful strongside linebacker this year and should return on a tender to solidify a very strong linebacking corps. At 30, he shouldn't get much interest from other teams.

S Bradley McDougald

Started 15 games this season, though he did start losing playing time at the end of the season. Still, should be tendered and back. May even be the most likely restricted free agent to be poached by other teams.

WR Russell Shepard

Special teams ace who has some potential as a receiver, though the Bucs rarely use him that way with just three catches (one touchdown) this year. Likely to be back, though perhaps on a cheaper contract than a tender.

Exclusive rights free agents

These players can be tendered at close to minimum salaries, and cannot be offered a contract by other teams.

LB Jeremiah George

Got almost no playing time and is mostly a special teamer. Still, why not have him around for the offseason?

LS Andrew DePaola

No bad snaps and did his job well, so he's likely to be back.

DE T.J. Fatinikun

Spent almost the entire season either injured and inactive or on injured reserve. Showed potential in 2014, though, so should be back for at least the offseason.

DE Jacquies Smith

The Bucs' best pass-rushing defensive end, which doesn't make him dominant but does make him a very useful rotational player, even though he struggled with injuries throughout the season. Will definitely be back.