The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made two moves worth talking about in two days of NFL free agency: they re-signed Doug Martin, and they signed J.R. Sweezy. Both of those moves were welcomed by Bucs fans: 64% gave the Martin signing an A, while 52% gave Sweezy an A or a B.
The rest of the NFL analysts aren't overly impressed with what the Bucs have done, though. In fact, the Bucs are getting downright lousy reviews. That's an odd change of pace: the Bucs have been named free agency winners multiple times, most notably in 2012 and 2014 when they spent big in free agency. Those free agency classes didn't remotely work out -- Vincent Jackson really is the only truly positive signing in those seasons. So negative reviews are a bit new for Bucs fans.
Of course, we need not pretend that negative grades are a good thing. NFL analysts aren't perfect, but they certainly do have some knowledge. It's too easy to simply discount opinions we don't like, and the fact that no one other than Bucs fans and the Bucs themselves seems to like these moves is not actually positive.
On to the actual reviews.
ESPN really didn't like this move. Bill Barnwell not only gave Martin a D+ in his free agency grades, Kevin Seifert also named the deal as "instantly regrettable" in his day one recap column. Both had essentially identical rationales.
Doug Martin is an above-average NFL running back who has exceeded 1,400 yards in two of his four seasons -- and finished below 500 yards in his other two. He turned 27 earlier this month, an age that is just about the career peak for most running backs. Yet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Martin a five-year deal worth $7 million annually. Last year at this time, the Bucs were so unsure about Martin's future that they declined the fifth-year option in his contract. His new deal will soon mirror the mistakes other teams have made on DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy and others.
ESPN isn't the only one skeptical of the signing. Over at Sports Illustrated, Greg Bedard gave them a C for the signing. Walter Football, who seem to hate everything the Bucs do, gave this a Matt Millen grade (that's bad). Mark Maske of the Washington Post gave them a C-. At least Pro Football Focus liked it, giving the Bucs a B.
That's a pretty bad review for a move Bucs fans seem to universally approve of.
With the Doug Martin move heavily criticized, it should surprise no one that signing J.R. Sweezy wasn't exactly well-received either. Bedard gave them a C+ for that signing.
Details: Five-year, $32.5 million deal. Tampa Bay needed a veteran guard after Logan Mankins retired, and it got one in the former Seahawk. He's not comparable to Mankins, but Sweezy is a converted defensive tackle so his best football could still be in front of him if he develops better down-to-down consistency. Grade: C+
In all, analysts absolutely hate what the Bucs have done in free agency so far. It doesn't help that they haven't actually helped their defense -- you know, that part of the team that actually needed to improve the most.