The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were active in free agency again on Friday, signing two veteran defenders in Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers. Both players have been very productive in recent seasons, but they're also both on the wrong side of 30, and the contracts they signed aren't exactly cheap.
Sidenote: I miss the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throwback jerseys. Brent Grimes made one of the best plays in his career against the Bucs when they were wearing those jerseys in 2010. Grimes picked off Josh Freeman at the two-minute warning, ending the team's hopes of winning that game. That one interception may have single-handedly prevented the Bucs from reaching the playoffs that year.
It feels like those grading the Bucs' recent signings have been thinking about games like that, as they suddenly like what the Bucs did yesterday after blasting them for their moves earlier in the week.
The Bucs signed Grimes in part because of his connections with Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter, but mostly because he's a veteran cornerback who probably has one or two decent years left in the tank. The Bucs shelled out quite a bit for a 33-year-old, but it seems the media actually feels pretty positively about this signing.
Greg Bedard over at Sports Illustrated liked the move.
Details: Two-year deal. After being released by the Dolphins, the veteran cornerback found a home on the other side of the state. Grimes, entering his 10th season, is still an upper-echelon cover corner who has good ball skills and is not afraid to mix it up physically. He'll turn 33 in July, so the worry is that he'll drop off quickly. But the Bucs are such a mess in the secondary, he's very much a needed addition. Grade: B+
Shockingly, Walter Football more or less liked this deal, giving the Buccaneers a B-.
Ayers, like Grimes, is an old player who got a fairly expensive contract. Unlike Grimes, he hasn't had a lot of success in the past -- aside from the last couple of years, that is. And yet, the media likes this signing too, mostly. Bill Barnwell's the only one who didn't, giving the Bucs a C.
In their perennial search for a pass-rusher, the Bucs eventually settled on the best player from one of the league's worst pass rushes. Ayers was one of the few success stories from the Giants' forays into free agency over the past couple years, having emerged as a viable run defender before he posted his best season as a pass-rusher in 2015. Ayers put up nine sacks and 22 quarterback hits in 12 games -- impressive numbers after he failed to post more than 5.5 sacks in a single season up to that point in his career.
It's possible Tampa Bay has found a solution, and at three years and $19.5 million, the price isn't too distressing. It's more likely, though, that the Buccaneers are paying for a career year from the 30-year-old Ayers and will likely get a more typical five-sack season from him. That isn't enough to justify $6 million-plus per year.
Greg Bedard loved this signing though, giving the Bucs an A. Walter Football also liked this deal, giving the Bucs a B+. It's a miracle!