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NFL Rumors: Olivier Vernon hits free agency, are Buccaneers interested?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Olivier Vernon's transition tag has been rescinded and he'll hit free agency this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET. With Charles Johnson, Mario Williams and Jason Pierre-Paul already off the market, Vernon is the top edge rusher on the market and should command a high salary -- I've seen estimates that start at $15 million per year.

The question now is whether the Buccaneers will be interested in Vernon. On the one hand, the Bucs have repeatedly signaled that they don't want to be big spenders despite nearly $60 million in cap space. Both Pewter Report and Greg Auman think it unlikely the Bucs will get into the bidding for Vernon -- at least at anywhere close to that $15 million per year price tag. Rick Stroud thinks the Bucs have to think about it, but he too would be surprised if they sign him at that price tag.

On the other hand, Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune expects the Buccaneers to "take a run at" the edge rusher, while Gil Arcia of The Bay Cave reports the Buccaneers will pursue him aggressively. Neither indicates how far the Bucs would be willing to go, though. With the

Vernon has 29 sacks in four seasons, and just 14 over the past two seasons -- but he's excelled at pressuring the quarterback, notching 30 hits and 41 hurries per Pro Football Focus' charting. The last time Jason Licht signed a free agent defensive end who struggled to get to the quarterback but did rack up pressures, the result wasn't pretty: that was Michael Johnson.