The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to have over $70 million in cap space this offseason, and that’s before making some cuts to free up more space. Alterraun Verner and his $6 million salary are prime targets there.
All that salary cap space doesn’t mean the Bucs can actually spend that, though. They may want to extend Mike Evans, and they’ll likely bring back a few players set to leave in free agency, but that still leaves a whole lot of money — and not a lot of quality free agents to spend it on.
If we look at NFL.com’s top 25 free agents list, for instance, it’s filled with players who simply won’t hit the market. Le’Veon Bell, Eric Berry, Chandler Jones, Kawann Short, Melvin Ingram — none of these are likely to actually hit the market, even though they’d look great in a Bucs uniform. All of their teams can re-sign them, and they have or can make the space to do so easily.
So who are the Bucs more likely to target? There’s Alshon Jeffery, the current Chicago Bears receiver, who of all the top free agents is most likely to actually hit free agency. But Jeffery is less an explosive threat than a possession receiver, and the Bucs need to prepare to pay Mike Evans a ton of money, too.
DeSean Jackson might make a little more sense, though he’s not the type of player Dirk Koetter tends to prefer. There’s also Terrelle Pryor, but it’s hard to see the Cleveland Browns letting their one good player walk.
The aging Calais Campbell would be an interesting target to place next to Gerald McCoy, though age and scheme fit would be question marks there. Jason Pierre-Paul would be an interesting target as well, though he may get in the way of Noah Spence’s development. Martellus Bennett might be a good fit at tight end, too.
Most worrying for the Bucs is a total lack of intriguing safeties and centers, even though those are the two positions where the Bucs need the most help. The Cardinals’ Tony Jefferson could be a useful cog, but that’s about it. Barry Church isn’t a great scheme fit, and too similar to Bradley McDougald and Keith Tandy to be of much added value.
In other words, the Bucs may want to spend, but they’re probably not going to walk out of free agency with any big names. I’d expect some added depth instead. Which is not too bad — but it’s not going to transform this team, either.