What’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest need this offseason? Generally speaking, the answer is assumed to be wide receiver. With Vincent Jackson leaving, the Bucs have only one outside receiver in Mike Evans, with Adam Humphries as a competent supplementary slot receiver.
Not everyone agrees, though, which is why we’ve seen a fairly big variety in picks in mock drafts. And at least one offseason analyst looks elsewhere, too. According to Rotoworld’s Evan Silva, the Bucs should first look to fill the hole at defensive back.
The Bucs’ biggest secondary need is safety, where SS Bradley McDougald’s contract is up and fellow free agent FS Chris Conte lost his job to Keith Tandy, who is now entering a contract year. While RCB Vernon Hargreaves finished his rookie year strong, Tampa Bay also needs a slot corner upgrade and a young prospect to groom behind aging LCB Brent Grimes.
Silva has a point, especially when it comes to safety. The Bucs have exactly one starter on the roster right now at that position, and Keith Tandy has limited experience in that role. There’s a chance his performance last year was mostly due to a small sample size, and he’ll revert back to being a useful but limited rotational player.
As for cornerback, I don’t see how that’s a need at all. Vernon Hargreaves had a decent rookie year, Brent Grimes looked like one of the best cornerbacks in football last year, Jude Adjei-Barimah continued to develop nicely, and undrafted rookie Javien Elliott did well with limited playing time. Sure, they’re likely to cut ties with Alterraun Verner and they could use some depth, but this is not a major need.
Safety, though, is certainly a need, albeit one that’s somewhat easily filled. They should be able to re-sign Bradley McDougald and Chris Conte on the cheap, if that’s the route they’re going, and that’d solve that. The position may be a priority in terms of the size of the roster hole, but not in terms of how difficult it’ll be to fill adequately.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs were to try to get some new blood at the position, to take their defense to the next level. They’re most likely to do that through the draft, though there’s a few free agents that might fit them as well.
Overall, though, their main priority should be finding a complement for Mike Evans, someone to help take Jameis Winston’s play to the next level.