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Best remaining free agents for the Buccaneers

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Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had a pretty decent first few days of free agency. They signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive lineman Chris Baker, and re-signed running back Jacquizz Rodgers and safety Chris Conte.

They weren’t able to hold on to wide receiver/special teamer Russell Shepard, though, while backup quarterback Mike Glennon got a massive contract with the Chicago Bears. They haven’t found a replacement for the core special teamer, but tendered backup Ryan Griffin will replace Glennon.

But the Bucs aren’t done yet, so who else could they target in free agency? Let’s look at a few players who are still available

TE Martellus Bennett

The Bucs have one solid receiving tight end in Cameron Brate, but they’ve expressed interest in finding a more explosive receiver who can also block — those guys are pretty rare, which is why Bennett would be an interesting target.

Of course, Bennett would be pretty expensive, and the Bucs do not like expensive players. Add in the fact that the draft is filled with quality tight ends like O.J. Howard and David Njoku, and they’re more likely to look there than go after Bennett.

Likelihood: 10%

RB Eddie Lacy

The Bucs re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers, but Doug Martin’s future is obscure, to say the least. If they can get someone like Lacy, or perhaps DeAngelo Williams to come in they wouldn’t have to look at the draft, and they’d have plenty of insurance for Martin.

If a signing like that is going to happen, though, it’s more likely to come after the draft, in the lead-up to the regular season when the Bucs have a clearer picture of where Martin stands, and what they need at running back — and when these backs would come cheaper, too.

Likelihood: 5%

S J.J. Wilcox

The box safety is coming in for a visit, reportedly, and he would add some much-needed depth to one of the most decimated position groups on the roster. He probably won’t be a full-time starter, but as a rotational player he’d make a lot of sense.

Likelihood: 50%

DE Jabaal Sheard

The Bucs could use a boost to their edge rush, with Jacquies Smith and Noah Spence as the only reliable edge rush specialists on the roster right now — and Smith is coming off an ACL injury, so who knows how well he’ll do?

Sheard had 13 sacks the past two years with the New England Patriots as a part-time player, and is the kind of free agent Jason Licht tends to like: reasonably productive, not too expensive, with some upside. The Bucs haven’t been linked to him, though, and whether they target will largely depend on how they see both the draft and Smith.

Likelihood: 20%

Their own free agents

The Bucs noted before free agency that they’d like to retain basically every single one of their free agents, though they’re not willing to overspend to do so. Those free agents are now testing the market and some of them are likely to leave, but others may still return.

Safety Bradley McDougald would be a sensible re-signing, but the Bucs may be looking at J.J. Wilcox to replace him. Similarly, they’d like center Joe Hawley to return, but they’re also fine with going with Evan Smith or Ali Marpet at center if he can’t be re-signed. Don’t expect the Bucs to fall over themselves to hang on to these players.

The most likely re-signing is cornerback Josh Robinson, a core special teamer who looked decent on defense last year.