For 30 of the 32 teams in the NFL, the offseason is officially in full-swing. Teams are currently evaluating their own rosters in order to determine which contracts to renew and they are also evaluating potential free agents from the outside. As the weeks continue, affirmations and decisions will be made when it comes to the future of many players.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will most certainly look at brining in some outside of help in hopes of elevating the team’s 7-9 record from 2019. There are multiple avenues to take and multiple options to take when it comes to certain positions on the roster, but one of the more important areas to fill would be that of the safety position. The Bucs currently have five safeties on their roster in 2020, and one of them - Justin Evans - hasn’t played a single down in almost two years. Jordan Whitehead and D’cota Dixon both finished the year on IR (Dixon never got out of training camp), while Mike Edwards struggled in his rookie year.
Outside of Whitehead, the unit mostly struggled in 2019. It’s easy to see why the Bucs would consider adding a safety either through free agency or the NFL Draft. One name that has cropped over the last few days has been veteran safety Eric Berry.
Berry was one of the league’s top safeties before an Achilles injury took him down just one game into the 2017 season. He tried to play in a few games during the 2018 season, but it was to no avail. When the start of the 2019 season came around Berry decided to take the year off, despite fielding several offers from teams interested in his service(s).
He’s one of the most versatile safeties in the league. His 14 career picks, 5.5 career sacks, and 445 combined tackles are evidence of his ability. He can play the pass, the run, and rush the passer. It’s what helped him land the six-year/$78 million deal before the start of the 2017 season.
Berry is ready to go in 2020 now that he’s recharged in both the mental and physical sense. There will be plenty of teams that will contact him over the next few weeks in hopes of luring the All-Pro into their grasp.
So what about the Bucs? Should they take a risk on Berry?
This ginger says no. Now, I don’t have any inside information on this. It’s all reasonable deduction and taking a look at the situation from the outside, so bear with me.
It all starts with Berry’s asking price, which I think will be pretty high. The deal he signed in 2016 was worth an average of $13 million per year. He will likely use his past production and the fact that he took 2019 off as a negotiating point to get close to that number. For his career, he’s averaged close to $10.5 million per year.
Some will point to the time off, the injuries, and the fact that he’s 31 as reasons why he would take an affordable deal, but to me, I see the opposite. I see a guy who knows he’s who has his back against a wall and is running out of time. He will look to make as much money as he possibly can, and I don’t blame him.
If he was receiving offers in 2019, then that means his market still holds value. Why would that change in 2020?
The Bucs currently have the third-most cap space available, but a lot of that will get chewed up if they end up re-signing players like Jameis Winston, Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, and others. If Berry want anything close to what he’s made over his career, then the Bucs will likely have to sacrifice some depth in order to make the move work.
But even then there is no guarantee that Berry will be even close to his former self in 2020. It’s a major risk that could pay very few dividends if it doesn’t work out.
On the other hand, the Bucs could have a shot at landing one of the league’s better safeties over the last few years. Todd Bowles and his secondary would get a bonafide leader and playmaker if things were to work out, which would be a tremendous boost to this young secondary.
It will all come down to evaluation and we will probably even hear Berry’s name floated around at team workouts at some point. But until the day comes where we receive concrete evidence that Berry is on his way back, the Bucs should just keep the ship in the current waters it’s in - which is building a foundation for this team to rely on in the coming years.
What do you think? Should the Bucs bring in Berry? How much does cost play a factor? Let us know in the comments below!!