Like the rest of us, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be watching the NFL Playoffs this year. Unlike the rest of us, the Bucs have a chance of making it to the post-season next year, and could potentially do so using the assistance of some guys getting a little playoff experience in 2020.
As the Buffalo Bills travel to face the Houston Texans, here are some guys doing so on expiring contracts who could become targets of Jason Licht and the Buccaneers when the new league year begins in early March.
2020 FREE-AGENTS: BUFFALO BILLS
OLB, Lorenzo Alexander (37) LB, Maurice Alexander (30)
G, Isaac Asiata (27) FS, Kurt Coleman (32)
TE, Jason Croom (26) WR, Robert Foster (26)
RB, Frank Gore (37) CB, Kevin Johnson (28)
DE, SHAQ LAWSON (26) DT, Corey Liuget (30)
C, Spencer Long (29) SS, Dean Marlowe (28)
WR, Isaiah McKenzie (25) RB, Senorise Perry (28)
DT, Jordan Phillips (27) G, Quinton Spain (29)
OLB, Julian Stanford (29) RT, LaAdrian Waddle (29)
CB, Levi Wallace (25)
FREE-AGENT FOCUS: DE, SHAQ LAWSON
Back-up defensive end isn’t what the Buffalo Bills thought they were drafting in 2016 when they took Shaq Lawson with the 16th overall pick, but they did.
Now, a year after having his fifth-year option declined, Lawson will enter the post-season with seventeen career starts and 16.5 sacks in his four years with Buffalo. There are members of Bills Mafia who want their team to re-sign the 25-year old defensive end, but then again, the former first-rounder may depart upstate New York looking for a better opportunity elsewhere.
As a 4-3 defensive end, Lawson hasn’t been able to fulfill the potential so many saw in him coming out of Clemson. In fact, as part of an assignment while working towards my Bachelor’s Degree, I did a TED Talk style presentation explaining why the Buccaneers themselves should take Lawson with their first-round pick that year.
Instead, they took Vernon Hargreaves III who will be suiting up on the other sideline from Lawson this weekend.
This off-season, there may be a chance for my projections in 2016 to become a reality in 2020. If the Bucs were to entertain signing Lawson, he would likely transition into an outside linebacker in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 based scheme. He’d come in similar to Shaquil Barrett in 2019, as a young defender with potential needing an opportunity to earn playing time.
Barrett certainly made good on his opportunity to thrive under Bowles, so why not bring in another Shaq, to see if he can’t go Shaq-to-Shaq on free-agent additions? Sorry. Had to.
2020 FREE-AGENTS: HOUSTON TEXANS
FS, Mike Adams (39) OLB, Tyrell Adams (28)
SS, Jahleel Addae (30) WR, DeAndre Carter (27)
OT, Chris Clark (34) ILB, Dylan Cole (26)
DT, Brandon Dunn (27) K, Ka’imi Fairbairn (26)
TE, Darren Fells (34) CB, Phillip Gaines (29)
RB, CARLOS HYDE (28) OT, Roderick Johnson (24)
RB, Taiwan Jones (32) CB, Johnathan Joseph (36)
QB, A.J. McCarron (29) RB, Lamar Miller (29)
OLB, Barkevious Mingo (29) DT, D.J. Reader (26)
CB, Bradley Roby (28) QB, Joe Webb (33)
LS, Jon Weeks (34)
FREE-AGENT FOCUS: RB, CARLOS HYDE
Carlos Hyde is past the days where a team will likely look at him as their lone backfield attacker, but he’s still very capable. Evidenced by the fact he’s coming off his first thousand-yard season in his sixth NFL season.
Sharing touches with Duke Johnson didn’t keep Hyde from putting up some solid numbers, and if the Texans don’t strike a deal with him before free-agency, he’s likely to land with a team looking to boost their own running attack. The Bucs are just such a team.
Tampa Bay’s defense was able to hold Hyde to a microscopic 1.6 yards per carry average in their match-up against the Houston Texans this season, but outside of that game, Hyde had just four games where he averaged under three yards per carry.
In addition to some career highs in the running game, Hyde has shown an ability to be a pass catcher out of the backfield, even if it’s not something teams lean on him heavily for.
Keep an eye on Hyde and how he does against a middle-of-the-pack Bills run defense allowing 4.3 yards per carry in the 2019-2020 season.
Hyde and Lawson are just a couple of the potential free-agents taking the field for Wild Card Weekend as the Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans take part in the elimination game.
Let us know your thoughts on both of these guys, as well as any of the other upcoming free-agents you’ll be keeping an eye on.
We’ll be back with more looks at the teams competing in the 2019-20 NFL Playoffs!