After everything on Sunday came up in the Buccaneers’ favor, they lost their first free agent just minutes after the NFL’s legal tampering period began on Monday.
Per multiple reports, Alex Cappa is set to sign a four-year, $40 million deal with the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals when the new league year begins on Wednesday. From ESPN’s Adam Schefter:
Tom Brady’s loss will be Joe Burrow’s gain: Bucs’ free-agent guard Alex Cappa intends to sign a four-year, $40 million deal with the Bengals after free agency opens, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2022
It’s not a surprising loss for Tampa Bay, but it does mean that the team will be replacing both of its starting guards this offseason after Cappa’s departure and Ali Marpet’s retirement. The Bucs will presumably address those holes in free agency and the draft, though they have already re-signed Aaron Stinnie to take one of the spots. Stinnie stepped in admirably for Cappa during the run to Super Bowl LV after the latter suffered a fractured ankle in the 2021 NFC Wild Card Round.
Cappa was drafted by the Bucs in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, coming out of Division II Humboldt State. He now moves on to Cincinnati, where he will upgrade the Bengals’ ability to protect 2021 Comeback Player of the Year Joe Burrow.
The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted that by losing Cappa, Tampa Bay could be in position to gain a fourth- or fifth-round compensatory draft pick, judging by last year’s standards. Of course, being awarded such a pick would depend on the Bucs’ activity in free agency, as Auman said:
Unless Bucs are more involved in signing free agents than expected, they'll do really well with comp picks from their free agent losses. Losing a $10m a year guy last year (like Cappa) got a team either a fourth or fifth-round comp pick. https://t.co/IisWW3XKDg— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 14, 2022