The Buccaneers came into this offseason with a lot of money to spend. They had over 70 million dollars of cap space and many fans were expecting and hoping for the big names such as CBs Trumaine Johnson or Malcolm Butler, G Andrew Norwell and many others. However, the Bucs tested the patience of most fans (including myself at times) and decided to not spend big money on those players but instead let the market work itself out and then get in on the action. Before they did that though, they were able to lock of key players such as Mike Evans, Cameron Brate and Brent Grimes to contract extensions. Lets see how they shook out and what kind of grade I gave those moves.
Mike Evans- The Bucs were able to sign one of the best players on the team to a 5 year, 82.5 million dollar deal with 55 million guaranteed. This is a very good deal for the Buccaneers as I think that getting Mike Evans for 5 years at a annual salary of 16.5 million is very fair. It was smart of Jason Licht to get this deal done as fast as he did. Other receivers like Odell Beckham JR, Jarvis Landry, Michael Thomas are all in for big pay days and will likely get more than Evans is making right now. Grade- A
Cameron Brate- TE Cameron Brate has been one of the Bucs best players that past two seasons. He was a undrafted Free Agent that Licht found. Brate worked hard to get this far, and he was rewarded with a 6 year contract worth 41 million dollars with 18 of it guaranteed. This is a steal for a guy like Brate, he has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL and is making 6.8 million dollars per year while a guy like Trey Burton just signed with the Bears and will be making 8 million dollars a year. Brate is gonna be a Buc for a long time and he deserves it. Grade- A
Brent Grimes- The Buccaneers are not that deep at cornerback. Vernon Hargreaves took a step back last year, Robert McClain is a UFA and Ryan Smith struggled a lot last season. Translation? The Bucs could NOT afford to lose Brent Grimes. He is still one of the best corners in the league and the Bucs thought the same as they gave him a 1 year deal worth 10 million dollars (3 million of that can be earned with incentives) Grimes is back and it really helps the defense. The Bucs still need another Corner, but if Grimes walked it would have been an even worse situation. Grade- A-
There were other players that got extensions such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Adarius Glanton, Adam Humphries and Javien Elliot.
Beau Allen- Allen was the Buccaneers first signing of the free agent period. Allen and the Buccaneers agreed to a 3 year deal worth 15 million dollars. Allen is not known for his pass rush but he is a very good run stuffer. While the pass rush was a big problem for the Bucs, another problem was the run defense and Allen should help with that. Allen also brings that nastiest that the Bucs have been lacking for a long time. This is a solid deal for a solid player. Grade- B+
Chandler Catanzaro- This is going to be pretty obvious, but the Bucs have a kicking problem and have had a kicking problem for quite some time now. So they took another crack at fixing it by signing former Cardinals and Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro. Catanzaro was a perfect 29/29 on extra points last year and 25/30 on field goals. Now, I thought Patrick Murray did a solid job for the Bucs last year and should have been brought back, but it is a business and the Bucs didn’t feel comfortable enough with Murray as their guy. Let’s hope Catanzaro can end the curse. Grade- B
Mitch Unrein- Like I stated earlier, the Bucs run defense was a problem last year. They added another piece in former Bears lineman Mitch Unrein. Unrein is very versatile and can play DE or DT. He is very good at stopping the run and is very good depth. Grade- C+
Ryan Jensen- My personal favorite signing of the offseason, former Ravens center Ryan Jensen was one of the best centers in football last season. Jensen was also one of the top centers on the market and got paid like one. Jensen signed a 4 year, 42 million dollar deal with 22 million guaranteed. That contract made Jensen the highest paid center in the NFL. The reason I like this move so much is actually two reasons. The first reason being the way he plays, he plays nasty and tough and proves it every game. The other reason is since Jensen will be the center, then Ali Marpet can move back to original guard position. Marpet did a fine job at center last season, but he is a much better guard. The Bucs improved two positions with one signing. Grade- A
Vinny Curry- Breaking news, the Bucs Pass rush was not good this year. At all. The Bucs knew they needed to make some changes to their defensive line this offseason and they improved the run defense with the Allen and Unrein signings, but still needed to improve the pass rush. That is where Vinny Curry comes in. The former Eagle signed a 3 year, 27 million dollar deal with the Bucs about 5 minutes after the Bucs had cut veteran DE Robert Ayers. Now, Curry’s stats do not jump out at some people but what he did with the Eagles last year is some things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Curry is a very good run defender and is good at applying pressure to the QB. Just because he didn’t get many sacks does not mean he can’t rush the passer. He was one of the Eagles leaders in pressures this past season. The Bucs got an upgrade at DE and congrats to Jason Licht and jumping on this as fast as he could. Grade- A-
Well, this part of the article was not planned when I thought of doing this, but hey why not? The Bucs finally made a trade for a defensive end. After missing out on Robert Quinn (traded to Miami) and Michael Bennett (traded to Philly) the Bucs finally got a deal done. They sent their 2018 3rd round pick (pick 69) and their 2018 4th round pick (pick 108) to the New York Giants for DE Jason Pierre-Paul, or JPP and a 2018 4th round pick (pick 102) this is something the Bucs had to do and they did a good job. JPP is no sack master, but the 8.5 sacks he had last year is more than the Bucs defensive ends COMBINED had last year. The Bucs gave up a 3rd round pick, which is a valuable pick but name me a defensive end that is gonna be picked in the 3rd round and get 8.5 sacks. There isn’t one. Bucs also actually MOVE UP in the 4th round so I think this is a good deal for both sides. Grade- A
So that’s it. Jason Licht and Co were patient, but in the end it turned out okay. The Bucs have now set themselves up very good for the upcoming draft. They could trade down or pick BPA, wether that is FSU Safety Derwin James, NC State DE Bradley Chubb, or Notre Dame Guard Quenton Nelson. The Bucs are a much better football team now than they were a month ago. The Bucs will be fine, just remember to follow the Licht.