The Bucs have made their move in first wave of NFL Free Agency. By re-signing many of their own as well as Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein, Vinny Curry, Ryan Jensen and Chandler Catanzaro, the Bucs have about $22 million left (per Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman). $6 million of that is typically reserved for the draft picks. Barring any cuts or trades, that leaves Tampa Bay with about $15 million to play with.
With that in mind, the Bucs are putting their focus into the 2018 NFL Draft, as GM Jason Licht has begun to head to Pro Days, the first being edge rushing phenom Bradley Chubb.
Who Might the Bucs Be Targeting?
With the 7th overall pick in the NFL draft, Tampa Bay is wishing very hard that at least three quarterbacks are selected among the first six picks of the draft – and if they’re really lucky – maybe four.
If four go Tampa Bay may actually have a realistic shot at one of the marquee talents, Bradely Chubb, running back Saquon Barkley or guard Quenton Nelson – all at need positions for the Bucs.
At worst, if three quarterbacks are selected, Tampa Bay should still be in good position to select an impact player, including a Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James or Denzel Ward.
Other pass rushers on the Bucs radar include Boston College’s Harold Landry and UTSA’s Marcus Davenport. Landry is a little smaller than the prototypical defensive end at 6’3″ 252lbs, he might be better suited as a 3-4 OLB. In his junior season he was among the top 5 nationally with 16.5 sacks but his numbers took a dive during an injury plagued senior season (ankle injury).
Davenport has all the measurables, but struggled against top competition early on at the Senior Bowl. Some question whether his small school dominance can translate to the NFL.
The Bucs could also entertain a trade down with a team wanting that fourth quarterback but not having enough draft capital to get into the top five. If that’s case, DT Vita Vea and the aforementioned Landry and Davenport come into play.
The latest NFL rumors has Buffalo trying to trade into the Giants’ #2 overall spot in the draft. That would all but guarantee the first three picks are quarterbacks.
Cleveland has been penciled it with Saquon Barkley at #4. Denver made an investment into Case Keenum but do need a long term answer at QB as they appear to have given up on Paxton Lynch. They seem to really like Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.
Indianapolis is as desperate for pass rush help as Tampa Bay but also need help along the offensive line to protect the brittle Andrew Luck. Nelson could be the play for them, leaving Chubb to the Bucs – or he’ll be long gone.
One thing’s for certain – day one is going to be the circus it always is.
Are the Bucs Done in Free Agency?
The first wave and the big money spending is done. Of course, Ndamukong Suh is the name everyone is watching and you can expect he’ll sign a big-time deal with somebody. I wouldn’t expect it to be the Bucs. According to Pewter Report’s sources, there’s concern that McCoy and Suh may have trouble co-existing in the same locker room.
Personally, I think Gerald just wants to win and if Suh can help with that then I don’t think it would be a problem. Who knows?
Still, I think the Bucs are done big fish gaming and now will look for bargain deals. The safety market seems to be depressed this free agency period with a bunch of solid names still out there like 49ers safety Eric Reid, Former Saint Kenny Vaccaro, Cardinals’ Tyvonn Branch and the Chargers’ Tre Boston.
The Bucs were connected early one to former Bills CB EJ Gaines but there’s been little movement since. If his price tag comes down, he may be a target. Former Washington CB Bashaud Breeland, Saints’ CB Sterling Moore and Giants veteran CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could also be targets. There’s also still a chance Robert McClain can return to the Bucs.
I certainly wouldn’t expect a deal that will break the bank.
It was previously reported that DE Vinny Curry’s deal had a $9 million per year salary. However, under deeper inspection, it appears the actual base of the deal is $6.5 million with incentives that could take it up to $9 million, per Greg Auman.
Vinny Curry’s deal with Bucs also has incentives based on sacks and team making playoffs, which can get it up to three years, $27-million. But for now, Curry is $6.5m for 2018, barely more than Ayers was at $6.0m.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) March 20, 2018
This makes the deal look a lot better from a salary cap perspective.