It looks like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to do a little more post-holiday shopping when free agency is officially underway in March.
According to multiple sources, it could be an offensive overload for the Buccaneers, who narrowly missed the playoffs in 2016 are poised to take another step forward in the NFC South. Entering the 2017 offseason, the Buccaneers have the fifth-most cap room of any team at just north of $61.9 million, per Over The Cap. Though they have holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, an upgrade outside of Mike Evans at wide receiver is necessary.
That’s a lot of dough to play with and a few pressing issues to cover.
What we do know is Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston wants to play pass and catch with DeSean Jackson next season. That’s a great thing for Buccaneers fans as the idea of a duo with Mike Evans would give this team one of the best wide receiver tandems in the NFL.
Despite Winston leading the Bucs to the outside fringe of the postseason, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were just middle of the pack in terms of their passing offense in 2016. With 3,926 passing yards total on the year, they ranked 16th in the league (Pro Football Reference). They were middle of the road as well in terms of yards per attempt, ranking 16th in that category as well at 7.2 per. Considering their propensity for throwing deep, that speaks to the lack of consistency in doing so, which can be attributed simply to a lack of weapons capable of making plays reliably in such situations.
Wide receiver might be first on the team’s “wish” list, but it isn’t the only thing management and head coach Dirk Koetter will work to improve in the coming weeks. Here are four players the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should go after in free agency.
Adrian Peterson, Running Back – There has been plenty of speculation last year was the last time the Vikings and Peterson were committed to their relationship. Now, one of the NFL’s best backs will hit the open market with rumors circulating Peterson will wind up with the New York Giants. If he does not find his way to the Big Apple, Tampa Bay may be a nice alternative.
Doug Martin was suspended last season and when healthy, is one of the better runners in the NFL. Peterson makes this offense even better.
The only thing that concerns me is a player on the downside of his career playing with an offense that has an unstable line.
Tony Jefferson – Jefferson will come with a price – $7 million. But he may be well worth it. Per Buc Nation, Jefferson somehow stayed in Arizona the last offseason after the Cardinals placed a low tender on the safety. No teams came calling to match the offer, leading him to remain with the Cardinals. After a terrific 2016 season, he’ll be much more of a priority. The Buccaneers have a clear need at safety, and Jefferson is exactly the rangy ball hawk they could use.
Can he and last year’s first-round pick, Vernon Hargreaves, could help make the Buccaneers secondary formidable.
Dontari Poe – The Kansas City Chiefs will make every effort to sign Poe, who has been reported to be of bigger importance than Eric Berry.
This off-season, the Bucs could possibly lose defensive end Will Gholston to free agency if the two sides disagree on contract numbers, and that could be a big cog lost. Not to mention sack artist Jacquies Smith is coming off a major knee injury.
Poe helps plug the middle and will also help with run defense. Poe will also be 27, which falls into the age range team general manager Jeremy Licht is looking for – players in their prime. Add Poe to the big names this team will take a long hard look at.
Terrelle Pryor – He isn’t DeSean Jackson, but could make an interesting target for the Bucs if they cannot bring D-Jax to west Florida.
Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns in his first full season as a receiver. He looked explosive and full of potential if a bit raw at the edges. He’d be a nice complement to Mike Evans — another big-bodied, powerful and fast wide receiver
If this is a sign of things to come for Pryor’s pro career, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be a nice place for him to develop around a young core of offensive talent.