NFL free agency comes in waves. The first moves will flood in as the negotiation period begins, and will continue until the start of the new league year in a few days. Things slow down a bit after that, but there’s always a next move.
That’s why it’s safe to say that the Bucks’ free agency period isn’t over just yet. Continue building.
That doesn’t mean the Bucks can’t appreciate what they’ve accomplished in free agency so far. Pro Football Focus recently scored all 32 teams For what they did in free agency, or at least that early wave, Tampa Bay got a solid ‘B’.
A look back at the early part of the Bucs’ free agency season
Tampa Bay started the offseason more than $56 million above the salary cap. As such, the team had to comply with the cap before any signing could take place. Vice President of Football Management Mike Greenberg has done an admirable job, creating enough space to launch free agency with some big moves.
The Bucs’ two biggest “additions” actually came in the form of two players they knew well.They kept cornerback Jamel Dean and gave him 4-year $52 million contract with $24.5 million guaranteedA few days later, they signed longtime captain and Bucks legend Labonte David on board for another year. The one-year, $7 million deal was a major free agency win for general manager Jason Licht and his staff.
The Bucks also re-signed key rotation pass rusher Anthony Nelson and guard Aaron Stinney. As far as true additions go, they added quarterback Baker Mayfield to compete with 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask, and veteran running back Chase Edmonds. On the defensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay brought in defensive tackle Greg Gaines. His three new additions are all under the “Value Sign” umbrella, but each has its own advantages as the team looks to win his third consecutive NFC South title this fall. there is.
What the PFF Says About the Tampa Bay Free Agency Move
It’s fair to say the PFF is pretty skeptical about adding Mayfield to the Bucks’ quarterback room. His performance from 2018 to 2020 was top 10 in the league for his position, but the publication has doubts about what he still has to offer.
“From 2018 to 2020, Mayfield’s 87.5 PFF grade was the ninth-best at this position, but it’s been so long that it’s been a long time since he’s been able to get his career off the ground as a starting quarterback. It’s natural to wonder if you can.”
Given how high the PFF was for the team that re-signed both Dean and David, that signing may have downgraded the Bucks’ free agency a bit. article He called Dean’s sticking with Tampa Bay “one of the surprises of the entire free agency period” and reaffirmed his status as “the top young cornerback on the market.”
“Over the past three seasons, Dean has ranked second only to Jaile Alexander and Jalen Ramsey in PFF coverage grades for the position. There he thrives as a big physical corner that can hit top outside wide receivers off the route.”
As for David, the PFF notes that at age 33, he’s “still one of the best off-ball linebackers in the NFL.”
“David has missed less than 10% of his tackle opportunities each of the last two seasons and has 57 defensive stops and five pass breaks in 2022. No, but their defense should still cause.Weak NFC South has a lot of problems.”
Where Bucs Gets Better at Free Agency
Bucs’ ‘B’ grade shows that there is room for improvement in the next wave of free agency — whether that wave is big or small. The Tampa Bay cap situation calls for a “find the best value possible” approach, and the team still has a lot of positioning needs.
One of the biggest puzzles the Bucks have to solve (through free agency, the draft, or both) is their offensive line. Part of their cap-cutting ruckus included the release of left tackle Donovan Smith, the starter of the past eight seasons, and the trade of last year’s team’s starting right guard, Shaq Mason.
Tampa Bay has plenty of interior options to fill the holes in the guard. Nick Leverett and Stinney are back. Also consider 2022 second-round pick Luke Godeke and 2021 third-round pick Robert A. Haynes. He stood in for the injured Ryan Jensen at center last season.
As far as the left tackle position is concerned, the Bucks are weighing their options.they can All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs explores a move to the left flank Fill his place with Goedeke (right tackle in college), free agent, or draft pick. The team could also keep Wirfs as-is and enter free agency or the draft for a new left tackle.
Beyond the offensive line issue, the Bucks need depth in their defensive line and defensive backfield. The team re-signed Pat O’Connor and acquired Gaines, but only 2022 football star Vita Baer and 2022 second-round pick Logan Hall join the front line. Yes, and that could mean the return of the longtime Buc Will Gholston.
Tampa Bay only has Antoine Winfield Jr. and 2022 undrafted free agent Nolan Turner confirmed for 2023. It’s a safe bet that safety is included among the Bucks’ next wave of free agency additions. Either or both Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal could be there, but Licht and Co. Other options should also be considered.
Wide receivers, pass rushing, and deep cornerbacks may also be needed, but the Bucks may be better off looking to next month’s draft. Regardless, the Bucks have more work to do in free agency and throughout the rest of the offseason to position themselves to compete in a weak NFC South in 2023. .