Todd Bowles and the Bucks started the 2023 offseason with 22 unrestricted free agents and not much space in the salary cap. With most of the free agent coming on the defensive side of the ball, which was the strength of the team last year, it seemed unlikely that Tampa Bay would put together that unit.
But a solid market never materialized for either cornerback Jamel Dean or linebacker Labonte David. Dean returned on a four-year deal worth $52 million (averaging $13 million a year). David, 33, signed a one-year, $7 million deal Stay in Tampa Bay.
The Bucks also signed defensive tackle Greg Gaines to offset the loss of reserve Rakeem Nunez Roches. The team also re-signed reserve defensive lineman and special his team Pat O’Connor, backup outside linebacker Camgil, and backup cornerback Die Delaney. However, Tampa Bay also lost two part-time starters in the secondary, in safety Mike Edwards (Chiefs) and cornerback Sean Murphy Bunting (Titans).
At the NFL’s annual meeting, Bowles showed the team wasn’t panicking about the many holes in the defense that still need to be filled. This could mean getting a new player or two of him, but it also means re-signing some of Bucs’ own free-his agents, especially on defense.
“We’re trying to find good football players,” Bowles said. “Obviously you want Shaq [Barrett] Get back healthier. With Bunting and Edwards gone, the secondary has obviously lost some depth in that position. Even though we lost Nacho, gaining Gaines was a big plus for us. Let’s see what happens.”
Todd Bowles, Bucks Want Akeem Hicks, Will Golston Return
Bowles added that free agency is still on the way, and named several veteran defenders on the team Tampa Bay is interested in re-signing.
“We still have [Akiem] Hopefully Hicks is there,” Bowles said. “We are trying to get as many good footballers as possible and if there is a need we will try to fill them in the future. [in the draft]”
Hicks signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Bucks last season to replace Damkon Su. However, the 33-year-old defensively tackled his tackles with an injury that saw him miss six games, and in Week 18 he recorded 22 tackles and he only recorded one sack.
“He’s someone on our radar,” Bowles said. “We’re still in touch and we’ll see how they go. When he was healthy I thought he was very good. I thought his performance was good. he and vita [Vea] There is a very good power there and we will continue to see it. “
Hicks’ return could require a significant pay cut as the Bucks’ salary cap room is so tight. Another veteran defensive lineman Bowles is interested in re-signing is Will Golston, who he has played for Tampa Bay for 10 years.
Golston’s sacks have dropped from 4.5 in 2021 to zero last year. To stay with the Bucks, his salary would also have to be cut. Golston signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in 2022.
“Yes, Will is an option,” Bowles said. “We’re in the middle of the process. We have a man. Obviously we had to cut some money and we had to do some tricks. Jason [Licht] So far you’ve done a good job. We’ll continue to look into it, but it’s still early in the process. We still have a lot to do. “
Todd Bowles also interested in re-signing Logan Ryan
Bowles was asked if the team’s plans also include re-signing veteran safety Logan Ryan this offseason.
“He’s an option, too,” Bowles said.
Ryan, 32, signed a one-year contract worth $1.12 million last offseason. Injuries limited Ryan to just nine games and six starts, but when he was healthy, he was a major contributor. , recorded one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The Bucks currently have only four experienced defensive linemen on their roster of Bear, Gaines, O’Connor and Logan Hall. Tampa Bay’s safety is even worse, with Antoine Winfield Jr. and Nolan Turner, who spent much of their rookie season on the practice team, being the only two on the roster.
Bowles reiterated that the Bucks’ free agency isn’t over yet. Anyone who wants to join or rejoin the Bucks only has to do so for reasonable contracts, which may be why some of the team’s own veterans have yet to re-sign. yeah.
“We still have a lot of people out there who are in the process that we haven’t completely let go of,” Bowles said. “We’re still working it out.”