Bucs' Biggest Needs After 1st Wave of Free Agency

J. Kanno

No team made a bigger splash in free agency this year than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, landing legendary quarterback Tom Brady and retaining one of 2019's best pass-rushers in Shaq Barrett. 

The front seven was further kept in place by retaining veterans Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul, as well.

Now, with the big pieces locked up, Tampa Bay can reevaluate their remaining roster holes and potentials avenues to address them.

Unlike years past, the Bucs' attention heading into free agency was turned mostly inward, aside from the addition of Brady. Most of the free agents re-signed were defensive players, shoring up their starting lineup from last season.

With nearly every starter back on the roster, the Bucs defense will look to bolster their pass-rush rotation depth.

The Bucs had one of the most explosive offenses last season, and the biggest difference this season will be swapping Jameis Winston with Tom Brady. However, there are still some questions on the offensive line and at wide receiver.

Here are the Bucs' biggest needs after the initial wave of free agency:

Right Tackle

If there is one starting position still up for grabs on the Bucs' roster, it has to be the right tackle spot.

Last year's starter Demar Dotson is a free agent and has yet to sign with anyone. At 34-years-old, the long time Buccaneer is past the prime of his career and was due to be replaced sooner than later.

The Bucs signed Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Joe Haeg to a one-year deal at the start of free agency. While he has some starting experience, Haeg's chief value is his versatility rather than his potential to hold down the right tackle position full-time.

More likely, the Bucs will look to snag a long-term starter at right tackle in the draft. Top players like Tristan Wirfs and Andrew Thomas should be prime targets for the Tampa in the first round. They could also opt to find a new starter on second day of the draft, like they did with starters Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa.

Outside Linebacker

A clear priority for the Bucs at the start of free agency was retaining linebackers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, their top pass-rushers from 2019 and the only two Bucs with double-digit sacks in the past decade. 

However, a formidable pass-rush requires more than two quality starters. Most championship defenses deploy a platoon of rushers to get after the quarterback. Tampa Bay should be no different.

This is one area where Tom Brady of all people can be of service. Veterans nearing the end of their careers without a Super Bowl ring might gravitate towards the Bucs thanks to their new future Hall-of-Famer under center. 

Free agents like Cameron Wake and Markus Golden might take a pay cut just for a shot to play with a contender certified by a six-time Super Bowl champion. Naturally, the draft 

Wide Receiver

Wait, don't the Bucs have the NFL's best receiver duo in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Well, yes they do, but after them there are a whole lot of question marks.

Tampa Bay had a viable third receiver in Breshad Perriman, but he took a sizable payday to play with the New York Jets. Remaining is a gaggle of untested talent, including speedster Scotty Miller, Justin Watson and Bryant Mitchell.

Given the short window that Tampa Bay has with Tom Brady, maximizing their receiving talent is a must. Pickings are slim in free agency, and general manager Jason Licht pretty much ruled out signing another receiver (via the Tampa Bay Times' Rick Stroud):

That leaves the draft, which is absolutely stocked at receiver. The Bucs could really go all in on weaponizing the offense and use their first-round pick on a wide receiver like Henry Ruggs III. 

They could also very easily wait to pick any number of quality deep threats likely to be available later in the draft, such as John Hightower or Devin Duvernay.

Comments (1)
No. 1-1

I think that they have to take some chances on some young guys to help bolster that defensive line and wide receiver core. When looking at a team like the 49ers their front 7 was absolutely dominant and their back ups were too. That is what this Bucs team is going to have to try and build if they want a shot at the Super Bowl.