Tampa Bay fans have a lot to be excited about in 2016. The Buccaneers have approached free agency and the pre-draft process well this offseason, staying out of any huge bidding wars adding a few low cost pieces to add depth in the weaker positions.
The free agency approach for the franchise thus far seems smarter than in previous years, where big additions such as Darrelle Revis, Eric Wright and many more didn’t work out. The Buccaneers landed Revis from the Jets in a trade during the 2013 offseason. The Bucs gave up the hefty price of a first-round pick, not to mention the $96 million over six years that was agreed in the deal. Revis was a flop for the Bucs after a shaky return from an ACL tear and left shortly after, signing over to the New England Patriots the very next offseason. This is just one example of a situation where chasing big names in the open market didn’t work out for the Buccaneers, as is so often the case in the NFL.
The Bucs have instead approached this free agency with a more cautious approach, choosing to sit out of any major bidding wars and instead make a few small additions to add to the depth chart. Defensive end Robert Ayers, guard J.R. Sweezy, linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Josh Robinson complete the list of incoming players for Dirk Koetter’s squad so far. Sweezy sures up the offensive line and helps to fill the void left by the retiring Logan Mankins, whilst Grimes and Robinson add depth in the defensive backfield. The signings of Ayers and Smith help the Bucs add some pass rush, all this only cost a small amount for the Bucs giving very low guaranteed money to their free agent acquisitions and ensuring they don’t spend big on free agents such as Oliver Vernon and Malik Jackson.
In addition, re-ups running back Doug Martin and safeties Chris Conte and Keith Tandy will provide a sense of continuity and help ensure the team continues to improve in the same fashion they did in 2015. Keeping the backfield bell cow Martin in the fold is probably the most important move any team has made this offseason. The Bucs finally have a franchise quarterback to work with in Jameis Winston, who certainly benefited from having the league’s second-leading rusher in behind him last year. Winston’s development and progression is the most important thing for the Buccaneers now and having a running back he has worked with can take any additional pressure off the young gun.
This will benefit the Buccaneers when it comes to April 28th in Chicago as they can avoid reaching to fill a need. While Tampa should still look to add both a corner and pass rusher, they can now have the luxury of waiting and taking the best available player should neither of these be available. Koetter and general manager Jason Licht can look to build through the draft and add talent rather than worrying about filling gaps on the starting lineup, which will inevitably help them become a better team in 2016. Tampa fans should look forward to the draft and the 2016 season with optimism as i think they can inspect the improvement to continue with a 8-10 win season potentially on the cards.