It has been a great two weeks for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they have a better free agency than anyone expected them to have.
It all started when Tom Brady announced on a Saturday afternoon before free agency opened that he would be coming back to be the Buccaneers as their starting quarterback for the 23rd season.
Then the other pieces for the Buccaneers started falling into place.
First, it was center Ryan Jensen signing a contract. Three years $39 million and well below market average.
Then, the Bucs started putting the pieces together for another championship run.
The Bucs signed wide receiver Russell Gage from the Atlanta Falcons. Gage signs for three years and $30 million with $20 million guaranteed. The Buccaneers needed another quality receiver with Chris Godwin not able to play till sometime in October.
When Godwin gets healthy, this trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Russell gage has the potential to be the best receiving group in the league.
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman resigned with the Bucs. It is a one-year deal for just over one million per season.
With Carlton Davis and Jordan Whitehead both free agents, it was not likely that the Bucs would be able to sign both of the defensive backs.
They chose Carlton Davis giving Davis a three-year $45 million contract. Davis was the best cover guy the Bucs had in the secondary last season, and now he will be in Tampa for another three seasons.
The Bucs then came to terms with safety Logan Ryan who played with the New York Giants last season. Ryan’s deal is believed to be for the league minimum for one year.
The 31-year old Ryan will replace Jordan Whitehead, who signed a two-year deal with the New York Jets. The one factor about Ryan that appealed to the Bucs was his durability. Ryan has missed just five games in his NFL career and should step in right away as one of the leaders in the secondary.
The Bucs then agreed to terms with running back Leonard Fournette on a three-year $21 million deal.
Fournette, who had indicated he would hold out for the highest bidder, met with the New England Patriots earlier this week. Right after that meeting he decided to return to Tampa for the next three years. The deal makes Fournette the 11th highest-paid running back in the league.
Fournette is the swiss army knife of running backs, as he can with authority, is one of the best backs at catching the ball out of the backfield, and is an above-average blocker.
Fournette is coming off a career year in which he averaged a career-high 4.5 yards per carry, rushing for 812 and eight TDs in 14 games. Fournette also added 69 catches for 454 yards and two touchdowns.
Free-agent Back Ronald Jones visited with the Kansas City Chiefs. Running back, Darren Williams of the Chiefs is a free agent.
Defensive linemen William Gholston signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million per season. Entering his 10th season in Tampa, Gholston is now the second longest-tenured Buccaneer behind Lavonte David.
The 30-year old Gohlston was coming off a season where he had a career-high 4.5 sacks and played in 44 percent of the snaps.
Although not a free agent signing, the Bucs bolstered the offensive line by acquiring guard Shaq Mason from the New England Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick. Mason, one of the highest-ranking guards in the NFL last season, will be protecting Tom Brady just as he did the first five years of his NFL career.
The Buccaneers have four of their free agents still on the market. Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamokung Suh, Rob Gronkowski, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Speaking with Adam Schein on Mad Dog Sports Radio, Buccaneer GM Jason Licht said the Bucs are still in the market for a veteran backup quarterback.
Licht said that the organization is very excited about the progress of Kyle Trask; they are still looking for that veteran backup. “We had Blaine last year on our roster, and that can be a possibility still. But we’re still kind of checking out the entire market here, and we’ll see what happens here.”
Licht did not want to go on the record about the possibility of trading for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. If the Bucs were to add Mayfield, the browns would have to pick up the majority of Mayfield’s contract.
There is still work to do for the Buccaneers this off-season. I think most of the significant free-agent signings are over. The Bucs will now focus on the draft next month to add depth along both lines of scrimmage.