It would be an understatement to say the Bucs had their backs against the wall heading into free agency. Not only did they not have a quarterback on the roster after the Tom Brady retirement, but they had no money to spend on marquee-free agents.
The Bucs were $55 million over the cap and were looking to cut payroll to reach the cap limit, not go on a spending spree. The Buccaneers had get down to the new cap limit of 224.8 million dollars.
After the dust has settled, the free agency period has gone better than anyone could have hoped for the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers have been able to resign the players that have had the most impact on the Buccaneers over the last few seasons. But, unfortunately, they also lost some key members of the defense, which was expected.
So far, the Buccaneers have lost seven players from last year’s teams.
Buccaneers Cut Three Veterans
Tackle Donovan Smith, running back Leonard Fournette, and tight end Cam Brate were given their release by the Buccaneers.
Smith had more penalties than any other offensive lineman last season and had the worst season of his NFL career.
Leonard Fournette, after the Super Bowl season, just seemed to regress every season. Fournette’s best game in pewter and white was Super Bowl 55. Fournette ran for 89 yards and one touchdown while adding four catches for 46 yards.
The Bucs sent Guard Shaq Mason and a seventh-round pick to Houston in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Mason started all 18 games for the Buccaneers in 2022.
Bucs Defense Loses Three Key Members
Defensive Linemen Rakeem Nunez-Roches signed a three-year deal with the New York Giants. He joined the Buccaneers in 2018 and started 22/68 games in his four and half-years in Tampa.
Cornerback Sean-Murphy Bunting signed a one-year deal with the Tennessee Titans. Murphy bunting started 12 games last season, registering 31 tackles and two interceptions.
The Bucs also lost safety Mike Edwards, to the Kansas City Chiefs. Edwards signed a one-year deal with Kansas City after starting 12 games with the Buccaneers last season.
So in just a few days, the Bucs lost two key members of their secondary
Buccaneers Resign Lavonte David And Jamel Dean
The Buccaneers were able to bring back the heart and soul of the Buccaneer’s defense linebacker Lavonte David on a one-year deal. David, who has played his entire 12-year career in Tampa, returns on a 7 million dollar one-year deal.
David, one of the defensive team leaders, is excellent against the run and will return to anchor the middle of the Buccaneer’s defense for at least one more season in 2023.
The Bucs also brought back cornerback Jamel Dean on a four-year deal. Dean, who was listed as the top cornerback in free agency signs for 52 million over four years.
Dean is coming off his best season so far in his young career. Dean started 15 games last season and had 54 tackles, two interceptions, and eight passes defended.
In his four seasons in the league, Dean has allowed the fewest number of yards per target at 5.7 among all defensive backs, according to buccaneers.com
Dean joins fellow cornerback Carlton Davis in the defensive backfield, hoping to improve upon last year’s defensive performance.
Buccaneers Sign Baker Mayfield, Chase Edmonds, And Greg Gaines
The Bucs went outside the organization to sign Baker Mayfield, who wants to get his career back on track. Mayfield signed for 4.5 million guaranteed and 4.5 million in incentives. Mayfield will compete with Kyle Trask for the starting quarterback job this summer.
After giving Leonard Fournette his walking papers, the Bucs went out and signed running back Chase Edmonds. Edmonds spent time in Miami and Denver last season, running for 245 yards and averaging just under four yards a carry.
Edmonds also caught 24 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown.
He joins Rachaad White, Patrick Laird, and Ke’Shawn Vaughan in the backfield.
With only two defensive linemen under contract, the Bucs added some depth by signing defensive linemen Greg Gaines to a one-year contract.
Gaines played with the Los Angeles Rams in 2022 and will bring a bit of youth to the Buccaneer defensive line.
Over the past four years, Gaines made 25 starts recording 10.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss.
Gaines will join former Washington teammates Vita Vea and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka on the Buccaneer’s defense.
The Bucs also resigned linebacker Cam Gill, and defensive linemen Patrick O’Conner to One-tear deals.
There will be more free agency news in the coming months, but right now, the focus will be on the NFL draft, where the Bucs will need to find some players who can start immediately.
Great piece Ken! GO summary of free agency for the bucs
Thanks Gage. Appreciate that.