Five Free Agent Targets For The Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    ByJ.T. Olson. Bucs Report – Special to Sports Talk Florida

    The NFL free agency period is coming up fast Buccaneers fans. Next week teams will have the opportunity to sign free agents and reshape the face of rosters league wide. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be one of many who will be looking to maximize their bang for their buck.

    General Manager Jason Licht has made it very clear that resigning the Bucs own free agents will be the top priority. We have already seen this with the Mike Evans contract and the reports of an impending Antione Winfield Jr contract as the team’s franchised tagged player. However, that’s not to say they won’t target any new free agents.

    While a large chunk of available salary cap will go to the likes of Baker Mayfield and Lavonte David, there should still be some cash left to play with. I wouldn’t expect a massive splash signing, but the Bucs can supplement their roster with quality role players. Here are five names that I believe they will be looking at.

    5) Jordan Whitehead

    A familiar face who is undoubtedly a fan favorite. Whitehead was recently cut by the New York Jets and could look to reunite with Todd Bowles in a place where he has been very successful. And in a very deep and talented safety market, the price tag on a box safety might be lower than expected.

    Whitehead is an enforcer against the run. He is as tough and physical of a safety as you will find in the game today. His presence as a tone setter has been missed over the last few years.

    We have also seen what Whitehead can do in terms of playmaking. He can jump underneath throws and force fumbles with his bone rattling hits. He might be a niche player, but there is value in the role he can play.

    4) Gus Edwards 

    Another complimentary skill player, the Bucs are looking for boom between the tackles. This is something that starter Rachaad White did better than expected last year, but his best usage comes in space. So to preserve him the Bucs need a power back to pick up those tough gritty yards.

    The epitome of that description is the Baltimore Ravens running back, Gus Edwards. All offseason I’ve been saying that the Bucs need to find their own version of “the Gus Bus”. Well it just so happens that the genuine article happens to be a free agent. 

    The 6’1 and nearly 240 lbs Edwards scored 13 rushing touchdowns last season as a part time starter. In terms of short yardage backs, he might be the best in the game right now. White can be the versatile weapon that he has proven to be, and Edwards can be the punch in the mouth change of pace.

    3) Lloyd Cushenberry

    The Buccaneers are obviously looking for interior offensive line help. Both center and left guard were huge weaknesses for the team last year and replacing those starters is a high priority. It makes even more sense to add a veteran to this group considering the returning three starters are all on rookie contracts.

    Enter Lloyd Cushenberry. The big man from LSU has manned the middle of the Denver Broncos offense for the last four years. And while his career got off to an underwhelming start, Cushenberry has turned into a very nice player.

    Adding a veteran center would be a huge benefit to the Bucs. His experience and knowledge is incredibly valuable and it just can’t be replicated by a rookie. This wouldn’t deter the Bucs from addressing the offensive line in the draft, but it fills a big need with a quality player.

    2) Damien Lewis

    Along the same line of thinking as Cushenberry, Lewis is a good interior offensive lineman. He can step in immediately and upgrade the interior offensive line. From a talent perspective, he makes a lot of sense.

    Additionally, he should be pretty familiar with what the Bucs are trying to do. Playing the last several years with the Seattle Seahawks, he will have a very good understanding of the Bucs offense who will have a very similar set up. If he was able to thrive in Seattle, then there is no reason to think he wouldn’t do the same in Tampa Bay.

    One thing that Lewis would really add to the interior is great size. He is listed at 6’2 and 327 lbs, which is shorter and thicker than what the Bucs already have in house. So if the team wants to run more interior power concepts in 2024 then he would be a big help with that.

    1) Noah Fant

    The Bucs are looking to add depth and talent to the tight end room. General Manager Jason Licht said as much in his combine interview when he said they want to add a compliment to Cade Otton. This will hopefully mean an athletic pass catcher who can bring a big play element that Otton does not.

    Fant tested like an elite athlete coming out of Iowa in 2019. In terms of physical gifts, there are very few to every play the position who had more than him. The Bucs could use his speed (running a 4.5 in the 40 yard dash) to really threaten down the middle of the field. 

    What’s even better, Fant will have some familiarity with the Buccaneers offense. He spent the last two years with the Seattle Seahawks, who ran the same system as the Bucs last year under Dave Canales and will maintain a similar system under the new offensive staff. And while the production didn’t live up to the traits in Seattle (just 900 yards and 4 touchdowns in two seasons), the juice is definitely worth the squeeze for a complimentary tight end.

    For more from J.T. click here, then make sure to follow him on Twitter.

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