By J.T. Olson
The Bucs Report special to News Talk Florida
The first week of free agency is over. Surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the big players so far. Despite limited cap space, they’ve signed the likes of Jamel Dean, Lavonte David and Greg Gaines
However there is still work to be done. There are still holes to fill in this roster and they can’t all be addressed through the draft. This means the Bucs will have to be active in the second wave of free agency.
These are the types of players that bring value. Most of the big names have already been signed, so now it will mostly be depth and middling players added to the roster. Here are some of the names that make the most sense for the Buccaneers.
With the departure of Josh Wells and Donovan Smith the Bucs have a hole at left tackle. It’s possible that Tristian Wirfs could fill that void by flipping over from the right side and play Luke Goedeke, who played right tackle in college, at that spot. However, bringing in a tackle with NFL experience makes a lot of sense.
Fisher was the first overall pick in 2013 out of Central Michigan University. He’s been a starter in the league for nine seasons and has two pro bowls and a Super Bowl championship to his name. He played a reserve role last season after signing with Miami Dolphins late in the season
Assuming that the Buccaneers target an offensive tackle early in the draft, Fisher would make a great mentor and depth piece. However, if the team can’t get a ready made starter in the draft then Fisher can also be a short term starter.
We all know and feel good about the Buccaneers top three wide receivers. The combination of Mike Evens, Chris Godwin and Russell Gage might be the best receiver trio in the NFL. After that there are questions with the depth at this position.
A fifth year player out of Middle Tennessee State, James can bring the depth the Buccaneers need. He is quick and shifty and can create yards after the catch. This is a different style than what the Bucs currently have on the roster.
These skills also translate to the return game. James has experience returning both kickoffs and punts. His special teams value behind the Buccaneers top three brings another layer of value to this team.
Harrison has been an on and off starter since being drafted in 2018. He most recently started five games with the Cleveland Browns and made an appearance in 16 games last year. Now he could be looking for more of an opportunity to get starting reps.
The Bucs can provide that opportunity. With Neanu Neal, Logan Ryan and Mike Edwards hitting free agency that leaves this team thin at safety. With head coach Todd Bowles being a defensive back guru he will want to add talent to the position.
Harrison is a physical strong safety who racks up tackles. His presence in the box can help sure up the run defense while not completely sacrificing coverage ability. He’s a guy who can start, but won’t prevent the Bucs from drafting a safety if they feel the need.
Wormley is a strong defensive lineman who is entering his seventh year in the NFL. He’s spent three years with Baltimore and most recently three years in Pittsburgh; two of the toughest more disciplined teams in the NFL. The Buccaneers could use more of both.
More of a run defender than pass rusher, Wormley makes for a nice rotational player. However, he did post a career high 7.0 sacks in 2021, so there is some ability to clean up as a pass rusher. He would add to a very stout defensive line with Vita Vea and newly added run stuffer Greg Gaines.
The nice thing about this signing is that it wouldn’t block last year’s top pick Logan Hall. Drafted as a guy who was smaller and very athletic, the Bucs are looking to develop him into an interior pass rusher. A big, physical run defender like Wormley would make a nice complement.
One of the Bucs veteran additions last season, Ryan made a big splash with the team. He was praised for his ability to communicate and showed a tendency to make splash plays. He is also someone who can play the nickel position, so he brings additional versatility.
Ryan has recently been very vocal about his praise for his Buccaneers teammates. Unlike some of the other veterans who came in just for Tom Brady or to chase a quick championship, Ryan seems invested in the team as it is now. His leadership, experience and versatility makes him a great player to bring back next season.