The NFL calendar officially flipped to 2014 with the start of free agency Tuesday. A three-day negotiating period begins Saturday, allowing teams and prospective free agents to begin the matchmaking process.
With $20 million available under the $133 million salary cap, the Buccaneers are expected to address a number of needs as the first-year tandem of coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht shape the roster. For seven consecutive days, The Tampa Tribune and TBO.com will feature one position each day. We'll provide analysis of the position and list the players to consider.
So, here's your chance, Bucs fans — you be the GM. Go to TBO.com/Bucs and tell us what you would do.
All-Pro outside linebacker Lavonte David heads this group, and Mason Foster is improving steadily in the middle, but there are several Bucs linebackers approaching free agency who have been valuable contributors, including Dekoda Watson, Adam Hayward and Jonathan Casillas. Hayward, who joined the club in 2007, is a respected voice in the locker room. Watson, a former Florida State standout, has a knack for blocking kicks and is an effective blitzer. Strongside linebacker is not typically a high-profile position in the Tampa 2 scheme coach Lovie Smith is expected to implement this fall. But unless the Bucs retain some of their potential free agents, depth at linebacker looms as a major issue.
Bucs under contract for 2014
Lavonte David — Third-year player excels at spot Derrick Brooks defined in a Hall of Fame career.
Mason Foster — Growing more comfortable with his myriad responsibilities in the Cover 2.
Ka'Lial Glaud — Credited with two tackles in seven games for Bucs in 2013.
Danny Lansanah — Played one game with Tampa Bay after being signed off Jets practice squad.
Damaso Munoz — Former CFL standout was signed by the Bucs last month.
Bucs potential free agents
Adam Hayward — Special teams captain is a true professional.
Dekoda Watson — Turns in a few splash plays every season.
Jonathan Casillas — Played well after signing as a free agent from New Orleans.
Jacob Cutrera — Versatile backup spent the entire season on injured reserve.
NFL potential free agents
James Anderson, Bears — Led Chicago in stops last year while playing all 16 games.
Akeem Jordan, Chiefs — Reliable on special teams and stout against the run.
Arthur Moats, Bills — Can help on special teams and fill in behind Foster.
Perry Riley, Redskins — If the Bucs want to get Foster's full attention, Riley is intriguing.
Kavell Conner, Colts — Boasts the quickness to excel in Tampa Bay's scheme.
Thursday: Running back
Friday: Offensive line
Saturday: Defensive line
Sunday: Wide receiver/TE
Monday: Defensive back