The NFL calendar officially flips to 2014 with the start of free agency on 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 head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht shape the roster.
For seven straight 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.
A year ago, this unit appeared to be a team strength. But after the Bucs plunged from ninth to last in the NFL in total offense, major issues up front have to be addressed by a new regime. Tampa Bay has spent considerable money and resources to build a stellar offensive line, yet this unit underachieved for most of a forgettable 2013 season and there are injury concerns regarding guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph. Head coach Lovie Smith and GM Jason Licht said the Bucs need substantially better play along the line in 2014. This veteran unit could have a markedly different look in the next few months, with the Bucs adding through free agency and the draft.
Bucs under contract for 2014
RT Demar Dotson — Steady performer who keeps getting better.
LT Donald Penn — This blind-side protector needs a bounce-back season.
LG Carl Nicks — Two injury-plagued years after signing a big free-agent contract.
RG Davin Joseph — Recovery from knee surgery sapped his strength and agility.
C Jeremy Zuttah — Versatile player best suited for center.
T Emmett Cleary — Signed reserve/futures contract in January.
T Jace Daniels — Signed reserve/futures contract in January.
G Jason Foster — Signed reserve/futures contract in January.
G Patrick Omameh — Signed off 49ers practice squad in October.
Bucs potential free agents
G/C Ted Larsen — Has been erratic in a reserve role.
T Jamon Meredith — Strictly a backup.
NFL potential free agents
T Eugene Monroe, Ravens — Solid player, but he won't come cheap.
T Jared Veldheer, Raiders — Massive blind-side protector is only 26.
T Branden Albert, Chiefs — Former first-round pick is looking for a big payday.
G Chad Rinehart, Chargers — At 28, j ust entering his prime years.
C Brian De La Puente, Saints — Excelled at giving Drew Brees space to step up in the pocket.