The NFL free agency period begins at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. That means the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and 31 other teams have only a few precious days left to decide which of their own free agents to bring back and who to pursue — and how much money to spend — when players hit the open market.
The Bucs are about $33 million under the 2013 salary cap of $123 million.
Fifth-year general manager Mark Dominik is in charge of shaping the roster, and there are plenty of needs and variables to consider.
For eight straight days, the Tribune and TBO.com will feature one position each day. We’ll provide an analysis of the position and list the players to consider: Bucs under contract for 2013, plus Bucs and notable NFL players scheduled to become free agents.
So, Bucs fans, what would you do? Now is your chance. You be the GM.
For the first time in three seasons, the Buccaneers’ leading pass catcher last year was not a tight end named Kellen Winslow.
Winslow’s departure and the arrival of wideout Vincent Jackson were the biggest reasons for that, but coordinator Mike Sullivan’s reduced emphasis on the tight end also played a part. Tampa Bay’s emphasis on the run means tight ends are used more as blockers than pass-catchers, but every team needs a receiving threat there.
The likely departure of Dallas Clark as a free agent could make this a top priority. Luke Stocker is a solid blocker and adequate pass-catcher who is improving, but he appears to lack the ability to be a dynamic playmaker.
The draft could offer several options, including Zach Ertz of Stanford, Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame and Jordan Reed of Florida.
Tampa Bay wants to add either a dynamic slot receiver or a tight end during the free-agent signing period. There’s a chance they could land both, but one or the other is a must.
Monday: Defensive line
Wednesday: Defensive back
Saturday: Offensive line
Sunday: Running back