Analysis

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agency Outlook

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agency Preview

After deviating from their typical contract philosophy to maximize their championship window, Tampa Bay fell short in the Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Rams. Brady and the Bucs nearly pulled off an incredible comeback, but Cooper Kupp’s 44 yard reception set up Matt Gay to kick the game-winning field goal. As they look to defend their first NFC South title since 2007, the Bucs have significant decisions to make.

Update: The Buccaneers are now $10,848,779 over the cap.

Tampa Bay’s Pending Free Agents:

  • EDGE Jason Pierre-Paul
  • C Ryan Jensen
  • IDL Ndamukong Suh
  • TE Rob Gronkowski
  • IDL William Gholston
  • RB Leonard Fournette
  • TE O.J. Howard
  • QB Blaine Gabbert
  • RB Ronald Jones II
  • CB Richard Sherman
  • LG Aaron Stinnie
  • RB Giovani Bernard
  • IDL Steve McLendon
  • LB Kevin Minter
  • LT Josh Wells
  • CB Carlton Davis
  • RB Le’Veon Bell (SFA)
  • CB Pierre Desir
  • WR Breshad Perriman
  • S Curtis Riley
  • S Andrew Adams
  • IDL Pat O’Connor (RFA)
  • LS Zach Triner (RFA)
  • RG Alex Cappa
  • S Jordan Whitehead
  • C Donell Stanley (SFA)

In terms of Effective Cap Space — the maximum amount of space a team will have when they sign at least 51 players — the Bucs are projected to be $1.32M over the $208.2M unadjusted cap. Though they can create up to $84.2M in cap space through max restructures, such moves were never part of their strategy until last season. Yet, Tampa’s free agents include ten players who started at least ten games last season with Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen, Jordan Whitehead, and Leonard Fournette headlining the group. The D-Line and TE rooms could also have key players set to be free agents. JPP, Suh, Gholston, and McLendon comprise the D-Linemen who will be UFA’s. As for TE, Gronk’s re-retirement looks likely, and 2017 first round pick O.J. Howard played 2021 under the Fifth-Year option. Overall, nine UFAs — Cappa, Jensen, Godwin, Whitehead, Suh, Davis, Gronk, Fournette, and JPP — played at least 50% of TB’s snaps in 2021. In addition to their UFAs, Pro Bowl LG Ali Marpet’s sudden retirement on Sunday puts the Bucs in jeopardy of losing all three starters on their IOL. 

Franchise Tag:

  • WR Chris Godwin (Projected Franchise Tag Price: $19.18M)
  • CB Carlton Davis (Projected Franchise Tag Price: $17.295M)

The Bucs will likely either tag WR Chris Godwin for the second consecutive season or use the tag on CB Carlton Davis. For Godwin, he would be due 120% of his previous year’s salary, which would be $19.18M as he made $15.983M in 2021. If the Bucs tag Davis, the projected CB franchise number is $17.295M. Either way, it would be very surprising if the Bucs don’t tag one of their UFAs.  

Update: The Buccaneers elected to use their franchise tag on WR Chris Godwin for the second consecutive year. 

Top Team Needs:

  • IOL
  • WR 2/3
  • RB
  • D-Line
  • CB
  • S

Note that these are not necessarily in order or extensive because Tampa’s needs heavily depend on whom they decide to re-sign from their UFAs. As it stands right now, they could lose starters at: WR, RB, C, G, ED, DI, CB, S. Cam Brate and Codey McElroy are the only rostered TEs, and the RBs are Vaughn and Barner. And because of Marpet retiring, Tampa’s IOL has become an ever greater need than it already was.