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Bucs roundtable: Which free agent has most riding on final four games?

By Michael Sherman
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Patrick Murray (7) is congratulated by punter Bryan Anger (9) after making a field goal during the first half of an NFL game between the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times

The Bucs have four games remaining, starting with their 1 p.m. game Sunday against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium. Officially, they have 15 unrestricted free agents, with TE Cameron Brate likely to draw a high tender as a restricted free agent as well.The Times’ Bucs coverage team looks at the stakes of the final four games in this portion of our Bucs Quarterly Report. Question: Which Bucs free agent has the most riding on the final four games?


Greg Auman, @gregauman: The Bucs don’t have a ton of impact free agents potentially leaving next spring. Of the 15 unrestricted free agents, only three have started more than three games on offense or defense — CB Brent Grimes, G Kevin Pamphile and CB Robert McClain. The player who has helped himself the most? Patrick Murray, who was signed off the street and is 14 for 16 on field goals. Finish strong, and he’ll earn a decent raise to come back in 2018.


Tom Jones, @tomwjones: I’ll go with Greg Auman’s pick on this one and say Patrick Murray. As is well documented, the Bucs have had all kinds of issues at kicker over the past couple of years. But Murray has stabilized that position … for now. If he suddenly goes haywire the final month, the Bucs will be back looking for a kicker next training camp. A good final month on top of what he has already done this season and Murray will cash in nicely.


Thomas Bassinger, @tometrics: A productive final four games might help running back Charles Sims draw interest. The Bucs have used their 2014 third-round pick almost exclusively as a pass catcher this season. He has caught 28 of 38 targets for 213 yards and a touchdown. Two seasons ago, he gained more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage.


Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: The Bucs picked up DE Will Clarke in the middle of the season and after two sacks against Green Bay, he’s now among the team leaders in that category with three. If he can get one sack in each of the last four games and lead the team, he undoubtedly would strengthen his chances of being a key contributor in Tampa Bay in 2018, assuming the Bucs re-sign him.