We won't know who the Bucs are targeting in free agency until offers and agreements unfold in the next few days after free agency begins today, but here are five players who have histories with Tampa Bay coaches or front-office members who could be up for a reunion at a reasonable cost.
Travis Benjamin, WR, Browns: He'd cost more than Roddy White, who played under Bucs coach Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Smith in Atlanta. But White is 34, and his statistics dropped off last year. Benjamin is 26 and broke out with 68 catches and five touchdowns last year. He also would help on special teams; he has three career punt-return touchdowns. New player personnel director John Spytek was in Cleveland when he was drafted in 2012.
Brandon Thompson, DT, Bengals: The Bucs hired defensive line coach Jay Hayes from the Bengals, and Thompson is one of his up-and-comers. Thompson, 26, hasn't started a game since 2013 but would be an inexpensive depth signing. The Bucs have Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel likely leaving as free agents, and Thompson could easily displace one of those as a backup with upside.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Bears: It's a long shot, but with Bobby Rainey a free agent, the Bucs might want to upgrade their running back depth. Rodgers, 26, played under Koetter and Smith in Atlanta, and twice he has caught 50 passes in a year as a change-of-pace back. That would be like Charles Sims' role, but Rodgers also would be a candidate for kickoff returns. He could help the Bucs' depth on the cheap, whether Doug Martin is back or not.
Pat Sims, DT, Bengals: There's talk of Tampa Bay's "multiple" defense dabbling with 3-4 looks this year, and to do that it would need bigger nose tackles to clog the middle against the run. Sims played under Hayes with the Bengals in 2008-12 and again in 2015. At 30, he wouldn't be expensive, and his 340-pound frame would work well in an occasional 3-4 package. Paul Soliai, 32 and 345 pounds, started 14 games for Smith in Atlanta in 2014 and would fit that role as well.
Steven Johnson, LB, Titans: Want a special-teams signing? Johnson had five special-teams tackles and two fumble recoveries last year, playing under now-Bucs special-teams coordinator Nate Kaczor. Johnson, 27, started seven games for the Broncos in 2014, so he can help linebacker depth, too.