Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs free agency breakdown: Defensive backs

TAMPA — To say the Bucs secondary will be a focus of this offseason is to grossly understate what actually is happening.

In reality, the Bucs are pouring time and effort into fixing a unit that severely undermined their playoff hopes in 2012, contributing greatly to a five-game losing streak that derailed the season.

The biggest issue is the team's group of cornerbacks, considered a strength before the season but ultimately becoming one of the biggest weaknesses.

The trade of 2008 first-round pick Aqib Talib to the Patriots coupled with the injuries and suspension of free agent pickup Eric Wright, who is expected to be released, left the Bucs with a largely inexperienced group playing extensively. That group included Leonard Johnson, Danny Gorrer and LeQuan Lewis.

Veteran E.J. Biggers eventually returned from injury and contributed, but he's a free agent and better suited for a nickel role as a third cornerback. Myron Lewis, a third-round pick in 2010, has shown no improvement and has an uncertain future.

Things are fluid at the safety position, too. With veteran Ronde Barber, who moved to free safety last season from cornerback, not decided on his future, a replacement to pair with strong safety Mark Barron might be a consideration.

While the Bucs are expected to address the secondary in the draft, they also would be wise to use free agency to add talent. And if that's their intention, there will be real opportunities when the free agent market opens at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Top of the class

Brent Grimes, CB, Falcons

He has been a thorn in the Bucs' side for years, but he can be theirs if Tampa Bay is willing to give him a top-dollar deal. There are red flags: Grimes will be 30 by opening day, meaning he's older by cornerback standards. Also, he's coming off a season-ending Achilles tear.

Price: $$$$$

Sean Smith, CB, Dolphins

His age (25) and upside put him in the upper echelon, considering the premium at this position. Smith shows physicality, averaging 57 tackles the past three seasons. The Dolphins don't seem willing to pay the salary he will command.

Price: $$$$

Dashon Goldson, S, 49ers

The 49ers franchised Goldson last year, then he produced an All-Pro season. Now, he's on the open market and is one of the top safeties available. His toughness and range make for a good combination of skills that teams will covet.

Price: $$$$

Aqib Talib, CB, Patriots

His destination will be somewhere other than Tampa Bay. The Bucs tolerated Talib's antics for 4 ½ seasons before trading him. He is a skilled player at a crucial position, and in the right environment, there might be a team comfortable enough to give him decent money.

Price: $$$

Rest of the field

Chris Houston, CB, Lions $$$

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Eagles $$$

Ed Reed, S, Ravens $$$

Derek Cox, CB, Jaguars $$

Bucs: Best guess

The Bucs would prefer not to have two young cornerbacks this fall, meaning at least one r starter is likely to come from free agency. The Bucs should be in the mix for an elite available cornerback, such as Grimes or Smith. But don't be surprised if they settle for a lower-priced option, such as Houston or Cox, and add to that in the draft.

Key

$ = Less than $2M/year

$$ = $2M to $5M/year

$$$ = $5M to $7M/year

$$$$ = $7M to $10M/year

$$$$$ = More than $10M/year

 
Comments
Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

Oh Gahd, the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl! Don’t worry, lots of new story lines for LII vs. E-A-G-L-E-S

TAMPA – Unless you are a Chowd who drives the cah wicked fah and pahks in the yahd, you probably aren't all that jacked up about the Patriots returning to Super Bowl LII against the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis. Anybody but Bill Belichick...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

Patriots, Eagles bring plenty of local ties to Super Bowl

The Bucs aren't playing for a Super Bowl, and the game itself won't come to Tampa for three more years. But there's no shortage of cool local connections and ties on the Patriots and Eagles' rosters. You've already heard some of these stories, and yo...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

Lessons of another Belichick-Brady Super Bowl

TAMPA — Next victim, please.Shouldn't we just start penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl before every season?It would save us a lot of time.Mind you, the rest of the NFL is fighting Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and this foregone conclus...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

Crisco, dune buggy and a face-plant: Fired-up Philly fans take to the streets

PHILADELPHIA — Not even a coat of Crisco on light poles across the city could keep Philadelphia Eagles fans from scaling new heights in celebrating their team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 13 years and setting up a rematch with the AFC champion N...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

Eagles blow out Vikings to win NFC title

PHILADELPHIA — Confetti filled the air, fireworks erupted overhead, and fans sang "Fly, Eagles Fly!" No one dared head for the exits. There was too much to celebrate.The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl.The makeshift podium hadn’t taken space on Ph...
Published: 01/21/18
Updated: 01/22/18
Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Patriots rally past Jaguars to return to Super Bowl

Published: 01/21/18
Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Jones: Saluting CBS, honesty and goats (not to be confused with GOATS)

Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.Best coverageThe best football broadcast I’ve ever seen was Super Bowl XLIII. That was NBC’s coverage of the Steelers’ last-minute victory over th...
Published: 01/21/18
Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

Shrine Game journal: USF players’ thoughts are with grieving QB Quinton Flowers

ST. PETERSBURG — USF had expected to have four former players in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, but QB Quinton Flowers had to miss the showcase game after learning that his grandmother had died late last week."I most definitely ...
Published: 01/20/18
Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

Late score gives West victory over East in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — With less than a week to install a playbook, offenses can have it tough in college showcase games.And for 58 minutes on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, the teams combined for just one offensive touchdown.But...
Published: 01/20/18

Sunday’s NFL conference championship game previews

AFC: Jaguars at Patriots, 3, CBSLine/OU: Patriots by 7˝; 46The big drama leading into this game is whether, or how much, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will be slowed by his injured right hand, which kept him out of practice Thursday (see 6C for more...
Published: 01/20/18