Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers can chase free agents starting Tuesday

TAMPA — Big bucks will be spent by the Bucs in free agency. That was the promise made by co-chairman Joel Glazer and echoed several times by general manager Mark Dominik since the end of the 2011 season.

The shopping spree can begin today and all that remains to be seen is whether Tampa Bay will be in the market for big-ticket players such as Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson and Saints guard Carl Nicks.

The most cynical Bucs fans have a wait-and-see attitude. Perhaps the best sign of sincerity came from new coach Greg Schiano, who said that while interviewing he never asked the Glazers if they were committed to being active in free agency.

"I didn't have to," Schiano said. "They headed that off from the very beginning. They're committed to winning. There's no doubt. I don't know the history. All I know is what they are right now."

The Bucs began the offseason $67 million under the salary cap. After salary increases to numerous players such as quarterback Josh Freeman, re-signing guard/center Jeremy Zuttah and placing the franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth, the remaining $42.7 million is still third-most in the league.

There could be moves to clear more space before the free agent signing period starts at 4 p.m. today. The Bucs plan to play Zuttah at center and there's speculation they plan to release Jeff Faine, who will count close to $8 million against the cap, as early as today when the league year begins.

Regardless, the Bucs have plenty of cash to improve a team that went 4-12 and lost 10 straight to end the season.

Where to start? The Bucs have needs at nearly every position except quarterback, punter and kicker. Tampa Bay likely will make a play for a cornerback and receiver.

Ronde Barber still is contemplating retirement despite being asked by the Bucs to return for a 16th season. Aqib Talib goes to trial in Texas March 26 on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon.

"It's a position I've talked about in the past, I know Coach Schiano shares the same belief, you need to have corners," Dominik said.

The top two free agent cornerbacks are the Chiefs' Brandon Carr and the Titans' Cortland Finnegan. Each could command upwards of $10 million per year.

Acquiring targets for Freeman also is a priority. Jackson, who averaged 18.4 yards a catch last season, would be a legitimate No. 1 wideout to go with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. Jackson figures to command between $12 million and $14 million per year. Or the Bucs could pursue Saints receiver Marques Colston, who turns 29 in June but has exceeded 1,000 yards in five of his six seasons. Other receivers such as the Colts' Pierre Garcon and the Cowboys' Laurent Robinson will garner consideration.

The Bucs could use an upgrade at tight end and are expected to have an interest in Cowboys free agent Martellus Bennett, the brother of Tampa Bay defensive end Michael Bennett.

The Bucs have talked about middle linebacker Mason Foster moving to a new position, which might open the door for free agents like the Falcons' Curtis Lofton or the Lions' Stephen Tulloch.

In some instances, players such as Chargers free agent running back Mike Tolbert have mentioned the Bucs recently as a possible spot.

"I'm going to make sure where we spend our money, we do it prudently," Schiano said. "Because as we draft these great players and they become Bucs and they learn our culture and they learn how we do things, I want to be able to keep them. I truly believe that's the way you build a great organization. Teams rise and then fall very quickly, but an organization has consistency."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers can chase free agents starting Tuesday 03/12/12 [Last modified: Monday, March 12, 2012 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  3. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]