1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Ranking the Bucs free agents

A franchise tag could await Donovan Smith, but what about Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries?
MONICA HERNDON | Times Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on December 2, 2018. The Bucs won 24 to 17.
Published Feb. 24

TAMPA — Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made some splashy free agency signings since the team hired him in 2014.

Some have been cannon balls (cornerback Brent Grimes, center Ryan Jensen) and others have just been belly flops (defensive tackle Chris Baker, safety T.J. Ward, tackle Anthony Collins, kicker Nick Folk).

The Bucs will wade much more carefully into those waters this season as the focus becomes attempting to retain some of their own unrestricted free agents, most notably left tackle Donovan Smith, receiver Adam Humphries and linebacker Kwon Alexander.

RELATED STORY: As scouting combine approaches, Bucs ponder No. 5 pick

The Bucs are currently about $17-million under the salary cap, which will increase another six percent from $177.2-million to about $191-million in 2019. They also could clear more space with the trade or release of some players such as receiver DeSean Jackson ($10-million in 2019).

Here’s a breakdown of the team’s notable free agents.


Donovan Smith: If he were to make it to free agency, Smith would be the top left tackle on the market and could earn anywhere from $12-million to 14-million per season. While Smith isn’t perfect, he’s been incredibly durable and hasn’t missed a game in four seasons, starting 64 in a row.

He’s a big personality in the locker room and a hard worker. At 25, he has room to get better and the Bucs are anxious to see the improvement he makes under offensive line coach Joe Gilbert and run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.

The Bucs will have more talks about a contract extension for Smith at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. But failing an agreement, they will use the franchise tag on Smith, guaranteeing him $14-million on a one-year contract. That represents the average salary of the top five left tackles in the NFL.

RELATED STORY: Expect Bucs to use franchise tag on Donovan Smith if a long-term deal can’t be reached

Adam Humphries: The word is that Humphries was seeking $8-million a year last off-season. That was before he produced career highs with 71 receptions and five touchdowns in 2018. Humphries was discovered in a rookie tryout camp, so the Bucs have great respect for his development.

Like many things, it will come down to value. The Patriots’ Julian Edelman signed a two-year deal worth $11-million last season. Edelman also can play outside and was the Super Bowl MVP. Humphries is almost exclusively a slot receiver. Production aside, the Bucs are committed to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as their starters and still haven’t resolved what to do with DeSean Jackson, who is owed $10-million if he plays for the Bucs.

Kwon Alexander: Talk about horrible timing. The middle linebacker may have been looking at a long-term deal worth $10-million per year had he not tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against the Browns last Oct. He said he expects to begin running next week but is probably at least four months from being cleared for any football activities.

Alexander brought emotion to the Bucs defense. But this will be a tricky deal to negotiate given his health concerns. Considering their cap situation, each signing will have a domino effect. There also are some other free agent linebackers available such as the Vikings’ Anthony Barr and the Eagles Jordan Hicks.

RELATED STORY: Injured LB Kwon Alexander loves ‘everything’ about remaining with the Bucs

Other Unrestricted Free Agents

Ryan Fitzpatrick: Went 2-5 as a starter last season but passed for more than 400 yards and at least three TDs in each of his first three games. Bucs like Fitzpatrick but don’t want Jameis Winston looking over his shoulder. That’s why Bruce Arians made it clear this is Wiinston’s team. This no longer feels like a great fit.

RELATED STORY: Disappearing act? Why Fitzmagic is no longer needed in Tampa Bay.

Ryan Griffin: All together now: Griffin has never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game. But the new Bucs coaching staff evaluated his tape of preseason games and practices and like the quarterback, who will start his sixth season in 2019. Griffin makes more sense as the No. 2 behind Winston at this juncture than Fitzpatrick does, even if it’s a leap of faith.

Jacquizz Rodgers: Third down back whose role will be replaced by former Cardinals Andre Ellington. Team expects Ronald Jones to have an expanded role in his second season.

Adarius Taylor: Versatile backup at all three linebacker spots but not likely to be a re-sign priority for the Bucs.

Garrison Sanborn: — Reliable long-snapper form Tampa Jesuit who has played 10 seasons in the NFL, most of them with Buffalo.

Cairo Santos: The kicker took over after the release of Chandler Catanzaro and made 9 of 12 field goal attempts and was perfect on 12 extra points the final seven games. A consideration, but Bucs may look for a stronger kickoff leg.

Restricted Free Agents

Peyton Barber: The running back, entering his fourth year, led the Bucs in rushing with 871 yards and five touchdowns. Signing him to an offer sheet will be a priority.

Andrew Adams: Fourth-year safety tied for the team lead with four interceptions, including three in a win over the Panthers. Bucs could make a qualifying offer to retain his rights.

Why Gerald McCoy will return for a 10th season with the Bucs

Don't even think about it. Bucs should not pursue Le'Veon Bell

Kyler Murray, Jon Gruden and the Raiders will dominate NFL combine/draft talk


  1. Frank Reich's Colts go for it on fourth down roughly 20 percent of the time. DARRON CUMMINGS  |  Associated Press
    Coaches, gradually, are changing the way they think about fourth down. Frank Reich is leading the way, while Bruce Arians is lagging behind.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stops to autograph a football for seven-year-old Jhamius Metelus, of Deerfield Beach, before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Your guide to the Tampa Bay-Indianapolis game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) listens as offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich gives him instructions during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP
    Rick Stroud | Bruce Arians says he wants to wait another month before making a recommendation to ownership. Here’s some reasons why.
  4. Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) lines up for a kick against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. The Titans won the game 31-17. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini) JEFF HAYNES  |  AP
    The kicker and Pro Bowl receiver are injured. Expected back is former USF standout running back Marlon Mack.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back T.J. Logan (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP
    Receiver Justin Watson will assume punt return duties starting Sunday
  6. Cameron Brate's collection of jerseys features teammates current and former and those of other players who probably have more in common with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end who went undrafted out of Harvard. [Photo provided by Cameron Brate]
    Tampa Bay tight end Cam Brate’s swap shop of jerseys is more than a numbers game.
  7. Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in 2012 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach in 2019. LEFT: DARRON CUMMINGS | AP  RIGHT: JOHN AMIS I AP  |  AP
    The Bucs head coach received his first chance to lead an NFL sideline at Indianapolis: “There will always be a little blue horseshoe in my heart.”
  8. Bears receiver Anthony Miller dives in for a touchdown past the Cowboys' Chidobe Awuzie, right, during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. CHARLES REX ARBOGAST  |  AP
    Mitchell Trubisky passes for three touchdowns as Dallas loses for the seventh time in 10 games to drop to 6-7.
  9. Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Aaron Murray tosses the ball during practice Thursday in Plant City. "It's grind time," he said. XFL
    The Vipers begin their offseason program in Plant City.
  10. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs face the Indianapolis Colts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here are our picks for this week’s NFL games.