Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Arians, Licht Non-Committal on Free Agentsby Ken Filler March 4, 2019 3 comments
With the combine behind us, the attention now turns to the free agency period, which opens up on March 11th. That is the date that teams can talk to free agents and talk contract terms with the players they would like to add to the roster.
By March 13th at 4:00 p.m., all teams must be under the salary cap and let their impending free agents know if they are going to be offering them a contract for the upcoming season.
Here are a bunch of tidbits regarding the Buccaneers.
Don’t blink or else you’ll miss ’em.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a few important decisions to make regarding their restricted and unrestricted free agents. One of the biggest decisions will involve offensive tackle Donovan Smith. Although rated by Pro Football Focus as one of the worst tackles in football, if Smith hits the open market he will be the most in-demand offensive linemen in free agency.
Smith is durable, and that will be his selling point. You can count on him to show up on gameday and be ready to go.
The Bucs might even slap the franchise tag on Smith if they cannot come to terms with him on a new contract. He would be paid close to $14 million on a one-year deal for the 2019 season.
Both Bruce Arians and Jason Licht were non-committal about the signings of any of their potential free agents. They both said that they would like to sign all of them and have them all back, but the salary cap will dictate who they will bring back and at what salary. The salary cap has been set at $188.2 million.
Linebacker Kwon Alexander is a free agent that is very important for the Bucs to re-sign. With the news that linebacker Kendall Beckwith may not play football again due to the serious nature of the ankle injury that he suffered last offseason, it is imperative that the Bucs re-sign Alexander.
You cannot go into the 2019 season with Lavonte David as the only starting linebacker coming back. Everyone saw first hand how poorly the linebackers played without Alexander last season. It was really hard to watch when David missed some time with his injury.
Meanwhile, Licht did not sound optimistic that receiver Adam Humphries will return in 2019. Humphries, an undrafted free agent out of Clemson, has worked his way into a potential contract averaging $8 million per season.
The Bucs could lose DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, and all of a sudden a position of strength becomes a position of need.
Licht mentioned that there will be some players changing positions for the upcoming season. Caleb Benenoch underperformed at guard last season and will be switching back to tackle, which is his best position.
Noah Spence, who had 5.5 sacks his rookie season but just one in the last two injury-riddled years, will be used in more of an outside linebacker edge rusher role in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’s 3-4 defense. Licht feels that this is a defensive scheme were Spence could really excel, providing he stays healthy.
Arians said that Vernon Hargreaves will be used more in a slot corner role and have him cover more man-to-man.
M.J. Stewart will move from a slot corner to safety.
Finally, both Licht and Arians are really high on the running back combo of Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones. Licht mentioned that he expects Jones to have a big year. It’s going to take a lot of coaching to get Jones game to where it needs to be at the NFL level.
How’s that for Bucs news?