After a fatal NFC Divisional Round clash, Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seek retaliation. Topping the season off at 13-4, the Buccaneers had high expectations approaching the postseason. However, with Chris Godwin out on injury and the controversy with Antonio Brown, the Buccaneers couldn’t hold up past the second round. As franchise quarterback Tom Brady hangs up the towel, the Buccaneers must shop for a new team general. As of late, the Buccaneers have all the pieces for a championship-caliber squad with the addition of a reasonable quarterback. Although, as we make headway towards free agency, the quarterback class isn’t looking too snazzy. With Cam Newton and Teddy Bridgewater leading the pack, Tampa Bay should consider trading up for a higher caliber quarterback.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Offseason Previews.
Pending Free Agents
Taking a peek at the Buccaneers 2022 free agency list seems overwhelming. Several superstars will be hitting free agency, while the Buccaneers sit at just $2.4 million in cap space per Over the Cap. From elite wideout Godwin to veteran center Ryan Jensen, the Buccaneers have much to map out. Nevertheless, Tampa Bay fans will see cuts and restructured contracts to free up some cap room.
Coming off a high-end season, Godwin is sitting on free agency. Re-signing Godwin should be the main priority for Tampa Bay in order to maintain a contending position. With Rob Gronkowski unassertive about his NFL future, passing up on Godwin would put the Buccaneers in trouble. However, as previously stated, the Buccaneers don’t have much cap space and in order to keep Godwin, Tampa Bay needs to move things around.
After recent shoulder surgery, Pierre-Paul is seeking free agency. While delt on an injury for a chunk of the 2021 season, Pierre-Paul is still a danger factor. The 33-year-old will most likely swap jerseys but the Buccaneers should still make a run for his money. However, the veteran will anticipate a high salary and with the Buccaneers’ current situation, things might not pan out.
One of the finest at his position, Jensen is a huge asset to the Buccaneers. Appearing in all 17 games, Jensen drained every moment protecting his leader. While Jensen is a top free agent for Tampa Bay, several teams seek interest in the veteran which could lead to a team swap. However, the Buccaneers should consider bringing back the veteran as the center position is grueling to fill.
Potential Cap Casualties
With limited cap space to work with; freeing up some money could create some breathing room. As we begin the 2022 Offseason, the Buccaneers hold at $2.4 million in cap space. While not over the cap; Tampa Bay won’t have a chance to re-sign any of their stars if they don’t switch things up. Sadly, this process concludes in cuts that players fear the most.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches (2.7 Million Saved)
While limited playing time, even when on the turf, Nunez-Rochez wasn’t much of a factor. Making one start in 16 appearances, Nunez-Roches recorded just 17 tackles with one forced fumble. Cutting the defensive tackle is definitely the best move for Tampa Bay as every dime is needed for the offseason. With the Buccaneers in search of a new quarterback, creating more cap space can lead to a higher-end player.
Cameron Brate (5.3 Million Saved)
With Gronk questioning his NFL future, Brate would become the starting tight end. However, Brate isn’t the greatest tight end out there and the Buccaneers should consider shopping for a higher quality resource. The best option would be to cut the veteran as he clears up $5.3 million. There are a handful of elite tight ends entering free agency which the Buccaneers should keep an eye out for.
Jamel Dean (2.5 Million Saved)
While a great contributor to the secondary, Dean can become a cap casualty. Saving $2.5 million, the Buccaneers might decide to cut 25-year-old. While his 2021 stat line is pretty respectable, Dean could see a team swap if the Buccaneers cut him. As of late, Tampa Bay has a stacked secondary, and cutting Dean won’t do much harm. The Buccaneers have plenty of time to decide the whereabouts of Dean and some cap space seems to be the best proposal.
Open Market Free Agent Targets
With a lot to break down, the Buccaneers will have much to accomplish over the offseason. In terms of free agency, the Buccaneers have several stars to invest in. Whether Bridgewater or Cam Robinson, several stars headline the 2022 free agency. The Buccaneers should focus on their quarterback issue but other positions need some fixing up as well. However, limited cap space might affect the Buccaneers’ approach to free agency and some clearing up needs to be done.
Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos
Considered to be the GOAT, Brady hangs up his jersey and hits retirement. This breaking news pushed the reset button at quarterback for the Buccaneers. With limited options on the market, Bridgewater seems to be the best man to fill the Buccaneers quarterback need. Bridgewater has plenty of pro-ball experience and seems to be a top contender for the next Buccaneer quarterback.
Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
If Gronk chooses to hang up his cleats, the Buccaneers should start shopping for a new tight end. With an elite tight end market, Ertz would be a perfect fit to complete the overpowered Buccaneers offense. From his time in Philadelphia to his season in Arizona, Ertz always makes an impact when on the turf. Whether a leaping grab in the endzone or setting up a tough block to move the chains.
Cam Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
With Jensen and Alex Cappa hovering over free agency, the Buccaneers should consider adding an offensive lineman. Robinson would fit right into the veteran offensive line. With a 6’6″ frame and a heavy build; Robinson can block pretty much anyone. While Robinson could see free agency, the Jaguars still have a shot to put a franchise tag on the 26-year-old.
Previewing the 2022 NFL Draft
Round 1, Pick 27: Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College
Young talent is always needed: Especially with Jensen on the verge of free agency, Johnson can be the next man up for the Buccaneers’ offensive line. With a 6’3″ frame weighing 315 lbs, Johnson could evolve into a monster. While Tampa Bay has a late first-round pick, the Buccaneers anticipate that Johnson will be around when the time comes. If Johnson isn’t available, there are a few other linemen the Buccaneers can turn to. Daniel Faalele and Nicholas Petit-Frere are both great prospects to fall back on.
Round 2, Pick 60: Logan Hall, DT, Penn State
With several linemen closing in on free agency, it seems the Buccaneers should consider drafting some young talent. Hall, standing at 6’6″, would be a great addition to the Buccaneers’ defensive line. After recording six sacks along with 47 tackles in 2021, Hall is making a case to mold into a star. If not the Buccaneers, Hall should hear his name selected sometime in the second round.
Round 3, Pick 92: Jerrion Ealy, RB, Ole Miss
While not the best running back in the draft, Ealy is a solid late-round selection. As Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones are in free agency trouble, the Buccaneers might end up with neither back next season. This would conclude in the Buccaneers’ option to select a replacement in the upcoming draft. Ealy would be a great selection for Tampa Bay. After racking up five touchdowns tacking on 768 rushing yards, Ealy could be a danger factor in the coming years.
Early 2022 Expectations
With the expectation of signing a quarterback, the Buccaneers should see the postseason. As of recent, their lineup is still pretty stacked and hopefully, they can bring back some of their free agents. However, as previously noted, the Buccaneers don’t have much cap room which can leave some players free to sign elsewhere. From Godwin to Fournette, the Buccaneers need to buckle down in order to maintain their superstars.
Follow Rephael Negnewitzky on Twitter @RephaelN613
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images