The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 34 players they could possibly lose in free agency this offseason. Here we’ll explore all possibilities of a few impact players.
Tampa Bay relied heavily on many role players to make big-time plays throughout the 2016 season. With a heap of those role players having one-year deals with the team, it’s now time for the Bucs to evaluate the players and pursue who they think can become playmakers or potential role players.
WR Vincent Jackson, 34
V-Jax had a few fantastic seasons with the Bucs after signing with the team back in 2012. He’s posted 20 TD’s in 63 games as a Buccaneer and is one of the top receivers in Tampa Bay history. Jackson’s contract was five years worth $55,555,555, including 26,000,000 guaranteed.
Going into his 13th season as a pro, it hasn’t been told if Jackson will continue to play in the NFL or retire during the offseason. He has expressed to the team that he’d like to retire as a Buccaneer, but he may believe he has more in the tank.
Jackson’s only played 15 out of a possible 32 games the past two seasons due to injury, so a return to the field for Jackson would mean he would need to be fully healthy.
For Tampa Bay, bringing back the veteran wouldn’t be a bad move for the right price. Jackson has played a big role in the development of young Bucs’ Mike Evans and Jameis Winston throughout the past few seasons. The veteran presence from V-Jax would make a difference in the huddle in 2017, so perhaps the front office and the veteran come to a deal.
DE William Gholston, 25
Will Gholston was a solid piece of this Tampa Bay defense, mainly stopping the run. He’s posted 10.5 sacks and 126 tackles over his four-year career.
The team has a nice set of defensive ends in Gholston, Robert Ayers Jr., and Noah Spence as potential starters going into next season. The team also still has Jacquies Smith, who missed all but one snap in 2016. Last season, Gholston started all 14 games he appeared in.
The young DE comes at a nice price as he falls under-the-radar to big names in free agency, such as Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Melvin Ingram. If Gholston resigns to the team, the Bucs’ defensive line could continue to grow into one of the best under defensive coordinator Mike Smith.
S Bradley McDougald, 26
McDougald started from the very bottom. After being signed by the Kansas City Chiefs shortly after going undrafted, he was cut in the middle of the 2013 season, and a day after, signed by the Bucs. The Kansas product worked hard throughout the 2013 and 2014 seasons, eventually becoming a starter in 2015.
McDougald is a solid piece of this defense, although he can sometime be sucked in by the play-action, he has outstanding ball skill and is very comfortable playing the ball in the air, as he was originally recruited as a receiver in college.
McDougald’s situation is very interesting as he got a lot of attention due to his performance last year, despite the Bucs ranking 22nd in passing defense. The market for McDougald varies, but the Bucs have made it clear they plan on bringing him back.
Happy Birthday 30! You know how we rock ✊🏾 @BabyLead pic.twitter.com/mkf7HQs35L
— Jude Adjei-Barimah (@1prince_adjei) November 15, 2016
WR Russell Shepard, 26
Shepard is more than just a player for the Buccaneers. In 2016, the Bucs’ utility man won the hearts of many players and fans by showing his passion on and off the field. Last season, he played his biggest role as a pro, scoring two touchdowns on 23 receptions.
The LSU-man has played all four seasons in a Bucs’ uniform and stood out in 2016. I don’t see why the team would let Shep go, as it seems he’s found a home in Tampa.
Tampa Bay ended up with one of the top special team units in all of football. Shepard was the captain of the special teams and was an emotion leader as well. Bringing back Shep should be a top-priority during in-house signings.
WATCH: Former LSU wide receiver Russell Shepard hauls in nice touchdown… https://t.co/UH9iY1RCb6 #GeauxTigers pic.twitter.com/vERix2Okye
— SEC Country LSU (@SECCountryLSU) October 30, 2016
QB Mike Glennon, 27
Glennon has been with the team since he was drafted back in 2013. He’s never been the solidified starter for the team, but now seeks a starting spot moving into free agency. But the Bucs also like having a reliable backup like Glennon is.
The Bucs are looking at paying market value for Glennon now, as teams like the Jets and Browns will probably pay more upfront than teams looking for a backup QB would, and although he’s taken a back seat to Jameis Winston, Glennon is still a very good player.
I see the Bucs being in talks with Glennon throughout the free agency period but eventually seeing Glennon move along. If Glennon does leave, it will leave the Bucs a hole behind Winston. It will depend if Ryan Griffin can step up in camp and take the backup spot, but the team will bring in competition in training camp.
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