With the free agency signing period just around the corner, the Buccaneers will have some decisions to make with the approximately $80 million they will be under the salary cap.
There are three players the Bucs need to sign quickly. Let’s start with Mike Evans. Evans will make $13.25 mill this season in the final year of his rookie contract. Evans will then be a UFA and be free to sign with anyone. The Bucs need to sign Evans to a new contract sooner rather than later. He is a key component to the Bucs offensive success. It’s time to “pay the man.” Evans has averaged over 1,000 yards receiving his first four years in the league and has missed just two games in his career.
Jameis Winston, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft has improved every year in the league. Although he was 3-10 as a starter this season, Winston improved his accuracy to 63 percent, and his passer rating improved to 92 percent both career highs. According to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, Winston could make $20.5 million dollars in the final year of his contract in 2019. The Bucs would be foolish to not pick up his option and the Bucs would be wise to open up contract negioations immediately.
Kwon Alexander the All-pro is another Buccaneer whom the Bucs should sign to new contract ASAP. Alexander is becoming an anchor on this Bucs defense, and the team cannot afford to let a player of his talent just walk away. Alexander will earn around $1,9 million in 2018 and will then be a UFA for 2019. Alexander was second on the team with 97 tackles this season after his team leading 145 in 2016.
The Bucs also need to think about possibly re-signing a couple of their young OL Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith who will be FA’s in 2019. Again, You can’t wait till the last minute to sign these players. Negotiatons should start well in advance of the 2019 season with Marpet.
The Bucs will be around $80 million under the cap after decisions are made on Doug Martin, Chris Baker, and Robert Ayers. Martin and Baker will not be back as the Bucs will save just over $11 million on these two contracts.
OL Kevin Pamphile is also a UFA. All indications from the Bucs and Pamphile are that they want him back in Tampa, and Pamphile wants to be back, but will test the free agent waters.
DB Brent Grimes is undecided on coming back or retiring. Grimes was the best DB for the Bucs last season and would be sorely missed if he moves on. Some other notable names on the Bucs roster are also UFA’s. DL Clinton McDonald, Sealver Siligia, and Will Clarke will test the FA market. DB’s TJ Ward, Robert McClain, and Keith Tandy are also UFA’s. OL Evan Smith, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and RB Charles Sims are all UFA’s.
The Bucs also have a couple of RFA’s who will be trying to get paid and may go to the highest bidder. TE Cameron Brate and WR Adam Humphries are two players I would like to see back. Humphries who is the third receiver behind Evans and Jackson caught 55 passes for 624 yards in 2016. Brate is a nice compliment to OJ Howard at the TE position and is an asset for this offense. Other RFA’s include Ryan Russell, Adarious Glanton, and Jude Adjeh Barimah.
So before the Bucs hit the shopping market on March 14th, for potential FA’s, the front office has some work to do and must get some of their own talent signed to long term contracts.