With free agency less than a week away, it appears the Buccaneers could be very active yet again. After some likely cuts of Anthony Collins, Dashon Goldson, and Michael Koenen, which will yield the Bucs an additional $10.25 million towards their cap room. According to spotrac.com, the Bucs currently have around $29.5 million in cap space, but that would near $40 million in cap space with the releases listed.
Needless-to-say, the Bucs are in very good position with the salary cap and should be able to bring in multiple top free agents if that's the avenue they'd like to take again. Bucs GM Jason Licht has said that the Bucs will use everything at their disposal to improve their roster.
It isn't my money, so I'm going to spend it. Here is what I would consider doing for free agency before we get to the draft:
Bucs Players I Would Resign:
Leonard Johnson, CB: Laugh if you want, but Johnson is just 25 years old, knows the system, works hard, contributes on special teams, and is a good character guy.
Bradley McDougald, S: McDougald is an exclusive rights free agent, so he isn't going anywhere, nor should he. I think McDougald could end up being special in the Bucs defense.
Lawrence Sidbury, DE: Sidbury will only take a minimum contract to bring back. I'd like to see him during an entire off-season and training camp. At such a low price, I want to see that "Sidbury Spin" in action.
Larry English, DE: I think English is another guy who won't command a big contract, but can provid depth on the defensive line.
Mike Jenkins, CB: It was disappointing to see Jenkins go down with a season-ending injury early in 2014. The Bucs should be able to bring Jenkins back on another 1-year deal for low money.
Major Wright, S: I'm not bringing Wright back as a starter, but he provides nice depth at safety for me.
Luke Stocker, TE: I'm not sure what Luke Stocker will be asking for, but if it is within reason, I'd love to bring back my blocking tight end who can also play full back.
Bobby Rainey, RB: I'll tender an offer to Rainey, but he'll still have to earn his spot in training camp.
Solomon Patton, KR/PR: I'll bring Patton back, but he's going to have a tough time earning a roster spot unless he can show me that he can be a special return man.
Orie Lemon, LB: I really like Lemon for depth at linebacker and as a special teams player.
Free Agent Targets:
Devin McCourty, S: I keep hearing that McCourty is one of the Bucs top targets, if not their number one target. If the Bucs can get him in for a visit, I doubt they let him leave without a contract. McCourty can play the centerfield position and is one of the best coverage safeties in the NFL. This will be a tough one for the Bucs to sign as McCourty will be an extremely hot commodity with a weak class of safeties in both free agency and the draft. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $8 million
Orlando Franklin, OG: Deciding on an offensive lineman was the toughest thing for me to do because I have no idea of the contract they will ask for. If Franklin wants similar money and years to what Bryan Bulaga wants, I'd go with Bulaga as my right tackle. I think Franklin should get paid less than Bulaga and might be a more realistic target than Iupati. Franklin is a Florida guy who played high school and college in Florida. Franklin can play either guard or right tackle, which leaves me open to drafting either position in the draft. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $7 million
Greg Hardy, DE: This is a tricky one for me. Hardy was on the commissioner's exempt list last season for domestic violence, but there will be a team that signs him because he is still a talented pass rusher. If I'm going to agree to signing Hardy, the contract will have to have specific language and incentives to protect my investment in him. If Hardy stays clean off the field, he provides the legitimate pass rush the Bucs have been searching for. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $6 million (This one is tough to predict)
Harry Douglas, WR: Douglas should not command a big contract and is a player that can split time with Louis Murphy as the 3rd/slot receiver. Douglas had the best statistical seasons of his career with Dirk Koetter as his offensive coordinator. Former Ravens WR/KR JaCoby Jones is a possibility as well. The Bucs could also hold off on another WR until the draft, which is loaded at WR. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $2.5 million
Lance Briggs, LB: With Danny Lansanah coming back, it is uncertain what his best position might be. Briggs has a tie to Lovie Smith and could bring some veteran leadership to the Bucs defense. Briggs could play strongside linebacker and allow Lansanah to battle with a rookie at middle linebacker. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $3 million
Matt Moore, QB: I don't anticipate the Bucs bringing Mike Glennon back for the 2015 season. Moore would be a nice veteran QB to come in and help groom the Bucs rookie (Jameis Winston) quarterback. COST PREDICTION for 2015: $2 million
I think the Bucs would probably still have a good amount of cap room left over after all of these moves if they can get cap-friendly deals on players like Douglas, Briggs, and Moore. My predictions leave these free agent signings costing the Bucs approximately $28.5 million. If they start with around $40 million, that would still leave the Bucs with around $11.5 million in cap space. If the Bucs have the available cap space and reasonable contracts can be negotiated, I wouldn't mind them going after a defensive tackle like Stephen Paea or Henry Melton. The remaining cap space can also go towards a new contract for Lavonte David.
If you're concerned about the Bucs cap room in 2016 and beyond, don't fret. The Bucs would get back the dead money they currently would have for 2015, which could be around $10 million. They'd also have players they could release or trade next off-season and gain a large chunk of cap room back like Vincent Jackson ($9.8 million), Logan Mankins ($7 million), and Michael Johnson ($8.25 million). According to my math, that is around an additional $35 million in cap space the may be able to work with next off-season.
All cap numbers come courtesy of spotrac.com and overthecap.com.
Don't forget to see what I think the Bucs could do in the draft after these moves in free agency. Here's my latest 7-Round Bucs only mock draft.
Follow Bucs Blitz on twitter: @TBBucsOnScout