Bucs Need Multiple Defensive Ends this Off-Season

Defensive end is a position the Bucs should be desperate for this off-season.

Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking down each position on the Bucs roster. During this process, I will discuss who stays, who goes, top free agent targets that make sense, and players that fit the position in the draft.

We have already looked at the following positions:

Wide Receivers
Safeties
Running Backs
Linebackers
Quarterbacks 
Cornerbacks
Tight Ends
Defensive Tackles

Today, we focus on the Bucs' Defensive Ends.

Current Roster:

Player

Under Contract

2016 Cap Number

Stays/Goes

Comment

Jacquies Smith

ERFA

$0

Stays

The Bucs will sign Smith to a small salary as an ERFA. I think 2016 is a big year for Smith to prove he deserves a spot with the Bucs for the long term.

Will Gholston

Thru 2016

$1.75 million

Stays

If the Bucs truly plan to play some 4-3 and some 3-4, Gholston will be an ideal fit. He's continually improved.

George Johnson

Thru 2017

$2 million

Goes

Johnson has recorded sacks in one of his 6 NFL seasons. It was also the only one of those seasons he wasn't with the Bucs. Good bye.

Howard Jones

Thru 2016

$525,000

Stays

Young pass rusher who has some value. Again, Jones can fit in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

TJ Fatinikun

ERFA

$0

Stays

Fatinikun will be cheap, so I think he makes it to training camp.

Da'Quan Bowers

UFA

$0

Goes

Bowers is always a candidate to come back on a very cheap deal.

Larry English

UFA

$0

Goes

I don't see a scenario where English comes back.

Martin Ifedi

Thru 2017

$470,000

Stays

Young player who will be on the bubble throughout the offseason.

Cliff Matthews

Thru 2017

$760,000

Stays

Matthews was in Atlanta with both Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter. He's still looking for his 1st NFL sack.

Jermauria Rasco

Thru 2017

$450,000

Goes

Rasco's roster spot will be a revolving door.

Top Free Agent Targets:

Olivier Vernon | Miami Dolphins
Yes, Vernon received the Dolphins transition tag, but that doesn't mean he's untouchable. The Dolphins cap situation is a mess, and there's no way they will invest massive money in the trio of Vernon, Ndamukong Suh, and Cameron Wake. The Bucs can still go after Vernon if they feel the 25 year old is by far the best pass rusher available, as I believe. Vernon might have only had 7.5 sacks in 2015, but he also had 18 tackles for a loss (4th in NFL) and 35 QB hits (3rd in NFL).

Mario Williams | Buffalo Bills
Williams has been the darling of many Bucs fans. Sure, I get the fact that the statistics have been strong for Williams. I also understand that, in a league starved for pass rushers, Mario Williams is now looking for his 3rd NFL team. Williams also pouted because he didn't fit the Bills 3-4 defense. Well, as i stated earlier, the Bucs plan to play some 3-4 as well. Factor in that Williams is already 31 years old, I just don't think the Bucs will make a big play for Williams.

Chris Long | LA Rams
Long is far from an elite pass rusher, but he is an effort guy, and would be an excellent leader for a young defense. I think the Bucs would want a bigger threat as a pass rusher, which makes me believe they won't be going after Long.

Jason Pierre-Paul | New York Giants
Pierre-Paul played his college ball for USF right here in Tampa. He's defenitely a tricky sign after his incident. It would not surprise me if the Bucs were at least intrigued with Pierre-Paul. In the end, I'm not sure the Bucs would be willing to pay the price needed for Pierre-Paul with so many question marks still surrounding him.

Kroy Biermann | Atlanta Falcons
Biermann is an interesting name that's available. He has obvious ties with Mike Smith, can be a veteran leader on the Bucs defense, and would come at a bargain price. I wouldn't look to Biermann as a savior, but he could be a nice depth piece for the defensive line.

Robert Ayers | New York Giants
I think Ayers may end up being one of the more over paid players in free agency this off-season. He's a decent defensive end, but will likely be paid as being much more than that. The Bucs would probably be smart to stay out of this one.

Junior Galette | Washington Redskins
Galette tore his achilles heal and missed the 2015 season. He'll likely go to a team on a 1-year prove it deal. He is a good fit in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense.

Top Names in the NFL Draft:

Early Names:
Noah Spence - Eastern Kentucky
Joey Bosa - Ohio State
DeForest Buckner - Oregon
Shaq Lawson - Clemson
Kevin Dodd - Clemson
Emmanuel Ogbah - Oklahoma State
Bronson Kaufusi - BYU
Leonard Floyd - Georgia

Late Round Sleepers:
James Cowser - Southern Utah
Ronad Blair - Appalachain State
Matt Judon - Grand Valley State
Victor Ochi - Stony Brook
Yannick Ngakoue - Maryland


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