4 Free Agents For The Buccaneers To Target

March 8th, 2019


We’re less than a week away from NFL free agency, otherwise known as “buyer beware” time.

Teams usually don’t get younger when acquiring free agents, but the idea is to get better and Bruce Arians can’t wait to dip a cleat into this available talent pool.

Unlike other years, the Bucs aren’t blessed with an abundance of salary-cap room, so Jason Licht and his staff will be digging for value. Here are four free agents who can help at One Buc Place without breaking the bank.

DB Kareem Jackson
I didn’t list Jackson as a corner or safety because part of his appeal is his effectiveness at both positions.

Kareem Jackson

“Kareem had a really good year for us,” says Houston coach Bill O’Brien. “He’s a versatile player. He’s a guy that has leadership qualities. He’s been with us since the day I walked in here. He’s an original Texan and has had a good career here.”

Jackson was a first-round pick in 2010 and has played his entire career with the Texans, who annually rank among the league’s better defensive teams.

His 2018 season was one of his best. At the age of 30, Jackson posted 87 tackles, including five for loss, two interceptions, 17 pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack.

If Tampa Bay can close the deal with Jackson, Todd Bowles would be getting a veteran who can play slot corner, outside corner or safety. Jackson, who made a base salary of $6.5 million in each of the past two seasons, could serve as a mentor for a young secondary desperate for leadership.

OLB/DE Za’Darius Smith
Another versatile defensive player, Smith was very productive for the Ravens last season, despite starting only eight games. With a team-leading 8.5 sacks, 45 tackles and 25 quarterback hits, Smith has the potential to be a very disruptive player in Bowles’ aggressive system.

Smith is just entering his prime, turning 27 in September, and those 10 tackles for loss in limited playing time suggest he’s on the cusp of being a big-time force.

“Za’Darious is tenacious,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said at last week’s combine. “He brings it, man. He’s a high-energy pass rusher. He can line up at any one of the four spots and he can bring it. He can blitz, he can drop as an outside ’backer. Very versatile player, but more than anything, I just love his intensity level.”

There will be other suitors for Smith, who earned a base salary of $1.9 million in 2018, but the Bucs need to take a long look at him as an intriguing fit.

RB T.J. Yeldon
Once Leonard Fournette came aboard as a first-round pick two years ago, Yeldon’s days as Jacksonville’s primary ball carrier were over. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a productive back for the Bucs, especially on third down as a legitimate threat out of the backfield.

Since Charles Sims went AWOL after a superb 2015 season, Tampa Bay hasn’t had the luxury of pairing Jameis Winston with a back who can consistently turn screens and short passes into key gains.

And given the shaky hands of rookie Ronald Jones, Yeldon makes sense on the depth chart behind Peyton Barber. He averaged 8.9 yards on his 55 catches last season, reaching the end zone four times.

Yeldon is only 25 and he just finished up his rookie contract. He doesn’t figure to generate big money as a free agent, but he can contribute significantly on the money down.

QB Trevor Siemian
Only 27, Siemian did not take a single snap last season as the backup to Kirk Cousins in Minnesota. He’s smart enough to realize his days as an NFL starter are behind him, even though he went 13-11 in Denver before he was traded to the Vikings a year ago.

Siemian would project as a capable backup to Winston, but not a threat to take Winston’s job should No. 3 endure a difficult stretch. That’s a favorable scenario as the Bucs move on from Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Ira Kaufman began covering the NFL as a New York Giants beat writer in 1979. He arrived on the Buccaneers beat in 1985, and the corporate leash finally was removed from his neck when he joined JoeBucsFan.com in July 2016. The award-winning Ira Kaufman Podcast fires twice per week, and Ira’s columns appear thrice weekly, except when Ira is on special assignment. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter also is a popular guest on various national radio and on local TV. He’s also co-host of TAMPA TWO at The Identity Tampa Bay, which returns to its regular format in March.

32 Responses to “4 Free Agents For The Buccaneers To Target”

  1. Dubcity06 Says:

    CB Kareem Jackson
    S Adrian Amos
    DT Malcolm Brown
    OLB Shaquil Barrett

    And hopefully

    MLB CJ Mosely

  2. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I like it. Not sure how much Smith would cost.

    If we did this then we’d need to go OG R2 or R3 which is OK with me. Would be nice to have a solid O-line piece or 2 on rookie deals for a few years.

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Some reasonable suggestions that won’t break the bank…….

    As far as RBs are concerned……someone to compliment Barber…..if ROJO doesn’t rise…..

  4. hfxbuc Says:


  5. FlBoy84 Says:

    Like three of them, but expect Yeldon to garner more interest than expected and price himself out of the Bucs market. Think the competition between Ellington and Wilson will produce our 3rd down back for this year at least.

  6. tmaxcon Says:

    wow I never agree with this living in the past has been supporter but that is a nice list…

  7. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    I like Yeldon but I like Carlos Hyde even more. Neither of these guys break the bank and they are quality players.

  8. StoutGospel Says:

    Ummm….you stole my Z Smith idea! 🙂 🙂 been on that wagon for awhile.

    TJ Lang!!! RG! If healthy, was total stud for GB prior to DET. Have Lang in for a physical like now, cuz he’s cut, he can show up now, NOT Wednesday!

    Get on the phone Licht!

    Go Bucs!

  9. J dubb Says:

    I see tj Lang was released, he and tayshaun Gipson interest me as I think they could be had at a relatively cheap rate. Lang would fill a huge void at guard. I do like Gipson although I believe corner is much more needed than safety.

  10. Cgmaster27v Says:

    Carlos hyde was just released. He would be perfect.

  11. nate s Says:

    bell or bust draft a lineman first round

  12. DJS Says:

    Buddy claims to have bumped into a NYJ beat writer this morning on the subway. He advised the writer told him Mike Evans’ name has come up in talks. Bologna? Any whispers around this at the Combine? Makes no sense to me.

  13. Duthsty Rhothdes Says:

    Carlos Hyde is a good one….Im leaning towards TJ Yeldon as he might be more in the david johnson mold

  14. Jonzey Says:

    No, No, No, No

  15. ben Says:

    Why shouldn’t Winston have a threat to take his job if his play doesn’t improve ?. Is he afraid !!

  16. Jeffbuc Says:

    I would take a look at Darby and see how much he is going to command. He is only 25 and coming off an acl injury might could get a discount to come play back in Florida with his good friend jameis. And I would look into Houston from the chiefs. And Quinn was just released by the dolphins. Either of them would fit the new 3-4 scheme well. And would be great coaches on the field to help develop Spence who is similar in stature to them. And I would really like to get Mark Ingram. Hurt the saints and improve are running game. With him and babrber splitting carries wearing down teams with there hard nosed running styles while staying fresher. And have Rojo be are change of pace back when we need some negative runs and dropped passes to kill drives when we don’t won’t to run up the score on teams. Perfect combo

  17. Loyaltotheend Says:

    All 4 make sense but common sense and logic aren’t used by this organization

  18. Bucsfanman Says:

    Loyaltotheend- And to that I say, AMEN!
    I’m hoping that this is the year it changes.

  19. catcard202 Says:

    I do not expect the Bucs to be overly aggressive in FA.
    No Big Splash signings, unless the FO finds a way to get Honey Badger to take a less than market value deal. (Probably not happening)

    The smart $$ is on the FO signing a couple tier3 “last hurrah” Vets that BA/Bowles are familiar with, on low risk/high reward deals …(Ellington is a good example)… Then lean on their big board & draft savvy to fill the holes w/ young-rookie contract talent.

  20. SOEbuc Says:

    I don’t care about BA saying “reloading not rebuilding.” They need to rebuild that defense with two or three quality players in FA and draft one in the first. Vets also teach young guys, not just coaches. I would think they’re going to start Dot resigning him $4.8 million but they could also be thinking of getting a RT in the third or the fourth. OG Chris Lindstrom in the second is who I’m voting for.

    I think what we do in FA is really going to effect the draft. We don’t have a ton of cash to get too many splash players in FA and this defense needs to get some serious vets somewhere on defense (CB gape) that haven’t been coached by Mike Smith their entire career.

    At the moment for me I’m thinking 50/50 at staying at five or trading back. Have to wait and see what happens. This team needs to be somewhat if not a lot “rebuilt.”

  21. macabee Says:

    Take a chance and keep your money in your pockets!

    The Bucs are going to need help at the RB position, but can’t afford to spend an early round pick on another RB. RB Kareem Hunt now has full employment with the Browns. So does LB Reuben Foster with the Redskins. RB Joe Mixon is doing just fine at the Bengals. The NFL has given WR Josh Gordon and other players who have been suspended several chances to play again.

    It is being reported, per a league source, that in the next CBA, the NFL is prepared to make major concessions regarding the substance-abuse policy, especially as it relates to marijuana. The state of Florida and the whole damn country is rethinking its position on marijuana! DT David Irving/Cowboys, 25, says he is retiring until the rule changes.

    The NFL just recently reinstated 25yr old RB Karlos Williams. Why not give Williams a second chance? The Bucs need a big RB that is an excellent receiver out of the backfield. Why not sign Karlos to a 1yr veteran minimum prove it deal and see if he makes good on it? BA gave Honey Badger a chance when nobody else wanted to. WR Chris Carter sits in the HOF after turning his life around.

    Ordinarily I would say no to this, but if any coach could manage this player, BA would get my vote. Williams had talent when he came out of FSU and did well when drafted in the 5th round by the Bills. Watch below as Winston hands off and passes to the big RB. Nothing fails but a try! Go Bucs!

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    Kudos Ira … 4 excellent FA choices who would all fill a NEED here in Bucsville. As StoutGospel mentioned, TJ Lang looked very promising IMO when he was drafted (2009) & had a great run with Green Bay (8 years) before moving on to Detroit (2 years). Getting somewhat long in the tooth (almost 32) but could be a good bridge player for us for a couple of years (we can’t fix everything in 1 year). Only concern would be the neck injury that he sustained last November that landed him on the IR list. But hey, bring him in for a look-see and if he pans out, sign him to a 2-year $10 mil contract.

  23. Bird Says:

    Patriots send a 5th round pick to eagles to get Michael Bennett. Patriots get their 7.

    Salary is only 6.5 mil.

    The rich get richer

  24. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Isn’t Schiano the new DC? lol.

  25. JimmyJack Says:

    This Free Agency is different because we are set on offense. Tons of big time priced players who who are expected to make big time plays and win us games. They have proven to have enough ability but that’s only half the battle.

    Usually this team needs to(or thinks) they need add a bunch of superstars to stand a chance to win but this year we have the talent.

    I am only talking about the offense here. The defense has proven nothing except last place in almost every statistic that you can find.

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    @JimmyJack … “this year we have the talent (on offense)”. Why does everyone keep assuming that this offense will play light’s out? It’s averaged 20 PPG for the past 3 years JimmyJack (when you subtract the defense’s scores). And now we could very well be losing DJax AND Humphries, and our RB stable is pretty thin. Anything better than 20 PPG is pure speculation at this point because the cast of characters is the same (or less).

    I’ll grant you that “the defense has proven nothing” but for the most part they’re young and now have a year of experience under their belt. With some good coaching, I personally expect guys like Davis, VHIII, Nassib, Vea, Whitehead & Evans to improve quite a bit. Even guys like Ryan Smith & Stewart & Gholston & Spence might shine. Hopefully we re-sign Andrew Adams & Taylor, then draft Devin White to start at MLB plus another LB, DE & DT. Gut feeling is that the Bucs’ defense will improve more than our offense will this year in terms of scoring.

  27. JimmyJack Says:

    The biggest need on defense is the DC position. I don’t know much about Bowels but at least he has some cred.

    We had 3 secondary players all collide head on with each other in the middle of the endzone on game 16………Three freaking years in the same defense and our defense don’t know what their job is? WTF dude!!!

    I found care how great you are. You run the wrong route your worthless.

  28. Jimbuctoo Says:

    What I would like to know is how are we going to sign any free agents without massive cuts from the current roster since we only have #3+ million to spend? It’s one thing to cut Unrein, Allen and even Desean or McCoy but you still have to replace the positions that they filled and we simply don’t have the money. Little nervous even though I like the Arians hire. I hope they know what they’re doing.

  29. JimmyJack Says:

    Defense Rules. I am not assuming that this offense will play lights out. Far from it.

    But from a roster standpoint we have the playmakers in place(Winston, Evans, O.J., LT/C). These are are not on the team to be JAGs. We have quite a few solid players to put with them as starters and quality experienced depth at many positions.

    We do have needs on offense but nothing that requires huge investments.

  30. JimmyJack Says:

    Our offense is a legit NFL caliber defense. Our defense most closely resembles a pack of pigeons fighting over a french fry.

  31. StoutGospel Says:


    Go Bucs! Get Quinnen!

  32. TOM Says:

    I feel sorry for the misguided fools who think the cap strap Bucs could pay Bell. Hell they probably couldn’t pay Hyde.