It’s official, the Buccaneers have asked Ronde Barber to return in 2013. However, we do not know what the Buccaneers would like Ronde to come back as. If the Bucs envision Ronde Barber as their nickel cornerback, then that would leave a void at safety.
Another area the Bucs need to improve at is slot receiver. To say that the Bucs could upgrade at slot receiver over Tiquan Underwood and Arrelious Benn would be an understatement. Benn has talent, but just can not stay healthy.
In the lists below, I will include only safeties that can play the deep middle in coverage and receivers that are logical targets for the Bucs as slot receivers. For example, Mike Wallace will not make the list.
Dashon Goldson, 28 (49ers) – I put Goldson on this list because he is the top safety in this free agent class as a 2-time pro bowler and All Pro from 2012. His strengths are more in run support though, so I’m iffy as to whether he’d be a logical player to break the bank on if him and Barron have similar strengths. I would doubt the Buccaneers sign Goldson, but you never know.
Louis Delmas, 25 (Lions) – A 2nd round pick just a few years ago, Delmas strength is supposed to be in coverage. After being close to injury free in his first 2 seasons in the NFL, Delmas has dealt with numerous injuries the last two seasons. Delmas should still attract a number of teams who will look past his injury history and see that he is still just 25 years old with plenty of potential.
Adrian Wilson, 34 (Cardinals) – I wanted to include Wilson because many people had asked me about him. He is not a fit with the Bucs. Wilson is a “box” safety and will most likely want to sign with a west coast contender to end his career.
Ed Reed, 34 (Ravens) – One of the best safeties in NFL history, Reed will most likely go to a true contender to end his career. How close are the Bucs to making a true run? How close do the Bucs believe they are to making a true run? These questions might affect the Bucs looking at Reed.
Kenny Phillips, 26 (Giants) – After staying close to injury-free in 2010 and 2011, Phillips missed most of 2012 with a sore knee. The knee injury was not of the serious variety, but it is a concern. Phillips is a bigger safety who can play in coverage and run support. Phillips could be a legitimate option for the Bucs.
Dawan Landry, 30 (Jaguars) – We might be making too big a deal of the Jaguar connection in the Bucs defensive backfield, but Landry is another that fits that mold. Landry was a hot name after the lockout on the open market, but after he struggled in 2011 and 2012, the Jaguars new brass decided to release him.
Other targets at safety: LaRon Landry (Jets), Patrick Chung (Patriots), Rashad Johnson (Cardinals)
Wes Welker, 31 (Patriots) – Welker is looking for a nice pay-day and to stick it to the Patriots if he does leave there. He would be ideal in the slot for the Bucs, but with Vincent Jackson’s new contract and Mike Williams already negotiating an extension, how much money will the Bucs want to spend on a 3rd receiver?
Danny Amendola, 27 (Rams) – The oft-injured Amendola is still considered one of the best slot receivers on the market this off-season. Reports have Amendola seeking $6 million per season.
Josh Cribbs, 29 (Browns) – Cribbs has been one of the most dynamic returners in the NFL for the past several seasons. His playmaking ability could make him a valuable asset in the slot if used properly.
Julian Edelman, 26 (Patriots) – Often compared to Wes Welker, Edelman would be a much cheaper…and younger…option on the open market. Edelman also is a big contributor on special teams.
Ramses Barden, 27 (Giants) – We have to include a Giants connection here. Mike Sullivan knows Barden from his days with the Giants. Barden shined when given an opportunity in 2012. At 6’6” and 224 lbs, Barden’s size could help the Bucs in the middle of the field.
Other targets as slot receivers: Domenik Hixon (Giants), Mohamed Massaquoi (Browns), Louis Murphy (Panthers), Matt Willis (Broncos)
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