Reporting Justin Pawlowski
With Free Agency set to begin officially on Tuesday after a weekend of legal tampering, it’s always important to identify your top targets.
The Buccaneers head into free agency with more than $30 million under the league’s salary cap. That number can also go up by releasing a few players: Eric Wright ($7.75 million), Quincy Black ($5.5 million), and Michael Koenen ($3.25 million).
With the Bucs having many needs, but also a lot of money to work with, here is my wish list, in no particular order, for the Bucs during free agency. These names are pending that the Bucs can agree to a reasonable contract with each.
Phil Loadholt – OT – Vikings
Commish’s Comments: The one piece missing from making the Bucs offensive line complete and dominant is a right tackle. Loadholt is a massive right tackle that dominates as a run blocker. At 343 lbs, Loadholt would give the Bucs the biggest offensive line in the league and make Donald Penn feel skinny! If Loadholt asks for too much money, a back up option might be Gosder Cherilus from the Lions.
Derek Cox – CB – Jaguars
Commish’s Comments: There are still many who believe that Cox might be the Bucs top target in free agency if that’s the route (rather than draft or trade) they want to go to address this issue. Cox has dealt with numerous injuries, and while that might concern you, it might also bring his price down. Cox has been called a “secret superstar” by pro football focus and a hidden gem by others.
For those wondering, I would move Ronde to nickel cornerback, sign Derek Cox, and draft a cornerback in the first 3 rounds of the draft. I might even resign EJ Biggers at a very affordable price to bring back into the rotation. My hope would be that my draft pick (Rhodes? Trufant? 2nd round?) would start opposite of Cox. Ronde will be the nickel corner. EJ Biggers would battle with Leonard Johnson and Anthony Gaitor for limited playing time and roster spots. I would release Myron Lewis. Actually, I would have released Myron Lewis a long time ago.
Kenny Phillips – S – Giants
Commish’s Comments: I know the Bucs apparently have asked Ronde to come back in 2013, but we don’t know what they want him to come back and play. I would have Ronde move back to corner and only play in nickel situations. I would sign Kenny Phillips to be my free safety and centerfielder for the Bucs defense. After staying injury free for the most part in 2010 and 2011, Phillips dealt with injuries in 2012. I’m not sure if there is a big concern here, but like Cox, perhaps it brings his price down. Phillips still has good talent and is a major upgrade for the Bucs pass defense.
Dustin Keller – TE – Jets
Commish’s Comments: Keller would be a tremendous upgrade over Dallas Clark and an immediate threat over the middle of the field for the Bucs offense. He is very good as a pass receiver, but still holds his own when blocking. If Keller’s price is too high, I’d love the Bucs to take a very long look at Delanie Walker.
Sammie Lee Hill – DT – Lions
Commish’s Comments: It sure has seemed as though the Bucs have had little interest in bringing Roy Miller back for 2013. This is an assumption, but perhaps the Bucs would like to get bigger at nose tackle for 2013 and beyond. A bigger nose tackle will not only help in run support, but also be forced to have two blockers on him for every play. This would fre up either Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, or Da’Quan Bowers. Sammie Lee Hill was the odd man out in Detroit because of their cap constraints and the fact they have two 1st round picks (Suh and Fairly) at defensive tackle.
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