Bucs should spend big on Olivier Vernon, not Doug Martin
The Buccaneers made a step in the right direction on offense in 2015 after drafting Jameis Winston with the No. 1-overall pick, but their defensive ineptitude relegated them to a 6-10 finish and sent Lovie Smith packing. Tampa Bay will have to overhaul their defense that is not only bereft of talent, but is also starting a handful of players that were specifically chosen for Lovie Smith’s scheme. With almost $50 million in projected cap space, the Buccaneers can use free agency as a nice crutch to take the next step towards the playoffs.
CB Sterling Moore
There aren’t too many starters from the Bucs entering free agency this offseason, though Moore was one by the end of the season. After signing a relatively inexpensive one-year deal with Tampa Bay last offseason, Moore graded out around average in 729 snaps last year. He’s a versatile player who can matchup outside or in the slot. He didn’t “wow” by any means, but the Bucs could simply use a cheap, average corner in a secondary that’s lacking talent.
RB Doug Martin
Letting our top-ranked running back in 2015 go free might sound crazy at first, but the more I look at it, the more it makes sense. There is no doubt Martin is an impact player and he’ll likely command top dollar for the way he can impact both the run and the pass. But with a back as talented as Charles Sims locked up for the next two seasons, why risk throwing money at a running back that could revert to 2013-2014 Doug Martin if he gets nicked up?
S Chris Conte
The Bucs are desperate for help in the secondary, but holding on to Chris Conte isn’t the answer. The safety has proven to be of little use outside of a cover-2 heavy scheme throughout his career and wasn’t even anything special in that. If they are looking for a starter next year, it should be elsewhere.
DT Henry Melton
It was an odd signing from the beginning, seeing as Melton plays the same position as Gerald McCoy. Without much money invested though, the Bucs shouldn’t double down on their mistake.
DE Olivier Vernon
The Bucs are utterly desperate for edge pressure and have the cap space that Miami doesn’t have to go out and get Vernon. He’s only 25 years old and would be a cornerstone of that defense for the foreseeable future if they could nab him. Vernon’s 30 quarterback hits in 2015 were more than the entire starting defensive line for Tampa Bay. It would also allow them more freedom in the draft and not have them locked in on an edge defender.
S Walter Thurmond
More defense, go figure. They could stand to add another receiver, but their secondary is such a mess that revamping it should be a major priority. If the Bucs do go after a high priced edge rusher, they’ll want a more modestly priced safety and Walter Thurmond is that guy. He graded out positively in coverage, run defense, and pass rushing in his first year as a safety in Philadelphia and would be a step up from anyone else on the roster.