WR David Patten was one of a handful of unrestricted free agents re-signed by the Saints in the opening weeks of free agency
The purpose of the ongoing Free Agency Tracker on Buccaneers.com is to keep tabs on all of the players from Tampa Bay's 2007 roster who became free agents at the beginning of the new league year. We're tracking Sammy Davis' return to the Buccaneers, Brian Kelly's departure to Detroit and – in the weeks and months to come – the eventual destinations of all those '07 Bucs in search of new contracts.
The real action this spring, however, has been on the other side of the ledger. Blessed with significant cap space born of many sound decisions over the past several years, the Buccaneers have had the ability and the inclination to be active on the open market. Already, 11 players who toiled for other teams last fall have joined the Buccaneers since the start of free agency (including one, quarterback Brian Griese, who was acquired through a trade). A 12th, wide receiver Antonio Bryant, was a free agent who did not play in the league in 2007 but is also an established veteran new to Tampa.
Those signings, obviously, have been covered elsewhere on Buccaneers.com. In addition to Griese and Bryant, Tampa Bay has also added center Jeff Faine, tight ends John Gilmore and Ben Troupe, defensive linemen Marques Douglas and Jimmy Wilkerson, linebackers Leon Joe, Matt McCoy and Teddy Lehman, running back Warrick Dunn and defensive back Eugene Wilson. That kind of action has made the Buccaneers one of the most aggressive teams on this year's market, as the team has looked to address depth concerns at almost every spot on the roster.
However, the Buccaneers aren't the only team with cap space and an open checkbook this spring. In fact, they happen to reside in a division, the NFC South, that has been busy from top to bottom. All four of the South's teams have made significant personnel moves this month, albeit with different approaches. The New Orleans Saints, winners of the division in 2006 but a disappointing 7-9 last year, have been pulling out the stops to rework their defense. The Falcons, who stumbled to 4-12 last year while absorbing the difficult departures of quarterback Michael Vick and Head Coach Bobby Petrino, have engineered a pretty significant roster turnover. And the Panthers, also 7-9 and looking to return to playoff glory, have tended to their offensive and looked for help for wide receiver Steve Smith.
Before we update the lists of the Buccaneers' own free agents and their moves so far, let's take a team-by-team look at what the rest of the NFC South has done so far in terms of player comings and goings.