Like the vast majority of Americans, NFL players, coaches and officials are currently working from home. However, the NFL's offseason continues to advance, with the 2020 draft a little less than three weeks away. Meanwhile, the first rush of free agency has wound down but there are occasional signings and re-signings to report. The Buccaneers most recently re-signed veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert on the first Friday of April.
So there are players on the move around the league, at least theoretically, including some who played for the Buccaneers in 2019 and some who did not but will in 2020. Our Free Agency Tracker will be paying attention to all of those moves and the ones to come over the next couple months. Here's where we are so far, as of the afternoon of Friday, April 3.
So, this is big. The Buccaneers found an incredibly bold way to address their starting quarterback position, bringing in the player many consider the greatest of all time. Brady's credentials are certainly worthy of that G.O.A.T. status, beginning with his record six Super Bowl championship rings. He's won more games as a starter in both the regular season and the postseason than any other quarterback, and he's also second on the NFL's all-time charts in both passing yards and touchdown passes. Interestingly, the only player ahead of him on both lists, and by relatively slim margins, is his new NFC South division-mate, the Saints' Drew Brees.
Haeg, who inked a one-year deal on Friday, March 20, provides the Buccaneers with some much-needed depth at the tackle position, with Demar Dotson, Jerald Hawkins and Josh Wells all becoming unrestricted free agents. Haeg played his first four seasons in Indianapolis and made a total of 35 starts while playing three different positions. While his experience at right guard offers valuable versatility, the Buccaneers likely targeted Haeg for his ability to play both tackle positions, as he did in Indianapolis.
To no one's surprise, the Buccaneers elected to use their franchise tag on Barrett when no long-term deal was in place by the tag deadline on Monday. It's the first time that the team has used a franchise or transition tag in eight years, and as was the case with kicker Connor Barth in 2012, the hope is that it will just be the precursor to a long-term deal later this offseason.
Players Released, Traded and/or Signed by Other Teams
The Bucs are doing a good job of keeping their strong defensive front intact in 2020 but they didn't bring back the entire depth chart. Allen left for a two-year deal with the Patriots, taking the reverse Tom Brady path. Nassib reportedly got a three-year contract with the Raiders, perhaps stepping back into a starting role after two good years in Tampa. The Raiders have yet to make the signing official, as is the case with many reported moves around the league under this year's unusual circumstances. That's also true of the deal that Barber reportedly got with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, March 24.
Wide receiver Breshad Perriman reportedly signed with the New York Jets on that same Tuesday. Perriman had his best NFL season with Tampa Bay in 2019, finishing the year with his first three 100-yard receiving games.
Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents*
• OLB Sam Acho
• T Demar Dotson
• T Jerald Hawkins
• G Mike Liedtke*
• S Darian Stewart
• S Orion Stewart*
• G Earl Watford
• T Josh Wells
• QB Jameis Winston
(* Liedtke and Orion Stewart both could have become exclusive rights free agents if they had been extended tender offers from the time. Since they did not, they are essentially in the same position as those officially labeled unrestricted free agents, in that they are free to sign with any team.)
Obviously, Winston will be seeking a new NFL home after five years as the Buccaneers starter, since Brady is now assuming that role. Dotson is the only other player remaining on that list who was a starter in 2019.
When the Buccaneers placed their franchise tag on Barrett it meant that every other player on their list of potential unrestricted free agents could hit the market if they wanted to do so. Fortunately, both the Buccaneers and edge-rushing star Pierre-Paul were motivated to stay together. Pierre-Paul skipped free agency and signed a multi-year deal with the Buccaneers on the day before the start of free agency. The deal was a confirmation of Bruce Arians' repeated claims that keeping the team's rising defense as intact as possible was a priority for the team. That pursuit got even better in the second week of free agency when the Buccaneers also managed to retain Suh, the third major piece of their front seven whose contract expired in 2020.
The Buccaneers also re-signed the one player on their list of restricted free agents, Auclair, and brought back Bryant Mitchell, who could have been an exclusive rights free agent. In both cases, the team skipped the tender-offer part of the process and simply signed the players to new one-year deals. Auclair is likely to have a significant role in the 2020 offense as the team's best blocking tight end. Mitchell is still trying to get his foot in the NFL door after three good seasons in the Canadian Football League. He looked promising early in training camp a year ago but lost the 2019 season to an Achilles tendon tear in the preseason opener.
On Saturday, March 21, the Buccaneers also got a new deal done with Minter, who proved to be a good fit on both defense and special teams in 2019. Minter, who previously played under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles in Arizona, filled in nicely for a month when rookie inside linebacker Devin White was injured, and he also played more special teams snaps than any other player on the roster.
The re-signings continued into the second week of free agency, as both Adams and Nunez-Roches got one-year deals done on Tuesday. Adams has started 16 games for the Bucs over the past two seasons, including 11 last year, and has proved he can take on a variety of roles and help with various depth-chart shortcomings. This would be his third season with the team but the first time he actually spends a training camp in Tampa. Nunez-Roches played about 25% of the team's defensive snaps last year as part of a down lineman rotation that helped the Bucs lead the league in rush defense. The Bucs brought back another defender over the second weekend of free agency, though Smith, the fifth-year cornerback, has made his biggest contributions on special teams.
The team's first roster move of April was to re-sign Gabbert to once again compete for the team's primary backup spot at quarterback. Gabbert had the inside track on that job last year before an injury to his non-throwing shoulder in the preseason led to him landing on injured reserve. Gabbert has started games under Arians before, in Arizona, and is already familiar with the Bucs' offense.