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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers 2024 Free Agency Tracker: Month Two

The addition of edge rusher Randy Gregory keeps the Bucs' free agency efforts cooking into April…We'll track all of the Bucs' arrivals and departures throughout the spring


The 2024 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are like the student who got his hands on the course syllabus during the summer and showed up for the first day of class with half of the semester's work already done. The NFL's free agency period began on Wednesday, March 13, but the Buccaneers' efforts to build their 2024 roster started well before that.

Still, there will be plenty more maneuvering in Tampa and the NFL's 31 other outposts as each team constructs the 90-man roster it will take into training camp in the summer. For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers will be operating under tight cap restrictions – particularly after the series of new deals it struck with returning players over the past two weeks – though perhaps not quite as tight as it was in 2023.

Notably, the Buccaneers have already retained such potential free agents as Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield, Antoine Winfield Jr., Lavonte David and Chase McLaughlin. General Manager Jason Licht, with the help of such key staffers as Assistant General Manager Mike Greenberg and Vice President of Football Research Jackie Davidson, had reason to celebrate in the early hours of free agency but will continue to shape the roster throughout the offseason.

"Well, you have great people working for you in the experts of Mike and Jackie," said Licht of navigating free agency and the salary cap. "It's a puzzle. We have some constraints – there is the cap and all of those things. We've been planning on this for a while. It isn't something that you wake up and decide to do. It's the plan that you have. It's something that, luckily, we have great people working in this organization that are helping us through it.

"I'm a confident person in general, so I'm confident that we're going to be putting our best foot forward," said Licht. "We will have more pieces. I can assure you that."

What will those pieces be? We'll follow all of the comings and goings on the Bucs' roster over the next few months with our 2024 Free Agency Tracker, of which this is the version updated at the end of the first week of April. Here's where the team stands at the very beginning of the new league year:

New Arrivals

A year ago, Licht challenged his personnel staff to show off their skills in finding the necessary talent to keep the Bucs in playoff contention despite very little wiggle room under the cap. That was a challenge they happily embraced and impressively met. The Buccaneers found a new starting quarterback in Baker Mayfield, an ultra-reliable kicker in Chase McLaughlin and a number of other critical assets in free agency, the draft and post-draft rookie signings. Tampa Bay won its third straight NFC South title and advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Licht and his staff will have to pull off a similar trick in 2024, and its likely their shopping in the free agent market will be limited but focused. The first outside player the Bucs landed was former New York Jets safety Jordan Whitehead, who, of course, is also a former Buccaneer. A fourth-round draft pick out of Pitt in 2018, Whitehead played his first four seasons in Tampa and was a starter on the Super Bowl LV-winning squad before landing a nice two-year deal in New York in his first foray into free agency. Whitehead returns to his NFL origins after two productive seasons with the Jets in which he started all 34 games and racked up 186 tackles and six interceptions. He should stabilize the other safety position beside All-Pro Antoine Winfield Jr., as the Bucs spread those snaps around between four different players last season.

The Bucs went on a mini-shopping spree late in the first week of free agency by agreeing to deals with cornerback Bryce Hall and offensive linemen Ben Bredeson and Sua Opeta. Hall played four seasons with the Jets and started 26 games and could be in the mix to replace Carlton Davis in the starting lineup. Bredeson and Opeta have logged 25 and 10 starts, respectively in the NFL and may factor into the competition to start at left guard. To begin the second week of free agency, the Bucs reeled in former Houston cornerback Tavierre Thomas, who has extensive NFL experience playing in the slot.

As free agency entered April and largely slowed down across the league, the Buccaneers made another move, this one to add to their edge rush rotation. On April 4, veteran outside linebacker Randy Gregory, who most recently played in the Super Bowl with the 49ers, signed a one-year deal to come to Tampa. A second-round draft pick in 2015, Gregory played five seasons for the Cowboys before signing with Denver in 2022. The Broncos traded him to the 49ers at midseason in 2023.

Franchise Tag

Teams often use the franchise tag as a way to extend the negotiating window for a new long-term deal with a highly-valued player, and that's surely the ultimate goal here. Either way, the tag makes it all but certain that Winfield will play the 2024 season in Tampa, as a team trying to sign Winfield away would have to cough up two first-round draft picks to have a shot.

Winfield may have been the best safety in the NFL in 2023; his first-team Associated Press All-Pro status indicates that voters thought he was at least one of the top two. He certainly provided the most impressively stuffed stat line for just about any NFL defender, combining 122 tackles with 6.0 sacks, three interceptions, 12 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. In just four seasons, Winfield has already nabbed a Super Bowl ring, a Pro Bowl appearance and an All-Pro selection, and the Buccaneers believe his arrow is still pointed up.

The last time the Bucs utilized the franchise tag it was on wide receiver Chris Godwin in 2022, and the two sides then got a long-term deal done just a week later.

Re-Signed Players

It wasn't hard to determine the Bucs' top priorities when it came to their own list of potential unrestricted free agents, and somehow they successfully addressed them all before they hit the market. Evans was the first domino to fall, as he inked a new two-year deal that should help him remain a Buccaneer for life.

"Mike's obviously an extraordinary player," said Licht. "He and his wife, Ashli, and family are extraordinary people. [They] have done unprecedented things in the community, as well as Mike on the field. He means so much to this community, fanbase, organization, [and] to me, personally, my family. He's a role model to a lot of kids and our kids as well. The moment that we found out that Mike wanted to be a [Buccaneer] for life was something I'll never forget."

Evans is coming off his record 10th straight 1,000-yard receiving season in his first decade in the NFL. He earned his fifth Pro Bowl invitation and had his best output since 2018, grabbing 79 receptions for 1,255 yards and tying for the league lead with 13 touchdown catches. Evans' career totals now stand at 762 catches, 11,680 yards and 95 total touchdowns (94 receiving, one fumble recovery) and he has risen to 13th place on the NFL's all-time TD reception list. He now seems destined to become the first offensive player who played all or the majority of his career with the Buccaneers to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Both Evans and Mayfield had expressed a desire to continue playing together after quickly developed a strong chemistry in 2023, and they got their wish when the quarterback landed a new three-year deal to stay in Tampa. Mayfield rejuvenated his career in Tampa, placing third in the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year voting, and ended it with his first Pro Bowl appearance. He set career highs with 4,044 passing yards and 28 touchdown passes and was intercepted just 10 times.

Like Evans, David has an excellent chance at spending his entire career in a Buccaneers uniform after he agreed to a new one-year deal for the second offseason in a row. David showed no signs of slowing down in his 12th NFL season, leading the team with 134 tackles and adding 4.5 sacks and a team-high 17 tackles for loss. David had his highest tackle total since 2015 and his highest sack total since 2016. He was also named a team captain for the 10th year in a row.

After bringing in McLaughlin on a one-year deal in 2023, the Buccaneers were highly motivated to lock him down for the foreseeable future after he produced the best season by a kicker in franchise history. McLaughlin signed back up on a three-year pact and will now be able to start consecutive seasons with the same team for the first time in his career. Last season, he made 29 of his 31 field goal tries in the regular season, with his only two misses on blocked kicks, and all 33 of his extra points attempts. He set new single-season Buccaneer records for field goal percentage (93.5%) and successful attempts from 50-plus yards (seven).

The Bucs also re-signed two of the players they picked up in their limited free agency run last year, giving new one-year deals to Gaines and Edmonds. Gaines played 42% of the Bucs' defensive snaps last year and his return keeps the team's four-man rotation up front intact. Edmonds emerged as the primary backup to starting back Rachaad White and contributed 257 yards from scrimmage.

Thompkins and Walton could have become exclusive rights free agents had the Bucs tendered the necessary qualifying offers before free agency. However, the Bucs skipped that process and just re-signed both to one-year deals before the start of the new league year. Thompkins handled all of the Bucs' punt and kickoff return duties in 2013 and had 17 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown on offense. Walton served as a reserve tackle but was only active for four games as the Bucs' starting line mostly avoided injuries.

The Buccaneers continued to whittle down their own list of free agents late in Week One, getting new deals done with quarterback John Wolford and tackle Justin Skule. Wolford spent the 2023 as the Bucs' third quarterback behind Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask, and he is familiar with the offense being imported by new coordinator Liam Coen. Skule wasn't called into action much in 2023 as the team's swing tackle but he has starting experience in the NFL. At the end of Week Two of free agency, the Buccaneers also re-signed long-snapper Zach Triner. Triner has been the Buccaneers' long-snapper for the past five seasons, other than an eight-game stint on injured reserve in 2021 due to a fractured finger.

Players Released, Traded and/or Signed by Other Teams

Two weeks before free agency, the Buccaneers informed Barrett of their intention to release him once the new league year started and gave him permission to speak with other teams. He reportedly will sign with the Miami Dolphins after his release is made official. Barrett played five seasons in Tampa and ranks as one of the best free agent signings in franchise history. His 19.5 sacks in 2019 shattered the Bucs' single-season record and made him the first Tampa Bay player ever to lead the NFL in that category. His 45.0 sacks as a Buccaneer rank fifth in team annals.

The Buccaneers also agreed on a trade with the Detroit Lions that was officially executed when the new league year began. The deal sent Davis, the seventh-year veteran cornerback, to Detroit along with a pair of sixth-round picks in exchange for the Lions' third-round pick, number 92 overall. Originally a second-round pick in 2018, Davis played in 76 games as a Buccaneer with 75 starts and recorded 324 tackles, nine interceptions, 73 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Last year he started 12 games, missing five due to injury, and had 52 tackles and two picks.

White found a new NFL home after five seasons in Tampa, signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. He started 75 games for the Buccaneers and recorded 566 tackles and 23 sacks. Stinnie took over as the Bucs' starting left tackle after six games last season and opened the last 13 games, playoffs included. Leverett didn't see much action for the Bucs in 2023 because the starting offensive line stayed healthy, but he did start 10 games at right guard in 2022.

In the second week of free agency, the Bucs saw wide receiver David Moore leave for the Panthers, where he reunites with Head Coach Dave Canales, who was Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator in 2023. Moore spent much of the 2023 season on Tampa Bay's practice squad but emerged as a productive fourth option at receiver late in the campaign. He snared eight catches for 171 yards, playoffs included, and had long catch-and-run scores in big wins over Green Bay and Philadelphia.

Remaining Unrestricted Free Agents

  • G Matt Feiler
  • WR Russell Gage
  • DL William Gholston
  • OLB Cam Gill
  • S Ryan Neal
  • DL Pat O'Connor

While the Bucs have clearly taken care of the most important business on their list of potential free agents, there are still some potential deals to be made with the remaining players on that list.

Feiler started the first six games of the 2023 season at left guard and could provide depth on the line or again compete for a starting spot.

Gholston, a steady hand on the Bucs' front for the past 11 years, has played in 169 games for Tampa Bay, the sixth most in franchise history and the most by a defensive lineman. Gill provided edge rush depth and is a strong special teams contributor. O'Connor has also been a special teams standout for the Bucs for many seasons. Neal spent much of his first season in Tampa as the primary complement to Winfield at safety and contributed 75 tackles.

Gage became an unrestricted free agent when the Buccaneers declined to pick up the 2024 option year on his contract. He missed all of last season after suffering an ACL tear in practice during training camp.

Remaining Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Restricted free agents are players with three years of accrued free agency credit and an expiring contract. They become RFAs if their team extends the necessary tender offer to the start of the free agency, and then they may negotiate with other teams while their original team has an opportunity to match any deal they get. The Bucs had two players who could have been in that category in cornerback Dee Delaney and guard Nick Leverett but elected not to extend the tender offers, in effect making them unrestricted free agents.

Remaining Exclusive Rights Free Agents

  • None

Exclusive rights free agents are players with expiring contracts and two or fewer seasons of accrued free agency credit. If they get the qualifying offer to make them ERFAs before free agency begins they can only re-sign with their current team. As noted above, wide receiver Deven Thompkins and tackle Brandon Walton could have started free agency in that category but the Bucs skipped the process and just signed them to new one-year deals.

Non-Tendered Free Agents

  • CB Dee Delaney

Players who could have become restricted or exclusive rights free agents become equivalent to unrestricted free agents if they do not receive a qualifying offer from their respective teams. As noted, that is the case for Delaney. Delaney has spent three seasons in Tampa as a versatile piece in the secondary, seeing time at outside corner, slot corner and safety. He handled 449 defensive snaps in 2023 and contributed 24 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defensed.

View the top pictures of Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield from his career with Tampa Bay thus far!

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