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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2024 Mock Draft 6.0: Free Agency Shakeup

The first week of signings and trades in the new league year have impacted the needs and strategies of many teams in the draft, though the Buccaneers once again went for edge rush help


Free agency happens fast in the NFL. Technically, it lasts from the first day of the new league year somewhere in mid-March all the way into the summer. Practically speaking, most of the important work is done in less than a week.

This year was no different, as almost all the biggest names on the list of pending free agents were snapped up during the 52-hour "legal tampering" period before the actual opening bell of the market. And it was a wild if short ride, with the likes of Kirk Cousins, Christian Wilkins, Brian Burns and Danielle Hunter all quickly finding new homes and more robust bank accounts.

That eventful week also helped define the landscape for the next big event on the NFL calendar, the 2024 draft. Take the Falcons, for instance, who might have tried to get into the QB race at the top of the draft before choosing to go the expensive veteran route with Cousins. You won't see the Falcons getting a quarterback in too many mock drafts following that signing; in fact, Atlanta may now be a prime candidate to move down if a team that didn't find a Cousins-like option wants to trade up.

That's the theme of our sixth attempt at a first-round mock draft here on With each pick, we'll run down the team's recent arrivals and departures via both free agency and trades (of which there were plenty) and consider how that may have changed our thinking about their draft priorities. In some cases, the activity of the last week may have reinforced what we expected a team to do in the draft; in others, it might have changed our minds completely.

Here are links to our first five mock drafts, which began in February:

The arrivals and departures listed for each team below are free agency signings unless otherwise indicated. I also predicted three trades. They are:

  1. The Vikings trade with the Chargers, moving up six spots from 11 to five. Along with that 11th pick, they send the Chargers the 23rd overall pick, recently picked up in a trade with Houston, and a second-round pick in 2025. According to the Jimmy Johnson trade value chart, picks 11 and 23 are more than enough to warrant the fifth pick, but precedence on trades of this type, especially when there is likely competition from other teams wanting to move up for a quarterback, suggests the Vikings will have to overpay.
  1. The Jets trade with Atlanta to move up two spots, from 10th to eighth. The cost is a third-round pick, number 72 overall.
  1. San Francisco trades with the Chargers to move up from the 31st pick to number 23. The 49ers are holding a whopping 11 draft picks and, given the talent on their roster, might have a hard time fitting that many new players in. As such, it makes sense to use some of that capital to move around the board and target specific players. Here, they jump eight spots by packaging number 31 with one of their two third-rounders (#94) and one of their two fourth-rounders (#132).
  1. Chicago Bears (from Carolina): QB Caleb Williams, USC

Arrivals: RB D'Andre Swift, WR Keenan Allen (trade), TE Gerald Everett, S Kevin Byard, DE Jake Martin, WR Dante Pettis, T Ryan Bates (trade), S Jonathan Owens

Departures: QB Justin Fields (trade), WR Darnell Mooney

The trade of Fields to Pittsburgh (for pennies on the dollar) didn't change anything here but it did take the pick of Williams from a presumed likelihood to a near certainty. The only way Chicago doesn't take Williams is if it falls in love with another quarterback, like Drake Maye. Not only did the Bears move on from fields, but they made an effort to juice up the offensive personnel in preparation for the arrival of a new quarterback, signing Swift and Everett and trading for Allen.

  1. Washington Commanders: QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

Arrivals: DE Dorance Armstrong, S Jeremy Chinn, LB Frankie Luvu, QB Marcus Mariota, K Brandon McManus, C Tyler Biadasz, DE Dante Fowler, LB Bobby Wagner, TE Zach Ertz

Departures: QB Sam Howell (trade), QB Jacoby Brissett, WR Curtis Samuel, RB Antonio Gibson, S Kamren Curl

I know the tea leaves are all currently pointing toward Jayden Daniels being the pick here, but there is still a ways to go before the draft and I still believe Maye is going to take this spot back eventually. The Commanders also traded away their starting quarterback from last year, sending Howell to the Seahawks, but they also watched their veteran backup sign with the next team on this list. The only quarterback on the Commanders' current roster is Jake Fromm.

  1. New England Patriots: QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

Arrivals: QB Jacoby Brissett, G Nick Leverett, RB Antonio Gibson, TE Austin Hooper, T Chukwumah Okorafor

Departures: QB Mac Jones (trade), TE Mike Gesicki

Jones was dealt to Jacksonville and Brissett feels very much like a bridge quarterback for a team about to draft a passer who might need a little time to get up to speed. I'm back and forth on whether I actually think the Patriots are going to take a quarterback this year, but I was finally spurred in that direction by the thought that they may believe they won't have a chance to pick this high again anytime soon.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Arrivals: QB Desmond Ridder (trade), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, DT Bilal Nichols, T Jonah Williams

Departures: WR Rondale Moore (trade), WR Marquise Brown (trade), Zach Ertz (released), T D.J. Humphries (released)

This is surely the 8,000th mock draft to ship Harrison to the Cardinals at the fourth pick, and the first week of free agency only solidified that commitment. The Cardinals sent Moore to the Falcons in order to get Ridder, then dealt Brown to the receiver-needy Chiefs. Michael Wilson had a promising rookie season in the desert, but after him the depth chart is pretty bleak. The Cardinals are all-in with Kyler Murray as their franchise quarterback, and they get him the franchise receiver he needs.

  1. Minnesota Vikings (from Los Angeles Chargers): QB J.J. McCarthy

Arrivals: LB Blake Cashman, RB Aaron Jones, QB Sam Darnold, DE Jonathan Greenard, DE Andrew Van Ginkel

Departures: QB Kirk Cousins, DE Danielle Hunter, OLB D.J. Wonnum, LB Jordan Hicks, DE Marcus Davenport

Well, the Vikings either couldn't or wouldn't match the huge offer Cousins got from Atlanta, so they're moving on from the veteran's steady presence after six years. The Vikings did sign Darnold, so they have a plan in place if they can't nab a quarterback in this draft, but I suspect they see Darnold as a bridge or quality backup and still want to take a shot at a potential franchise quarterback. The Titans were also willing to move down from the seventh pick but the Vikings weren't sure they would get their man if they didn't go even higher.

  1. New York Giants: WR Malik Nabers

Arrivals: QB Drew Lock, RB Devin Singletary, T Jermaine Eluemunor, G Jon Runyan, G Aaron Stinnie

Departures: RB Saquon Barkley, DT A'Shawn Robinson, S Xavier McKinney, QB Tyrod Taylor

We've been pretty consistent in our mock drafts of giving the Giants a receiver, and nothing that happened in the first week of free agency changes that. New York got some potential new starters for the offensive line, so that makes receiver their clear number-one need. Nabers is an explosive playmaker and the Giants go with him over Rome Odunze by a hair.

  1. Tennessee Titans: T Joe Alt, Notre Dame

Arrivals: RB Tony Pollard, WR Calvin Ridley, QB Mason Rudolph, C Lloyd Cushenberry, LB Kenneth Murray

Departures: RB Derrick Henry, LB Azeez Al-Shaair, DT Denico Autry, C Aaron Brewer, S Kevin Byard (released), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, T Andre Dillard (released)

The Titans moved on from Dillard after one unfulfilling season and could use an upgrade at either tackle spot. Tennessee also lost its starting center but likely wouldn't hit that position in the top 10. And the signing of Ridley makes receiver a little bit less of a pressing issue, though Odunze is definitely tempting.

  1. New York Jets (from Atlanta): WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Arrivals: T Tyron Smith, T Morgan Moses, DT Javon Kinlaw, G John Simpson, QB Tyrod Taylor

Departures: DE Bryce Huff, S Jordan Whitehead

We've done five previous mock drafts and have paired the Jets with an offensive tackle in all five of them. However, now that New York has brought in Smith and Moses, they can have a little more fun with their top-10 pick. Eager to give Aaron Rodgers another big-time playmaker to go with Garrett Wilson, the Falcons move up two spots to nab Odunze.

  1. Chicago Bears: EDGE Dallas Turner, Alabama

Arrivals: RB D'Andre Swift, WR Keenan Allen (trade), TE Gerald Everett, S Kevin Byard, DE Jake Martin, WR Dante Pettis, T Ryan Bates (trade), S Jonathan Owens

Departures: QB Justin Fields (trade), WR Darnell Mooney

Brock Bowers is tempting for an offense that is suddenly starting to look very interesting, but given that the Bears gave Cole Kmet a big contract not long ago and have just signed Everett, that's probably a luxury in which they won't indulge. Instead, the Bears get the first pass-rusher off the board and add a bookend for last year's trade pick-up, Montez Sweat.

  1. Atlanta (from New York Jets): CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

Arrivals: QB Kirk Cousins, WR Rondale Moore (trade), WR Darnell Mooney

Departures: QB Desmond Ridder (trade), C Matt Hennessey, WR Mack Hollins, CB Jeff Okudah

Again, the Falcons are out of the quarterback race (for now) after signing Cousins, and they fleshed out their receiving corps with the additions of Moore and Mooney. That leaves defense as the priority here, and while edge rushers are always easy to pair with the Falcons, they did see Okudah leave and could use a corner to go with A.J. Terrell.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (from Minnesota): T Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

Arrivals: RB Gus Edwards, DT Poona Ford

Departures: WR Keenan Allen (trade), WR Mike Williams (released), TE Gerald Everett, LB Kenneth Murray

The Chargers moved down six spots and only missed out on one offensive tackle in a deep class of them, so the trade worked out great for them. They're set at left tackle with Rashawn Slater so Fuaga can stay at his college position of right tackle and step right into the starting lineup. Obviously, receiver is also a much bigger need for the Chargers than it was a week ago, but I still think the priority here for Jim Harbaugh is building up the trenches.

  1. Denver Broncos: WR Brian Thomas, LSU

Arrivals: S Brandon Jones

Departures: WR Jerry Jeudy (trade), C Lloyd Cushenberry, LB Josey Jewell

Bowers is tempting here, too, but the Broncos dealt away Jerry Jeudy and could make immediate use of a speedy big-playmaker like Thomas. Even after the Jeudy trade the Broncos have a relatively full receiver depth chart topped by Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, but Thomas would give the passing game a different dimension.

  1. Las Vegas Raiders: QB Michael Penix, Washington

Arrivals: DT Christian Wilkins, QB Gardner Minshew

Departures: RB Josh Jacobs, TE Austin Hooper, G Jermaine Eluemunor, CB Amik Robertson, DT Bilal Nichols, QB Jimmy Garoppolo (released), DT Jerry Tillery (released), WR Hunter Renfrow (released)

The Raiders signed quarterback Gardner Minshew, ostensibly to compete with or replace Aidan O'Connell as the starter but that's not quite the same thing as signing Kirk Cousins. The Raiders still want to find a long-term answer at the position and go for Penix, who has a live arm and a clean bill of health from the Combine.

  1. New Orleans Saints: T Amarius Mims, Georgia

Arrivals: LB Willie Gay, WR Stanley Morgan, WR Cedrick Wilson, QB Nathan Peterman

Departures: LB Zack Baun, QB Jameis Winston, WR Michael Thomas (released), S Marcus Maye (released)

The Saints have not been able to add much to their roster in free agency due to tight cap restrictions. Neither of their two receiver additions really moves the needle, so they could still go in that direction here. But they have not been able to address their offensive line, either, and the value is much higher at that position in this part of the draft. The Saints have done well in the past drafting very athletic linemen who might need a bit more development, and Mims falls into that category.

  1. Indianapolis Colts: CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

Arrivals: DT Raekwon Davis, QB Joe Flacco

Departures: QB Gardner Minshew, RB Zack Moss

It's been a relatively quiet week for the Colts, who swapped out Minshew for Flacco as the backup to second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson and found some help for their defensive front. Thus, we continue to like the pairing of the Colts with a cornerback, and Mitchell would be a steal if he fell to the 15th spot.

  1. Seattle Seahawks: TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

Arrivals: QB Sam Howell (trade), LB Tyrel Dodson, S Rayshawn Jenkins, LB Jerome Baker, T George Fant, C Nick Harris

Departures: LB Devin Bush, TE Colby Parkinson, T George Fant, QB Drew Lock, G Damien Lewis, LB Bobby Wagner, LB Jordyn Brooks, DT Shelby Harris (released)

The Seahawks plugged a lot of little holes on the depth chart in the first week of free agency, and they got Fant in case third-year tackle Abe Lucas struggles again as he did in 2023. They lost Parkinson in free agency, and even though he's more of a blocking tight end he did catch 25 passes in each of the last two seasons. The Seahawks do have Noah Fant, who had 32 catches last season, but Bowers is too good of a talent to pass on if he makes it this far down the round.

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars: EDGE Laiatu Latu, UCLA

Arrivals: QB Mac Jones (trade), DL Arik Armstead, WR Gabe Davis, WR Devin Duvernay, S Darnell Savage, C Mitch Morse

Departures: K Brandon McManus, WR Calvin Ridley, CB Darious Williams (released), S Rayshawn Jenkins (released), DT Foley Fatukasi (released), OLB K'Lavon Chaisson

Picking up Armstead after he couldn't get a deal done in San Francisco makes the interior line a little less of a pressing issue. The Jaguars let former first-round pick Chaisson walk after he didn't really pan out and could use another premium pass-rusher to line up opposite Josh Allen. They do have Travon Walker, who had 10 sacks in his second season, but they have moved Walker around to several different spots on the line. There would be plenty of work to go around for Allen, Walker and Latu.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals: T J.C. Latham, Alabama

Arrivals: S Vonn Bell, TE Mike Gesicki, S Geno Stone, CB Ronald Darby, RB Zack Moss, DT Sheldon Rankins

Departures: RB Joe Mixon (trade), DT D.J. Reader, TE Irv Smith, T Jonah Williams, QB A.J. McCarron (released)

The Bengals hit one of their most pressing needs with the dual additions of Stone and Bell and picked up Rankins to help ease the loss of Reader. However, Williams left in free agency, as expected, and the Bengals have an opening at right tackle. Latham could step right in.

  1. Los Angeles Rams: DT Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois

Arrivals: G Jonah Jackson, TE Colby Parkinson, CB Darious Williams, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, S Kamren Curl

Departures: S Jordan Fuller, DT Aaron Donald (retired)

You may have heard a little something about a certain Rams defender hanging up his cleats. Los Angeles almost surely won't be able to find someone to complete fill Donald's shoes, but they do have a sudden need at his position. They hit on DT Kobie Turner in the third round last year but could use a penetrating interior lineman in the (relative) mold of Donald, and that's how Newton profiles.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers: WR Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Arrivals: QB Russell Wilson, QB Justin Fields (trade), LB Patrick Queen, CB Donte Jackson

Departures: QB Kenny Pickett (trade), QB Mason Rudolph, T Chukwuma Okorafor (released), QB Mitch Trubisky (released), WR Diontae Johnson (trade)

Well, I don't think it's going to be quarterback. The Steelers totally overhauled that room and now have two potential starters in Wilson and Fields (though Wilson has been told the job is his). How about somebody to help out those quarterbacks? The Steelers traded Johnson to Carolina for Jackson, rearranging their list of top needs a little bit. Mitchell is a big target who is dynamic with the ball in his hands.

  1. Miami Dolphins: DT Byron Murphy, Texas

Arrivals: LB Anthony Walker, C Aaron Brewer, LB Jordyn Brooks, TE Jonnu Smith, OLB Shaquil Barrett, S Jordan Poyer

Departures: DT Christian Wilkins, S DeShon Elliott, DE Andrew Van Ginkel, DT Raekwon Davis, G Robert Hunt, S Brandon Jones, CB Xavien Howard (released), WR Cedrick Wilson

The early hours of free agency hit the Dolphins' roster hard, and perhaps the biggest loss was Wilkins, who signed with the Raiders. If Barrett can return to something close to his peak form with the Buccaneers, they should be alright on the edges. They need help on the inside instead and get it in Murphy, who gets off the ball quickly and can shoot gaps to provide pressure up the middle.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles: CB Cooper DeJean, Iowa

Arrivals: QB Kenny Pickett (trade), DE Bryce Huff, RB Saquon Barkley, LB Zack Baun, LB Devin White, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson, C Matt Hennessey

Departures: C Jason Kelce (retired), DT Fletcher Cox (retired), RB D'Andre Swift, QB Marcus Mariota, LB Nicholas Morrow

The Eagles have a plan in place to replace Kelce, while Huff can take Cox's spot in the rotation. The Eagles also tried to shore up their troubled linebacker spot with Baun and White. But Philly didn't make any additions at cornerback, so we continue to see that as a top need. DeJean is a versatile defensive back who the Eagles could employ in multiple spots.

  1. San Francisco 49ers (from Cleveland through Houston, Minnesota and L.A. Chargers): DE Chop Robinson, Penn State

Arrivals: DT Jordan Elliott, DE Yetur Gross-Matos, LB De'Vondre Campbell

Departures: QB Sam Darnold, DT Javon Kinlaw

As noted above, the 49ers throw some of their draft capital into the mix to move up and get the type of player they always seem to target in the first round: a pass-rusher who gets off the ball with lightning speed. I don't think the free agency addition of Gross-Matos would move the 49ers off this pick.

  1. Dallas Cowboys: C Jackson Powers-Johnson, Oregon

Arrivals: LB Eric Kendricks

Departures: T Tyron Smith, RB Tony Pollard, DE Dorance Armstrong, C Tyler Biadasz, DE Dante Fowler, LB Leighton Vander Esch (released/retired), WR Michael Gallup (released)

This is a straight one-for-one replacement, as the Cowboys' incumbent starter at the pivot, Biadasz, left for division-rival Washington. Dallas also lost left tackle Tyron Smith, but they originally drafted Tyler Smith to play tackle before he was moved to guard. Powers-Johnson is a road-grader who would probably be in the starting lineup by Week One.

  1. Green Bay Packers: G Graham Barton, Duke

Arrivals: RB Josh Jacobs, S Xavier McKinney

Departures: RB Aaron Jones (released), S Jonathan Owens, T David Bakhtiari (released), S Darnell Savage, G Jon Runyan, LB De'Vondre Campbell (released)

It's a similar story here, where Jon Runyan got a nice deal with the Giants, opening up a spot on the Packers' offensive line. Barton played tackle at Duke but is widely projected as a guard on the NFL level, and he would replace Runyan in short order.

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: EDGE Jared Verse, Florida State

Arrivals: S Jordan Whitehead, CB Bryce Hall, OL Ben Bredeson, G Sua Opeta

Departures: CB Carlton Davis (trade), OLB Shaquil Barrett (released) G Nick Leverett, LB Devin White, G Aaron Stinnie, WR Russell Gage (declined option year)

Admittedly, Verse seems to come off the board higher than this in most of the mock drafts I've seen, but this is how it fell for me this time. The Bucs have been widely connected to the cornerback and interior offensive line spots, especially after the Davis trade and the departures of Stinnie and Leverett in free agency. However, their mid-level signings of Hall, Thomas, Bredeson and Opeta give them some options to start with at those spots. The Bucs have not added any edge-rushing help in free agency – it's not easy to find, of course – and have an opening in their rotation after the release of Barrett. If not Verse, I could see the Bucs going with Mizzou's Darius Robinson.

  1. Arizona Cardinals (from Houston): CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

Arrivals: QB Desmond Ridder (trade), CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, DT Bilal Nichols, T Jonah Williams

Departures: WR Rondale Moore (trade), WR Marquise Brown (trade), Zach Ertz (released), T D.J. Humphries (released)

Would the Cardinals be tempted to take another receiver in the first round even after nabbing Harrison at number four? It wouldn't shock me. But the Cardinals' need at cornerback is deep enough to still make it a target even after the addition of Murphy-Bunting. The addition of Williams makes up for the release of Humphries, so I think the Cardinals go defense with this pick.

  1. Buffalo Bills: CB Kool-Aid McKinstry

Arrivals: WR Curtis Samuel, WR Mack Hollins, LB Nicholas Morrow, QB Mitch Trubisky

Departures: T Ryan Bates (trade), DT Poona Ford, CB Dane Jackson, LB Tyrel Dodson, WR Gabe Davis, C Mitch Morse (released), CB Tre'Davious White (released), S Jordan Poyer (released)

The Bills released White and watched Jackson sign with the Panthers, and they made a couple of depth signings at receiver, so I think cornerback has shot to the top of Buffalo's list. McKinstry is tall and a willing tackler and he's most effective in press coverage.

  1. Detroit Lions: EDGE Darius Robinson, Missouri

Arrivals: CB Carlton Davis (trade), DT D.J. Reader, DE Marcus Davenport, CB Amik Robertson

Departures: G Jonah Jackson, S C.J. Gardner-Johnson

The Lions hit the cornerback position hard for the second straight offseason, trading for Davis and making a nice value signing in Robertson. I think that takes them off the market at that position in the first round. However, I don't think the signing of Davenport does the seem thing at edge rusher. Davenport has had trouble staying healthy and has just 2.5 sacks over the past two seasons. After signing Reader for the interior line, the Lions could have something special going on up front if they get a complementary pass rusher to Aidan Hutchinson.

  1. Baltimore Ravens: WR Keon Coleman, Florida State

Arrivals: RB Derrick Henry

Departures: T Morgan Moses (trade), LB Patrick Queen, RB Gus Edwards, S Geno Stone, QB Tyler Huntley, CB Ronald Darby, WR Devin Duvernay, G John Simpson, WR Odell Beckham (released)

Beckham was released, as expected, and Duvernay went to Jacksonville. Zay Flowers had a really nice rookie season but it might be past time expecting Rashod Bateman to emerge as a big-time pass-catcher. Coleman would help Lamar Jackson work the middle of the field and keep the chains moving.

  1. Los Angeles Chargers (from San Francisco): WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

Arrivals: RB Gus Edwards, DT Poona Ford

Departures: WR Keenan Allen (trade), WR Mike Williams (released), TE Gerald Everett, LB Kenneth Murray

The Chargers were forced into some tough decisions before the start of free agency to get in compliance with the salary cap. Allen wouldn't take a pay cut and was traded to the Bears, while Williams was just outright released. The Chargers drafted Quintin Johnston in the first round a year ago but he had a low-wattage rookie season even with the offense dealing with a rash of injuries at receiver. Worthy gives the Chargers something their receiving corps has been lacking even when everyone is healthy – speed. Worthy set the all-time 40-yard dash record at the Combine.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs: CB Kamari Lassiter, Georgia

Arrivals: TE Irv Smith, WR Marquise Brown (trade)

Departures: LB Willie Gay (released)

The trade for Brown makes it easier to pass on receiver at this spot, even if the Chiefs may eventually seek some more depth in later rounds. The Chiefs have retained star cornerback L'Jarius Sneed with the franchise tag, for now at least, but there are persistent rumors Sneed is being shopped around. I think there might be fire with this smoke, and so I have the Chiefs reloading at the position with Lassiter.

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