Free agent signing day is almost as exciting as game day, and the fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos came away very excited. When it was all over, the Broncos and Buccaneers were the top free agent signing teams.
The Buccaneers surprised a lot of people with the players they aquired, and are now poised to make a splash in the NFC South. Tampa clearly looked the best in their division and filled some much needed slots.
The big headline going into free agent signing day was Darrelle Revis being traded or released by the Bucs. I wrote an article a few weeks ago discussing if Revis would return to his former self and be a top shutdown corner. Apparently the Bucs new front office did not care to find out, and wanted to use that money to sign players they needed. At the end of the day, it was a smart call by the Buccaneers executives.
My article last week talked about positions the team needed to address and which free agents to go after. The five positions the Bucs needed to fill were defensive line, offensive line, tight end, wide receiver, and quarterback. Tampa nailed all but one of those.
First up the huge signing of defensive end, Michael Johnson, to help the defensive line get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Johnson had 11.5 sacks in 2012 as well as 52 combined tackles and an interception. In 2013, Johnson only accumulated 3.5 sacks, due in part to injury of teammate Geno Atkins which caused Johnson to see more double team blocks, but managed to still rack up 56 combined tackles and one interception. Johnson is a great sign and should be a contributing factor in defensive stops for the Bucs in 2014.
The other huge newcomer for the Buccaneers was corner Alterraun Verner, who will replace the departed Revis in the secondary. Verner is a four-year pro that played previously for the Tennessee Titans, and was a huge impact player there. In his rookie season, Verner racked up 101 co statistically, except for his career high five interceptions in 2013. The cheaper signing of a younger Verner has most Bucs fans saying “Revis who?”
On the offensive side, the Bucs had three big additions in Josh McGown, Anthony Collins and Brandon Myers. The Bucs were not in extreme need of a signal-caller with Mike Glennon having a solid rookie season However, with new head coach Lovie Smith and McCown having Chicago Bear ties, it makes sense.
McCown was successful in 2013 when Jay Cutler went down with an injury. So successful in fact that many Chicago fans wanted McCown to be the starting QB even when Cutler was healthy again. The addition of McCown will be nice for the Bucs who gain a seasoned QB who maybe can teach Glennon a few things.
Anthony Collins adds help to the Tampa Bay offensive line which can help McCown and Glennon have more time to get a play off. The signing of Brandon Myers also gives the Tampa quarterbacks another target to throw to, even though Myers is not considered a top tight end. Myers has been very quiet over the past few years, and did not contribute much to his former team, the New York Giants. He has a new beginning in Tampa with a new system to play in, so there is new hope that maybe Myers can be a breakout tight end.
The Bucs were winners on free agent signing day, and have filled most of the spots on the team that needed filling. Now going into the draft with a top ten pick, the Bucs could be a strong force in the NFC South. Could this be the year for the Bucs to make a run to the playoffs? Can Tampa end the playoff drought? The talent is there, now it is all up to execution by the new players and the rest of the team.