Offseaosn Overview: Did the Bucs Do Enough to Take the Next Step?

Garcia

Franchise Player: None.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

• WR Mark Jones is coming off an ACL injury and could move on with the emergence of Micheal Spurlock.

• RB Michael Pittman and his six-year career with the Bucs could come to a close as he looks for more opportunity.

• TE Jerramy Stevens has lots of personal issues he still is trying to resolve but has been on his best behavior with the Bucs.

• LB Jeremiah Trotter is a spiritual leader who was inactive most of the season.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS

• DE Charles Bennett is a former seventh round pick in 2006 that played opposite Gaines Adams at Clemson on the defensive line. Adams was the Bucs’ No. 1 pick in ‘07.

• LS Andrew Economos is very accurate.

• WR Chad Lucas is a downfield threat who saw his first action following an injury to Maurice Stovall in 2007.

• S Donte Nicholson has enjoyed two stints with the Bucs as a special teams player.

• LT Donald Penn took over from injured starter Luke Petitgout and did an admirable job.

• WR Micheal Spurlock put his name in the history books with the first kickoff return for a touchdown in team history.

• FB Byron Storer is a backup fullback that did a good job when B.J. Askew was injured.

• DE Greg White was one of the biggest surprises. Former Arena League Defensive Player of the Year led the Bucs in sacks.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

• DE Marques Douglas: UFA 49ers; 4 yrs, terms unknown.

• RB Warrick Dunn: FA Falcons; $6M/2 yrs, $2M guaranteed.

• C Jeff Faine: UFA Saints; $34.5M/6 yrs, $15M guaranteed.

• TE John Gilmore: UFA Bears; terms unknown.

• QB Brian Griese (trade Bears).

• LB Leon Joe: UFA Bills; terms unknown.

• LB Teddy Lehman: UFA Lions; terms unknown.

• LB Matt McCoy: Not tendered as RFA by Saints; terms unknown.

• TE Ben Troupe: UFA Titans; terms unknown.

• DE Jimmy Wilkerson: UFA Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

• CB Eugene Wilson: UFA Patriots; $1.8M/1 yr, $500,000 guaranteed.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

• RB Michael Bennett: Potential UFA; $3.75M/3 yrs, $750,000 SB; 2008 cap: $1M.

• DE/DT Kevin Carter: FA, had been released by Buccaneers; terms unknown.

• LB Antoine Cash: Not tendered as RFA by Buccaneers; terms unknown.

• CB Sammy Davis: UFA; terms unknown.

• DT Jovan Haye: RFA; tendered at $2.017M; terms unknown.

• WR Paris Warren: ERFA; terms unknown.

PLAYERS LOST

• FB Mike Alstott (UFA; retired).

• TE Anthony Becht: UFA Rams; terms unknown.

• CB Brian Kelly: UFA Lions; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

• C Matt Lehr: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.

• SS Kalvin Pearson: RFA Lions; $3.5M/3 yrs, $1.1M SB (Buccaneers elected not to match and receive no compensation).

• DE Greg Spires (released).

• C John Wade: UFA Raiders; terms unknown.

Last season the Buccaneers came from the bottom of the NFC South to win the division with a 9-7 season. They fell in the wild card round to the Giants at home, and the team is hoping this season that they can repeat as South champs and take the next step. That won’t be easy, as the division should improve, and questions remain if the Bucs can continue take steps on offense to get better, and get more production on defense. The team wanted a game-breaking wide out in the draft, but went with CB Aquib Talib in round one and then in round two picked Dexter Jackson as a wide out that can hopefully make things happen. Problem is, Jackson is a better kick returner than a wide out.

The team also signed three LB’s in free agency – Leon Joe, Teddy Lehman and Matt McCoy. They also gave DE Marques Douglas a four-year deal, and brought back Warrick Dunn to help the RB spot. Their biggest free agent signing though was center Jeff Faine, who comes from rival New Orleans for six years at $34.5 million. The questions remain for the Bucs – can Jeff Garcia repeat his solid 07 season? Will Earnest Graham be “the man” at the RB spot? Who will step up at WR? This is a solid team, good, but not great. We’ll see if they have enough to be in the top five again in the NFC in 08.

Offseason Grade to Date: C+


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