Following an underwhelming 9-8 regular season that saw them thrive in the mediocrity of the NFC South, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter an offseason in which they will have to make important moves to be able to compete and have a shot at the playoffs in the 2024 season.
With an estimated $47 million salary cap according to overthecap.com, the Bucs have quite a sum to spend and could be planning on making a big move or two during the offseason. Nonetheless, they must decide who to re-sign and who to let go this offseason.
Let’s see which free agents are worth re-signing and which ones are not, and the reasons behind them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 3 Free Agents to Re-Sign, 3 to Let Go
Players to Re-Sign
Baker Mayfield, QB
Following the retirement of all-time great Tom Brady, the Bucs signed former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield on a one-year, $4 million contract as his replacement. The signing brought widespread criticism concerning his lack of performance on his former teams, as fans doubted he would be able to turn things around and start performing like he was supposed to when the Cleveland Browns took him as the first overall pick of the 2018 draft.
Nonetheless, Mayfield delivered: he posted career-high numbers in completions (364), completion percentage (64.3%), passing yards (4,044), and touchdowns (28), made the playoffs for the second time in his career (the first time was with the Browns in 2020), was named as a first alternate for the 2024 Pro Bowl, and was nominated for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award alongside fellow quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin. Although he is currently on just a $4 million salary, don’t be surprised if he asks for more; he has improved dramatically since his last few seasons, and the Buccaneers should match his salary demand and sign him on a multi-year deal. He deserves it.
Antoine Winfield Jr., FS
On the defensive side of the ball, safety Antoine Winfield was undoubtedly the best of the bunch. He recorded career-highs in tackles (122), sacks (6.0), passes defensed (12), interceptions (3), forced fumbles (6), and fumble recoveries (4), and was also named as a first alternate for the Pro Bowl. He’s currently on a four-year, $7 million contract with the Buccaneers, severely underpaid considering his performance this season. On top of that, he’s only 25 and could have at least 10 more years in the league before calling it a career. He could also receive a multi-year contract with a significant rise in salary.
Lavonte David, ILB
Although he had a more modest season than Mayfield and Winfield, linebacker Lavonte David‘s efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed: he posted a very respectable 134 tackles, 4.5 sacks, and five passes defensed. The main reason the Bucs should re-sign him is his low market value. He’s aging and is only on a $4.5 million salary this season. The Bucs should be able to re-sign him at a low cost.
Players to Let Go
Mike Evans, WR
This one stings. Wide receiver Mike Evans is already a Tampa Bay legend, having been named a second-team All-Pro twice, a Pro Bowler five times, and a crucial component of Tampa Bay’s 2020 Super Bowl-winning squad. But it’s important to not let our feelings get ahead of ourselves and to think rationally.
Evans is 30 and already past his prime, and his market value is simply too high for the on-field value he can give the Bucs in return. Not to mention that Tampa Bay’s wide receiver corps is filled with young guys who are hungry to perform and have shown what they’re capable of, most notably wideouts Chris Godwin and Trey Palmer. Also, his high market value will make it impossible for the Bucs to retain Mayfield, Winfield, and himself. Tampa Bay loves Evans, but the cons simply outweigh the pros, and it’s hard to imagine that the Bucs will match Evans’ salary demands.
Devin White, ILB
Linebacker Devin White had the worst season of his career this year. He had career-worst numbers in tackles (83) and sacks (2.5), not to mention that he played in only 14 of the team’s 17 regular-season games and was benched for both of Tampa Bay’s postseason matchups. On top of that, it’s clear that he no longer wishes to be on the team, as he requested a trade early in the season after he and the team failed to reach an agreement for a contract extension. All of these reasons, and his high salary demands, make it an easy choice for the Bucs to move on from White.
Chase Edmonds, RB
Running back Chase Edmonds was signed last offseason on a one-year, $1.2 million contract and has since served as Rachaad White‘s backup. And, if we’re being honest, White is much better than him and is two years younger. Edmonds has had decent seasons before, most notably his 2021 season with the Arizona Cardinals, but has since failed to record more than 200 rushing yards in a season, and has no chance of earning a starting gig on the Buccaneers with White in front of him. Also, the Bucs don’t really need him and could explore the market for backup running backs to sign. Parting ways seems like the smartest course of action for both parties, and we should expect them to do so.
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