Yardbarker Horiz

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Possible free agent CB targets for Buccaneers

Why wait until the draft?

The first major milestone of the offseason will be when teams declare if they will use their franchise tag on February 20th.  Many of the top free agent players will be unable to negotiate with other teams because they will receive the franchise tag.

The top identified need for the Buccaneers this offseason (both by myself and within One Buccaneer Place) is cornerback.  There is a long list of potential free agent corners, but if we follow the philosophy of Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik, we are looking for a young player to grow with the rest of the youth on the Tampa Bay Roster.  I limited myself to the Top 20 available corners and ignored any player more than 27 years old.  This created a list of 8 prospects which I would consider the highest value targets fot the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

A solid, young corner is a valuable prospect in the NFL, so don't expect the current teams of these players to just let them walk.  In fact, the franchise tag could eliminate any of them.  What are the chances of one of them being franchised?  It depends on the other free agents on their team.

To analyse this I have listed each of the eight potential candidates and the other free agents (unrestricted unless noted by RFA) on their teams.  If these teams can't reach agreements with certain free agents they may use a franchise tag to avoid losing a solid performer. Each team gets one franchise tag, so will they use it on these young corners?  Let's check it out from youngest to oldest.

CB Lardarius Webb, Age 25, Ravens
Other free agents for the Ravens include RB Ray Rice, G Ben Grubbs, C Scott Birks, C Andre Gurode, DE Cory Redding, OLB Jarret Johnson, and ILB Jameel McClain.  Certainly Rice is worth a franchise tag.  Birks and Gurode are also starters up front.
CB Brandon Carr, Age 26, Chiefs
Other Chiefs free agents include QB Kyle Orton, RB Jackie Battle, RB Thomas Jones, RB LeRon McClain, WR Dwayne Bowe, TE Leonard Pope, and C Casey Wiegmann.  Bowe is the likely franchise tag recipient here unless the Chiefs can get an agreement in place.
CB Tracy Porter, Age 26, Saints
Other free agents for New Orleans include QB Drew Brees, QB Chase Daniel (RFA), WR Marques Colston, WR Robert Meacham, and G Carl Nicks.  Not only do the Saints have a lot of talented free agents this offseason, the Buccaneers can damage a division foe if they snare Porter.

CB William Middleton, Age 26, Jaguars
Free agents on the Jaguars this offseason include TE Zach Potter, DE Jeremy Mincey, OLB Matt Roth,     OLB Russell Allen (RFA), and FS Dwight Lowery.  The Jaguars had a rough season and are a team undergoing a serious rebuilding.  Keeping young talent is rule #1 for them this offseason, so it would not surprise me if Middleton gets the franchise tag.
CB Richard Marshall, Age 27, Cardinals
The Cardinals also have free agents OT Brandon Keith and DE Calais Campbell.  Campbell is widely considered to be the top DE prospect among the 2012 free agent crop.  If the Cardinals can get him under contact, Marshall is likely to get the franchise tag.
CB Terrell Thomas, Age 27, Giants
Other Giants free agents include WR Mario Manningham, OT Kareem McKenzie, G Stacy Andrews, ILB Chase Blackburn, and S Deon Grant.  As good as Manningham is, the Giants have a great defense in place and may use their franchise tag to hold onto the youngster Thomas.

CB William Gay, Age 27, Steelers
Steelers free agents include QB Dennis Dixon, QB Charlie Batch, QB Byron Leftwich, RB Mewelde Moore, WR Mike Wallace (RFA), WR Jerricho Cotchery, OT Max Starks, and G Ramon Foster (RFA).  The Steelers have significant cap issues to deal with before next year; they may not even use their franchise tag to avoid the costs which go with it.
CB Corey Graham, Age 27, Bears
Free agents on the Bears this offseason include QB Josh McCown, RB Matt Forte, RB Kahlil Bell, TE Kellen Davis, DE Israel Idonije, and DT Amobi Okoye.  Forte is a franchise candidate here; after that it could be Graham.

Looking at these lists, it appears the players the Buccaneers will most likely get a shot to bid for are Webb, Carr, Porter, and Gay.  Any of these young players would be a fantastic addition to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backfield.


  1. You don't really think the Ravens are going to let Ray Rice go into the free agency market do you? That is one guy I would sign and as soon as possible too...

    1. I agree, Rice will either be signed to a new deal by Feb 20th or he will get the franchise tag. I'll be shocked if it goes any other way

  2. This all makes perfect sence. So why won't they pursue any of these CB's. Because the philosophy in Tampa has been and will continue to be - "get them on the cheap" and "try to develop them on team". The problem: finding a viable CB that doesn't produce more garbage than his worth is rare (See Talib) and you either hit or really miss with this option. Other than Barber some 15 years ago, show me where they hit on a good CB that they could develop on the team coming out of the draft and getting them young. The Bucs have been in the cellar since the SB year which Gruden took Dungy's team and won the SB with. Fans are getting tired of loosing, players are getting tired of loosing and paper mache wins are getting old. It's time for new management and a new philosphy, Bucs tried to model themselves after the Patriots - but their plan right now - is not working for them either. Lately, they can't get the big win and their team is too young right now in certain areas, and too old in others. This combination doesn't win SB's!

    1. I'm not sure I entirely agree -- resigning Donald Penn was over $60 million; signing Gerald McCoy was over $40 million; and they gave Kellen Winslow the most lucrative contact for a TE in NFL History.

      Spending "all you can" has nothing to do with success in the NFL; it is a myth perpetuated by the media in the Bay. Please check out my analysis:
      (Post a comment if you disagree with my analysis, please!)

      The Buccaneers have to keep enough "in reserve" to sign the young players drafted since 2009 starting in 2013. If they are worth it, it will be expensive. We can spend some this season, but Dominik has to be careful not to mortgage the future.


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