5 Free Agents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Should Bring in for Training Camp
Well, honey, the free-agent-well is pretty much dry.
The guys who are left are injury-ridden, ancient or ticking time bombs just waiting to blow up in a fiery explosion of poor character decisions.
But still, there are a few men that the Bucs should check out for the sake of curiosity if for nothing else. The veterans may not be able to completely fill the team's positional needs, but they can still add some depth and leadership to the young players.
Besides, what harm could it do to bring these players into training camp to compete for a roster spot?
Allowing them to tryout with the team is not commitment.
So let's invite them over, and let them show us what they got.
Andre Carter, DE
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The Buccaneers need help on the defensive line.
Sophomore DE Da'Quan Bowers suffered an Achilles tear in the middle of the offseason, and free-agent signee Amobi Okoye, DT, went under the knife for knee surgery.
I'm pretty sure that Greg Schiano has "HELP WANTED" signs posted all over One Buc Place.
So we turn to Andre Carter—the 12th year man out of the University of California.
In his fourteen games with the Patriots, he recorded 10 sacks, two forced fumbles and 32 solo tackles. For all the flack that the Patriot defense received last season, those are some pretty sweet numbers.
Unfortunately for Carter, he had to end the 2011 season early with a torn quad muscle. Because of the uncertainty surrounding his recovery, the unrestricted free agent has not received any contract offers yet this offseason.
I say that the Bucs should swoop in now to add a veteran presence to a D-line that is set to start only one man over the age of 26 (Adrian Clayborn is 24, Brian Price is 23, Gerald McCoy is 24 and Michael Bennett is 26).
If the team waits for Carter to recover before trying to sign him, the Bucs will likely lose out to the Patriots—who have a leg-up in re-signing the vet, as Carter awaits a longterm deal from New England..
Even if the Bucs sign him and he can't play in 2012, Tampa Bay can still move Carter to the injured reserve.
Really, what is there to lose?
Matt Roth, DE
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More defensive end help for the Bucs.
Matt Roth is a versatile defensive weapon who can play both defensive end and outside linebacker. He's a great guy to have on the field because of his intelligence and three-down capabilities. Plug him into any system and he'll make an impact.
Roth had a short season in 2011 because of concussions, but is just 29 years old. He has plenty of years left in the NFL, and plenty of talent to boot.
That assumption is wrong.
Waived after a groin injury, picked up on waivers, signed as a free agent, then allowed to walk because of concussions—Roth has only changed teams because of injuries that make him inconvenient to keep on the roster.
The Bucs should bring in Roth to see if he is healthy enough to play—and if he is, they should immediately sign him.
Earnest Graham, RB
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It puzzles me greatly that the Bucs have not yet re-signed Earnest Graham.
Before a Week 7 Achilles tear, Graham was quietly having a fantastic season in Tampa Bay—averaging 5.6 yards a rush, and catching 26 passes for 163 yards. He was a reliable third-down target for Josh Freeman, with eight receptions for first downs.
Sure, he's 32 years old—but from what we saw last year, Graham still has something left in the tank.
The running back corps—made up of rookies and under-25ers—could use a veteran presence.
Graham has been a fixture in the Buccaneer backfield for eight years, and—at the very least—the Bucs should respect him enough to let him compete for a roster spot.
Worst case scenario is that he doesn't make the roster.
Best case scenario is that he does.
Kareem McKenzie, T
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Kareem McKenzie just won a Super Bowl.
But that didn't stop the New York Giants from allowing him to walk.
The 33-year-old free agent oozes experience and has a nice track record for attendance. In 11 years, he's missed just seven starts.
That kind of consistency is just what the Bucs need in a backup right tackle. Current starter Jeremy Trueblood is on thin ice. His poor play in 2011 cost the Bucs quite a few yards in the run game and he also let far too many defenders pressure Freeman into making poor decisions.
The backup right tackle must be ready to step in and replace Trueblood at a moment's notice.
McKenzie is the kind of guy who can do that.
So let him compete.
Visanthe Shiancoe, TE
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I cannot stress it enough how much the Bucs need to add another veteran tight end to the roster.
Right now, the ancient Dallas Clark is really the only vet Tampa Bay has at tight end.
The position is undoubtedly one of the team's biggest holes. The starting spot will go either to sophomore Luke Stocker—who failed to distinguish himself as a receiver last season—or Clark, who had less than 350 receiving yards in 2011. For a pass-catching tight end, that is bad.
While Shianco might not be able to start above the current crop of tight ends, the 33-year-old would give the unit some depth. He has never missed a game in his career, and though he might have slowed down a bit, the former Viking still plays with intensity and passion.
If it wasn't for the emergence of Kyle Rudolph, Shianco would have managed far more than 409 receiving yards in Minnesota last season.
Let him at least compete in training camp, please.