Buccaneers Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors & Grades

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterMarch 12, 2013

Buccaneers Free-Agency Tracker: Updated Signings, Rumors & Grades

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    It’s not quite practicing all week with games on Sunday, but when the NFL calendar resets at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and free agency begins, there will be a flurry of NFL activity.

    With just over $27.9 million in salary cap space after signing Dashon Goldson and Jonathan Casillas, according to Spotrac.com, the Buccaneers have the cash to make a huge impact on their roster via free agency.

    And Tampa Bay has to improve its roster and show its fanbase it can take steps forward from last year's 7-9 record. How will the Buccaneers get that done?

    Consider this your daily buffet (and here you don’t have to pay or leave a tip), featuring everything you could ever want to know about the Buccaneers in free agency. When players are added, released or when the rumor mill starts buzzing, check back here for the news.

    Check back frequently because we’re going to be keeping score.

Latest Rumors and Reports

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    March 21: A source told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that if the New York Jets were willing to take both picks in the 2014 draft and none from this year, Tampa Bay would send their first- and second-round picks for cornerback Darrelle Revis.

    March 20: Sources told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that if the Buccaneers and the New York Jets came to an agreement for cornerback Darrelle Revis a long-term deal wouldn't be too hard to hammer out.

    March 19: A possible Plan B if Tampa Bay does move on from a possible trade for Darrelle Revis is to approach cornerback Brent Grimes, according to ProFootballTalk.

    March 19: Tampa Bay is close to giving up on a possible trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis, according to ProFootballTalk.

    March 18: Tampa Bay is trying to trade running back LeGarrette Blount, according to the Tampa Bay Times. If they are unable, might they cut him before the season starts?

    March 16: Tampa Bay is interested in bringing back cornerback E.J. Biggers, according to the Washington Examiner.

    March 15: Michael Bennett did not give the Buccaneers a chance to match the Seattle Seahawks' $5 million offer, according to the Tampa Tribune. Bennett feels that Tampa Bay didn't want him ans felt no need to give them the opportunity.

    March 15: According to Albert Breer of NFL Network, Matt Cassel chose the Minnesota Vikings over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

    March 14: Mike Garafolo of USA Today believes Michael Bennett will sign in Miami today after his visit. If not, Bennett is scheduled to visit the Detroit Lions next.

    March 14: Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported the Buccaneers could take a cornerback in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft and that Greg Schiano would have no trouble starting him from Week 1.

    March 14: Free agent defensive end Michael Bennett will visit the Miami Dolphins Thursday, according to ProFootballTalk.

    March 14: According to ProFootballTalk, the Buccaneers might get involved in talking with quarterback Matt Cassel.

    March 13: According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Tampa Bay front office and ownership group are ready to trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis but don't want to give up Tampa Bay's first-round pick (No. 13) in this year's draft.

    March 13: Dashon Goldson's visit to Tampa must be going well. According to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, Goldson's agent Ben Dogra is in the "contract negotiating stage" with the Buccaneers. (UPDATE: Goldson signed with the Buccaneers)

    March 13: Recently released running back/kick returner Leon Washington told Sirius/XM NFL Radio that Tampa Bay tried to trade for him prior to his release from the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. Pewter Report editor Mark Cook wrote that, if true, the Buccaneers could contact open free-agent talks with Washington.

    March 12: Tampa Bay was one of two teams that called New England to talk about quarterback Ryan Mallett on Tuesday, according to the Plain Dealer.

    March 12: ESPN New York, citing league sources, reported that the New York Jets are in trade talks with the Buccaneers and at least one other team for cornerback Darrelle Revis.

    March 12: Michael Bennett predicted his chances of staying with the Buccaneers were "20-to-40 percent" on the NBC Sports Network show Pro Football Talk.

    March 12: Tampa Bay may now be in the market for cornerback Darrelle Revis, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

    March 12: Former San Francisco 49ers free agent safety Dashon Goldson will visit the Buccaneers, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

    March 11: According to Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk, defensive end Michael Bennett will not give Tampa Bay a chance to match any offer he receives in free agency. 

    March 11: Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Buccaneers are shopping former second-round pick, wide receiver Arrelious Benn.

Free-Agency Additions/Re-Signings

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    March 20: Linebacker Jacob Cutrera: terms not disclosed [Tampa Bay Times]

    March 20: Long snapper Andrew Economos: terms not disclosed [Tampa Bay Times]

    March 15: Tight end Tom Crabtree: terms not disclosed [ESPN Milwaukee]

    March 14: Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree: Two-year, $2.6 million [Tampa Bay Times][Spotrac]

    March 13: Linebacker Jonathan Casillas: One-year, $3 million [ESPN]

    March 13: Free safety Dashon Goldson: Five-year, $41.25 million [Tampa Tribune]

    March 9: Running back LeGarrette Blount: one-year, $1.75 million deal [Spotrac]

    Feb. 13: Punter Chas Henry: Two-year, $1.2 million deal [Spotrac]

Free-Agency Subtractions

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    March 20: Cornerback E.J. Biggers has agreed to terms with the Washington Redskins, according to ProFootballTalk. Biggers was a seventh-round pick for Tampa Bay in 2009 and played in 13 games last year, accumulating a sack and an interception.

    March 14: Defensive end Michael Bennett signed a one-year deal worth $5 million with the Seattle Seahawks, according to ProFootballTalk.

    March 14: Linebacker Quincy Black was released because of a failed physical, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay will save $5.5 million against the salary cap.

    March 14: Right tackle Jeremy Trueblood signed with the Washington Redskins Thursday, according to Pewter Report.

Buccaneers Re-Sign RB LeGarrette Blount

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    Tampa Bay re-signed running back LeGarrette Blount to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

    Blount was relegated to a backup role when rookie Doug Martin stole the show and carried the ball 319 times in 2012, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. Blount is not going to steal his starting job back, and with no guarantees in his new contract he may not even win a roster spot.

    There may be another reason the Bucs made sure Blount’s contract was one that would be easy to offload. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Tampa Bay is looking to trade Blount, possibly for a mid-round draft pick.

    The Buccaneers need a backup to Martin, and Blount, while not an explosive back, now knows the system and could aptly perform the role. That said, with the way general manager Mark Dominik crushed the 2012 NFL draft, an extra pick, even a mid-round selection, could be turned into a valued contributor to the team.

    This isn’t a sexy move but possibly an incredibly intelligent one.

     

    Grade: A

Tampa Bay Adds FS Dashon Goldson

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted the highest-rated safety in the 2012 NFL Draft in Mark Barron last year, and the rookie started from Day 1. Just under a year later, general manager Mark Dominik signed arguably the top free-agent safety Dashon Goldson to a five-year, $41.25 million contract, according to the Tampa Tribune.

    The tandem of Barron and Goldson should make up one of the most formidable safety duos in the NFL.

    Goldson is a big hitter who tallied 69 tackles last year, but will best be utilized in the coverage game.

    According to Pro Football Focus (subscription - $$), Goldson is the eighth-ranked safety in the league in coverage. He pulled down three interceptions last year and allowed just one reception for every 32.1 coverage snaps played.

    Goldson is going to be asked to play a lot of single-deep safety so Barron can help in the box. This will be an important job because of the talented quarterbacks and receiving tight ends in the NFC South.

    Did the Buccaneers slightly overpay for Goldson? Absolutely. But Tampa Bay had that luxury and the team had to rebuild its defensive backfield that put up little fight last year in the passing game.

     

    Grade: A

Bucs Add LB Jonathan Casillas

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed linebacker Jonathan Casillas from in-division foe New Orleans on Wednesday. Casillas signed a one-year deal worth $3 million, according to the Times-Picayune.

    Casillas had 20 tackles in 14 games as a reserve and special-teams player with the Saints last season. With New Orleans shifting to a 3-4, Casillas likely would have seen a playing time reduction.

    Tampa Bay plans to add him to the mix at strong-side linebacker and have him compete for a starting job with a host of players, according to the Tampa Tribune.

    According to Pro Football Focus (paywall - $$), Casillas was one of three outside linebackers with the Saints last year that was on the field for at least 100 passing snaps. But Casillas had just one quarterback hurry and wasn’t a factor in the pass rush otherwise.

     

    Grade: C- 

Tampa Bay Adds WR Kevin Ogletree

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought in their new No. 1 wide receiver last year in free agency, and Vincent Jackson didn’t disappoint. The move pushed Mike Williams over to a more natural No. 2 spot, but there was still a void left in the slot.

    General manager Mark Dominik potentially fixed that issue Thursday by signing ex-Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported.

    The reason why Ogletree is only a potential fix is the fact that he busted out of the gates last year and then fizzled. Ogletree caught eight passes in Week 1 and 14 over the Cowboys’ first three weeks of the season. He then only caught 18 passes for the rest of the year (he missed two games—Week 10 and Week 12).

    In addition to the fall off, Ogletree only caught two passes in the slot last season, according to Pro Football Focus and 20 percent of his targets were on deep routes.

    It’s no secret that Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman likes to throw the ball deep, but the Buccaneers really need a presence in the middle of the field to keep the exterior receivers from being doubled or to keep safeties from cheating outside to help. If Ogletree can’t perform in the slot, he’s just a glorified third receiver.

     

    Grade: C-