A breakdown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2019 free-agent signings.
Donovan Smith, offensive tackle
The Bucs signed Smith to a three-year deal worth up to $41.25 million on Tuesday, March 5. Here's a closer look at the left tackle and 2015 second-round draft pick who spent the previous four seasons with the Bucs:
What it means: Smith won't be playing under the franchise tag, so his salary-cap hit goes from $14.1 million to $12.5 million in 2019. That may not seem like a huge difference, but it matters considering what little cap space the Bucs have (currently about $3.5 million). If they had tagged him this year and then again in 2020, they would have owed him $17 million in 2020 instead of the $14.5 million he'll count against the 2020 cap. So instead of paying $31.1 million over two years, they'll pay him $27 million in guaranteed money in that span and get a third year on top.
The team believes in Smith, but is he the long-term answer at such a marquee position? They think he's getting there and want to continue developing him to find out. Even with the cap savings on this move, it will be that much harder to re-sign Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries unless more roster cuts are made.
What's the risk? The guaranteed money is all paid out in the first two years of the contract. The Bucs were able to make a low-risk investment toward the future without being tied to a large, long-term contract for a player many in the organization believe hasn't reached his ceiling yet. It also means Smith could cash in on a much bigger deal in Tampa or elsewhere in 2022.
Shaquil Barrett, linebacker
After losing out on Markus Golden to the New York Giants, the Buccaneers signed Barrett to a one-year deal worth $5 million. Here’s a closer look at the outside linebacker who spent the last five seasons with the Denver Broncos:
What it means: Barrett gets a shot to become more of a contributor on defense, possibly even a starter – exactly what he wanted coming out of Denver, where he was buried on the depth chart behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. That’s how waiver-wire pickup Carl Nassib wound up beating out Vinny Curry to clinch a starting role last year. And Barrett has experience in a 3-4, playing for Wade Phillips. At the very least, the Bucs are getting a rotational player who’s highly motivated.
What’s the risk: Barrett is yet another one-year signing for the Bucs, who have yet to sign an outside free agent this offseason to a multi-year deal. Instead, the Bucs have lined up multiple “prove-it” deals, so there is virtually no risk with Barrett.
Deone Bucannon, linebacker
The Buccaneers are expected to sign Bucannon to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with $1.45 million, according to a source. The contract could be worth as much as $3.5 million with incentives. Here’s a closer look at Bucannon, a former first-round draft pick who spent the previous five seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.
What it means: A hybrid safety-linebacker when he was with the Arizona Cardinals, Bucannon will play linebacker for the Bucs, but could serve as a defensive back in sub packages. The Bucs lost linebacker Kwon Alexander in free agency, and given the uncertain future of Kendell Beckwith, this was a much-needed move. It also benefits the Bucs to have another linebacker besides Lavonte David who can excel when dropping into coverage.
What’s the risk? It’s a one-year, prove-it deal, so there is virtually no risk financially. Bucannon’s experience playing under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who created the “Moneybacker” position for him, can play an important role in installing the new defense. The only concern from a play standpoint is how he handles a full-time linebacker role in Bowles’ 3-4, as he was limited to a reduced role in Steve Wilks’ 4-3 last year. Bowles is well aware of Bucannon’s challenges last year, however, and his strength as a coach has been adapting his scheme to the talent he has available.
Breshad Perriman, wide receiver
Perriman agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on on Tuesday. But after they traded for Odell Beckham Jr., Browns GM John Dorsey and agent Drew Rosenhaus mutually agreed to not to follow through on the verbal agreement, and Perriman agreed to sign with the Buccaneers. The deal is for one year and $4 million. Here’s a closer look at the wide receiver who spent the 2018 season with the Browns.
What it means: A first-round draft pick out of UCF and the son of former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman, the younger Perriman has plenty of speed (he clocked a 4.24 40 time at his college pro day), something Bruce Arians coveted adding this offseason. Perriman helps fill the deep threat role that DeSean Jackson had before he was traded to Philadelphia. Perriman can get his hands on some deep balls; he averaged 21.3 yards per catch last season.
What’s the risk? Perriman has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, missing 27 regular-season games in four seasons. The Bucs don’t need him to take every snap though because they have Chris Godwin as their No. 2 receiver. But Perriman is purely a vertical guy and doesn’t line up in the slot, so unless Arians is going to pull a Larry Fitzgerald by putting Mike Evans in the slot, or utilizing tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate in that area, the Bucs still need to grab a slot receiver following Adam Humphries’ departure.
Ryan Griffin, quarterback
The Buccaneers are expected to sign Griffin to a two-year deal. Terms of the contract were not immediately available. Here’s a closer look at Griffin, who spent the previous four seasons as the Bucs' third quarterback.
What it means: This doesn’t mean Griffin will be Jameis Winston’s backup, but it does mean coach Bruce Arians recognizes Griffin's potential to compete for the job. Former coach Dirk Koetter kept Griffin on the 53-man roster as a third quarterback despite his lack of regular-season playing time because of their investment in Griffin’s training. They saw enough before and after a shoulder injury sidelined him in 2017 to keep him.
What’s the risk? The only real risk here would be if the Bucs don't add another quarterback to the mix, given that last year’s backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is an unrestricted free agent. But this signing doesn’t preclude them from doing that, and the expectation is they will bring in another quarterback to compete for the backup job.
Bradley Pinion, punter
The Buccaneers agreed to terms with Pinion on a four-year deal on Tuesday. Terms of the contract were not immediately available. Here’s a closer look at Pinion, who spent the previous four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
What it means: To make room for Pinion, the Bucs parted ways with punter Bryan Anger, who had a $3 million salary-cap charge in 2019 and three years remaining on his contract. A fifth-round draft pick out of Clemson in 2015, Pinion has a big, strong leg and can generate some good hang time to help out struggling coverage units.
What’s the risk? Pinion’s had some issues with consistency. He’s also not as strong in directional punting, something special teams coordinator Todd Armstrong indicated the Bucs would work on in 2019. His 43.7-yard career punting average is just below Anger’s 45-yard average, but his ability to handle kickoffs is huge in the event the Bucs want to sign a kicker who doesn’t handle kick-off duties, such as Matt Bryant.
Peyton Barber, running back
After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Barber an original-round tender to meet the 4 p.m. deadline, they re-signed the running back to a one-year contract Wednesday. It’s worth $2.125 million with $1 million guaranteed, according to a source. Here’s a closer look at Barber, who spent the previous three seasons with the Bucs.
What it means: The Bucs gave Barber slightly more money than he would have gotten on the $2.02 million tender, and in turn, they won’t have to worry about other teams possibly pursuing him and having to match their offers. There was also talk of a two-year deal, but this allows Barber to return to the negotiating table sooner to get a more lucrative extension, and it allows him and head coach Bruce Arians to get a feel for his performance in Arians’ system before making a long-term commitment.
What’s the risk: There isn’t one – this is a very affordable contract. Some will, however, point to the fact that the Baltimore Ravens locked up Mark Ingram on a three-year deal worth $15 million and the San Francisco 49ers got Tevin Coleman for two years and $10 million – those are relatively reasonable deals, even for cap-strapped teams like the Bucs.
But Arians likes what he sees from Barber. He said at the NFL combine last month, “I love him. When you watch him on tape you don’t see his 230 [pounds]. You would think he’s a 205-pound running back because he’s got great feet. Not every back’s going to be a home-run hitter, but if he gets those 10-15 yard runs, breaking tackles, power runner, punishing runner -- that’s kind of how I like to start. When we’re building something, that’s the kind I like to build around.” He also told a group of fans last week that Barber was the player he was “most shocked about” when he put in the tape.