The Off-Season Outlook is a team-by-team series that will look at all 32 NFL teams and give a quick snapshot of everything fantasy relevant position as we enter the off-season. All salary cap estimates are taken from sportrac.com which I can’t vouch for enough. They are my one stop shop for all things contracts and cap space related. Feel free to send any feedback to @robbyjeffries on Twitter.
Team: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap Space: $ 64,564,986 (5th most)
Round 1 Draft Picks: 7th Overall Pick
Fantasy Relevant Impending Free Agents:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
Charles Sims, RB
Peyton Barber, RB (ERFA)
Adam Humphries, WR (RFA)
Cameron Brate, TE (RFA)
Tampa Bay didn’t eat as many W’s as they wanted to in 2017. Despite being the most recent featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks, the Buccaneers struggled with both health and consistency on both sides of the ball this past season. Both GM Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter were on the hot seat when the season ended, however both have been retained and they are looking to rebuild the defense and find more consistent play on offense. With a large amount of cap space to spend, expect the Bucs to be major players in free agency this off-season. A decent chunk of that money will go towards improving the defense however. Let’s dive into the offensive skilled positions.
QB: Quarterback Jameis Winston had some rough stretches during the year, having four multiple-interceptions games despite missing three games with a shoulder injury. Despite the moments of inaccuracy, Winston is the face of the franchise and, assuming he doesn’t implode in his 4th year as a pro, should be given a 5th year option for 2019. Ryan Fitzpatrick
has an award winning beard is a capable backup and should be an easy re-sign for Tampa Bay. Tampa will likely try to improve at other positions to help out their signal caller, namely the running back position and offensive line.
RB: The up and down relationship between Tampa Bay and Doug Martin might be on its last legs. Backup Peyton Barber out snapped Martin 70 snaps to 21 in the final two weeks of the regular season and there have been many reports that the Buccaneers will move on from Martin, who has no cap penalties in his contract if cut. It is likely the Barber returns on a small contract after showing some capabilities in handling the workload. He doesn’t look like the future back for Tampa, but he seems like a good piece to have as we all know running backs get injured often. Receiving back Charles Sims is likely to leave via free agency to get more playing time, as he has shown he can produce through the air when given the chance. If Martin gets cut, the options for a replacement in free agency would be slim. Instead, I could see the Bucs targeting Ronald Jones III (USC) to be their next feature back.
WR: In what was a down year for Pro Bowler Mike Evans, he still managed to nab 71 receptions for just over 1,000 yards and five scores. It was his lowest yards total in his four-year career, but he will be a favorite in 2018 to bounce back to WR1 numbers. DeSean Jackson struggled to be the deep threat option that the Buccaneers were hoping he would be, posting his lowest yards per reception of his career. Jackson is 31 and it became apparent his separation ability is diminishing. He is owed $11 million in 2018 but is likely to remain on the roster due to his $7.5 million penalty in dead cap if cut. Rookie Chris Godwin started heating up as the 2017 season came to a close. The 21-year old popped off 209 yards and a touchdown in the final two weeks. He should be a factor going forward. The final name to mention is slot receiver Adam Humphries. Humphries is a restricted free agent who should be re-signed as he has been the teams #2 wide out behind Mike Evans the past two seasons. I don’t see many changes to this group unless something crazy happens and Jackson is moved.
TE: OJ Howard had a ton of hype after being selected as the first tight end off the board in the 2017 draft. He finished the season with six touchdowns but on only 26 receptions. Incumbent starter Cameron Brate continued to outperform his undrafted status, adding 6 more touchdowns and nearly 600 yards in 2017. This was a slight downgrade from his 2016 season, but he was still the more productive tight end to own in Tampa Bay. Brate is a favorite target of Winston’s and I would be semi-surprised if the Bucs didn’t match an offer sheet that could likely come in from another team. Howard is the future here, but Brate will see regular snaps that will split the value of both players if Brate remains on the roster in 2018.
2018 Lineup Prediction:
QB – Jameis Winston
RB – Ronald Jones III/Peyton Barber
WR – Mike Evans
WR – Adam Humphries
WR – Chris Godwin
TE – OJ Howard/Cameron Brate