Free agency - buyer bewareBy Mitch BlackwoodWith just under a month until the blue light special starts on the 2019 NFL Free Agency period, it is worth looking back 12 months to see whether the whole process is worth the money for the Buccaneers. Every fan out there of course seems to think we are acquiring Le’veon Bell, Antonio Brown, the Honey Badger and the woman-beating ex-Kansas City running back and already has GM Jason Licht pencilled down as a total failure if the entire quartet does not suit up for new coach Bruce Arians in training camp. A year ago the Buccaneer front office realised they had a real problem with their defensive line and went all out to do something about it. The draft brought Vita Vea, a trade with the Giants brought Jason Pierre-Paul and free agency brought a trio of arrivals in Vinny Curry, Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein. Further signings in the supermarket sweep saw C Ryan Jensen and K Chandler Catanzaro ink multi-million dollar contracts. But were they worth it?Ryan JensenArrived from Baltimore on a four-year deal with a total value of $42M. His 2018 numbers were a $2M salary and $10M signing bonus. He then earns $10M salaries for each of the next three years (a slight bonus adjustment is due in the final year of the contract). Worth it? Yes - he was the best center available in free agency and signing him improved two spots with Ali Marpet going back to his natural position of guard.Chandler CatanzaroSigned to a three-year deal with a $2.1M base salary in 2018 and a $1.65M signing bonus. Lasted nine games before being released. Definitely not worth it.Vinny Curry UPDATE - Was released on February 12th - we called itHad a won a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles and hence became a free agent with the philosophy of “got my ring now to get my money”. His was a three-year deal with a total value of $23M. 2018 was a $3M base salary and a $3.5M signing bonus. His 2019 salary is $8M base increasing to $8.5M in 2020. He lost his starting job to Carl Nassib at mid-season and looks a prime target to be released freeing up that salary element in 2019.Beau AllenSee Viny Curry. His contract was three years for $15M total. He earned $5M last season in salary and signing bonus with $3.5M/$1.5M scheduled for 2019 and then a $5M base salary in 2020. For a pure run-stuffer, this is pretty expensive. If the Bucs go to a 3-4, his remaining on the roster will depend on whether the new defensive staff believe he can play the role. Otherwise it could be one and done in Tampa.Mitch UnreinArrived from Chicago on a three-year deal with a total value of $10.5M. He earned $3M in salary and bonus in 2018 without playing a down having been injured in pre-season. The Bucs are currently picking up a tab for 2019 for $2.75M base and $1M bonus followed by $3.75M base in 2020. He could well be on his way without ever making it on to the all-time Buccaneer roster.Overall a hit with Jensen, a miss with Catanzaro (a someone apt description) and three expensive mistakes on the defensive line. This is the true cost of trying to build your roster through free agency so merely looking at a list of potential signings and assuming they all want to come to Tampa/will be successful in a different scheme/will not suffer a downturn now they have been paid is something to consider when looking ahead to the 2019 process.
The 2017 free agentsWR DeSean Jackson was a success. DT Chris Baker was a total disaster and CB Robert McClain was un-noticed.The 2016 free agentsP Bryan Anger and CB Brent Grimes were important additions. DE Robert Ayers was another over-paid and under-performing lineman and G JR Sweezy was either hurt or a bust depending on your view.