In the offseason, the Buccaneers signed more than a half-dozen veterans expected to play regular roles in 2014. Considering the franchise had hired a new coach (Lovie Smith) and G.M. (Jason Licht) after a 4-12 campaign in 2013, changes were to be expected.
However, beneath it all, there was a rather logical reason why the Bucs were aggressive in free agency, as Smith told the Buccaneers’ website in a story published Tuesday.
“We had five draft picks – five – so we had to look around,” Lovie Smith said, according to Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com. “We weren’t going to be able to bring in an awful lot in the draft, numbers-wise. Right after our evaluation process, we determined exactly what we needed. And then we looked at the available free agents and thought there were going to be a lot of opportunities to help ourselves. And that’s what happened.”
Offensive tackle Anthony Collins, center Evan Dietrich-Smith, defensive end Michael Johnson, quarterback Josh McCown, tight end Brandon Myers and cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Alterraun Verner all joined Tampa Bay in free agency, and the talent infusion surely helps the Buccaneers’ roster. But it’s not cheap to sign experienced talent, and the Bucs, like every other club, need to annually stock the roster with young contributors. The Buccaneers did add six drafted rookies in 2014, but in the process, they dealt away a 2015 fifth-round selection to move up for rookie offensive tackle Kevin Pamphile on the final day of the draft.