By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports reporter
There were many experts surrounding the NFL heading into the 2019 season predicting that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be nothing more than a 3-13, 4-12 football team. That record might’ve been nice in terms of positioning in the 2020 NFL Draft, but instead the Buccaneers took an entirely different route.
Tampa Bay finished with a record of 7-9 and are now faced with some big decisions when it comes to their own unrestricted free agents. The Buccaneers are coming off Year No. 1 under quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians and one of the first orders of business will be to make a decision on signal caller Jameis Winston. There’s others that must be decided on like outside linebackers Shaquille Barrett and Jason Pierre Paul and wide receiver Breshard Perriman.
Who exactly will Tampa Bay bring back and who will they left go? We take a closer look at some of the free agents that are currently slated to hit the free agent market and what Tampa Bay may end up doing with them.
Quarterback, Jameis Winston: If you want to start up a good debate over the dinner table, talk about if the Buccaneers will be bringing back Jameis Winston in 2020. It’s a debate that stirs Buccaneers’ fans strongly one way or another. For Winston, it’s been five seasons of work with only one season above the .500 mark and a whole bunch of good and bad. The problem is figuring out if he will ever swing the pendulum fully to the good side. Coming off a season after throwing for over 5,000 yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions, it would seem prudent to give Winston the franchise tag here. A long term deal seems off the table.
Outside linebacker, Shaquille Barrett: Setting records was the big theme for Tampa Bay in 2019 and Barrett broke the franchise’s single sack record previously held by Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp. Barrett ended the season with 19.5 sacks, ending up leading the entire NFL in that very category. There’s not much of a decision on whether Tampa Bay should bring Barrett back. The better question is will they apply the franchise, transition tags or sign Barrett to a long term deal?
Outside linebacker, Jason Pierre-Paul: In just 10 games played after an off-season of recovering from a scary neck injury that nearly ended his career, JPP came back to prove something and he did. Last season’s sack leader played enough to rack up 27 total tackles and notch 8.5 sacks. Not too shabby for a guy who had an injury that nearly took away not only a season of play but maybe his career. JPP is a leader in the locker and a short term deal seems in order.
Wide receiver, Breshard Perriman: Talk about the take of two halves in a season. Perriman went from a virtual unknown on the offensive side of the ball to being considered a viable No. 1 receiver by the end of the year. Perriman ended the season with over 30 catches for nearly 700 yards and providing Tampa Bay with a boost in the final four games. He made $4-million last season but a pay increase will be expected by Perriman’s camp. Perriman could end up leaving in free agency due to the higher price tag he will demand.
Defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh: Suh has become somewhat of a free agent mercenary when it comes to where to go. When the Los Angeles Rams offered him big money, he went to the big city. When Tampa Bay ponied up big money, Suh took his talents to the Buccaneers. It seems unlikely Tampa Bay will have the cap space to bring Suh back, but mentioned many times by head coach Bruce Arians, he wants to keep the defense intact.