Coming up with new content ideas is always fun but with some uncertainty around the salary cap, it can make it difficult. So for this one, I wanted to go team by team and give each team in the NFL one free agent they must sign and one player they must draft in the 2021 NFL Draft. After all, we have about a week until the new league year begins and the projected salary cap will be set somewhere between $180-$185 million.
As long as you’re not the New Orleans Saints or Atlanta Falcons, you should be fine. Both of those teams are so deep into the negative,
Starting off this new series will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s only fitting that we start with the Super Bowl Champions, right? To summarize, the Buccaneers are currently projected to have around $4.5 million in cap space according to OverTheCap. That doesn’t look great considering some of their key contributors are set to hit the free agent market. Those players are: Shaq Barrett, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh and Rob Gronkowski. However, they applied the franchise tag to wide receiver Chris Godwin and resigned linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year extension.
With the Bucs limited in cap space compared to other teams, they’ll need to look at restructuring a few contracts if they plan on signing a few free agents. Regardless, they’ll still be limited to a certain degree. That being said, here’s one player they need to sign in free agency and one player they should draft during the 2021 NFL Draft!
Free agent to target: Melvin Ingram, EDGE
Getting on the wrong side of 30 is never fun for an NFL player. Especially when injuries start to pile up. For Ingram, that happens to be the case. He’ll be 32 years old right before the 2021 NFL Draft and he’s battled through injuries. In 2019. he missed three games due to a hamstring injury and in 2020, he was put on IR after injuring his knee.
Chop/Spin by Melvin Ingram@MelvinIngram sells his rush to one side. Once the OL punches, he chops his arm down, windmills inside & "ice picks" the blocker to clear him & keep him from recovering! #PassRush #Chargers
— DLineVids (@dlinevids1) July 23, 2019
Teams will proceed with caution but with the Bucs trying to capitalize as much as possible on their “Brady window”, they could be one of the suitors for Ingram. It would be surprising to see Ingram cash-in on a long-term deal from a franchise. But for the Bucs, he could be signed on a one-year deal on somewhat of a discount due to where he’s currently at in his career. As great as it would be for the Bucs to re-sign Barrett, he seems destined to sign elsewhere.
By signing Ingram, he provides the Bucs a cheaper one-year option. If healthy, it could pay off for both parties, too. Keep in mind, Todd Bowles is still the defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay so it would be incredibly fun to see how Ingram is utilized. After all, we’ve seen him sugar the A-gaps and drop back into coverage to posting double digit sack numbers for the Chargers. I’m not sure if we’ll see that type of production but if he can flirt with six to seven sacks for the Bucs, that’s a win.
Prospect to target: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Moving over to my category, the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s one player the Bucs should be all in on and that’s Javonte Williams. In my first and only (so far) mock draft, Williams was the selection for the Bucs with the 32nd overall pick.
For the people that say “running backs don’t matter” or “not in the first round.” I say, go fly a kite. Keep in mind, they won’t get a shot at him in the second round — he should be long gone by then. Overall, Williams would be a huge help to a Bucs offense that struggled with consistency on the ground all season.
They were fortunate that Fournette got hot at the right time but again, he’s probably signing elsewhere. As for Ronald Jones, it just feels like that dream is dead of him being a true number one running back. Williams might have been in a timeshare at North Carolina but give him the keys to the backfield in Tampa Bay.
Javonte Williams is probably my favorite player in the 2021 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/O6ASicGc57
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) January 9, 2021
Whether it’s his contact balance, lower body flexibility or just how bad Williams wants to punish defenders in the box or open field, he’s a terrific running back. Put him in the Bucs offense and he flourishes.