Budget free agents the Bucs should sign this offseason

A Super Bowl window always has its costs, and for the Bucs, the bill comes due. $55 million over the cap, Tampa will have few resources to replenish its roster in free agency so they will be on the hunt for any bargains they can find.

While the Bucs can retain most of their offense, they are missing a key piece: a quarterback. Kyle Trask is the the only passer under contract, but he has yet to attempt more than 10 passes in the NFL, let alone start a game.

On defense, the Bucs are set to lose numerous starters and depth players. The secondary in particular could be devastated by free agency with Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal all on expiring contracts.

The Bucs will have to be very judicious with how they address these roster holes. Primary targets will include aging veterans, reclamation projects and borderline starters—anyone willing to take a smaller paycheck.

While most players in these categories are inexpensive for a reason, there are some hidden gems that could provide good value at a low cost.

Here are a few budget free agents the Bucs should sign:

QB Jacoby Brissett

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Brissett was only meant to be a stop-gap for the Cleveland Browns while Deshaun Watson was suspended, but he ended up being the best quarterback the Browns had in 2022. Brissett’s completion percentage, yards per attempt, sack percentage, passer rating and QBR were all superior to Watson despite making only $4.65 million.

Brissett isn’t flashy by any means, but he takes care of the football, a virtue appreciated by new Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales. Among active quarterbacks, Brissett is second in interception rate (1.5), trailing only Aaron Rodgers.

As he was in Cleveland, Brissett would be a stop-gap for Tampa. The Bucs will likely give Kyle Trask a shot to start, and 2024 should see the Bucs enjoy much more cap flexibility. While the Bucs are short on spending, however, Brissett is as good an option as any.

CB Kyle Fuller

(AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Fuller was once a rising defensive star in the NFL, posting a league-high seven interceptions and 21 pass breakups in 2018 on the way to a first-team All Pro nod. Since he left the Chicago Bears in 2020, Fuller has struggled to remain an impact player.

Fuller was benched by the Denver Broncos in 2021 and then tore his ACL while playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 2022. At 31 years-old and coming off a major knee injury, Fuller is not likely to have a competitive market.

Fuller only made $2.5 million in 2022 and should he play is likely to garner the veteran minimum. The Bucs will likely have to bring in several veterans to compete for playing time, but Fuller would likely have the strongest resume and the most potential for resurgence.

S Justin Evans

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A reunion may be in order for the Bucs and their 2017 second-round pick. After an ankle injury derailed his time in Tampa and nearly his NFL career, Evans made a comeback with the New Orleans Saints in 2022.

Primarily playing at free safety, Evans once showed promise as a center fielder in the secondary, recording three interceptions as a rookie. While Evans was largely a rotational and spot starter for the Saints, he remained healthy enough to play for 15 games, his most in the NFL.

Evans made just $1.03 million in 2022, and with a glut of safeties entering free agency and coming out in the draft, his market is not likely to markedly improve. A return to Tampa would given Evans a chance to start and the Bucs an opportunity to rectify a draft misstep.

DT Andrew Billings

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While the Bucs still have Vita Vea anchoring the defensive line, there are few linemen left to man the rotation around him. Revamping the line could start with Billings.

Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Billings is a uniquely built interior lineman with incredible strength. While not much of a pass rusher, he is highly reliable as a run defender.

Billings made the veteran minimum in 2022 while playing 52% of the defensive snaps in Las Vegas. He would provide a reliable presence in the defensive line rotation at a minimum cost.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire