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Three Bucs players named top free agents for 2024 by ESPN

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a successful year in 2023, but it could be hard to replicate that success in 2024 with how many producers from the team are hitting free agency.

ESPN’s Matt Bowen compiled a ranking of the top 50 free agents in the NFL heading into 2024, and three Bucs players found themselves at the upper echelon of the rankings. There were five total Bucs players on the list, with linebacker Devin White coming in at No. 44 and LB Lavonte David at No. 48.

Bucs safety Antoine Winfield Jr., a first-team All-Pro, was named No. 10 on the list, with second-team All-Pro wide receiver Mike Evans coming in at No. 12 and quarterback Baker Mayfield at No. 13.

Bowen was particularly impressed with Winfield Jr.’s ability to be a jack of all trades, citing his multifaceted skillset on defense:

Winfield is an impact defender with the multidimensional traits to match in coverage, create pressure and show range to the ball. Entering his peak years, he already has 15 sacks, 11 forced fumbles and 7 interceptions over his career.

He noted that Mike Evans, despite his age, remains productive in the receiving game and that his particular skillset in the vertical game still holds up:

Evans has the frame to isolate as the boundary X receiver, creating matchup potential outside the numbers. The vertical ability is still there — Evans’ 11 catches on passes thrown 20 or more yards downfield tied for 10th this season — and he has the route traits to uncover. With 1,255 receiving yards (ninth) and 13 touchdowns (tied for first) this season, Evans should be viewed as a priority target in free agency.

Finally, Bowen also gave props to Mayfield’s ability to pass in a vertical offense as he did in 2023 and mentioned his playoff prowess as a reason why teams may be looking to acquire him for next season:

Mayfield topped the 4,000-yard mark and threw 28 touchdown passes this season, leading the Buccaneers to a playoff win. He’s at his best when throwing in rhythm from the pocket, and he uses his quick release and arm talent to decisively target multiple levels of the field. A good fit for an offense with a lot of play-action and schemed verticals, Mayfield moves up our free agent board given his production over the second half of the season, including two 300-yard playoff games.

As it stands, it will be challenging to bring back these three players — but not impossible. According to Over the Cap, the Bucs have around $37 million in cap space for 2024 and can certainly increase that in a number of ways with cuts and restructures. That number is 10th in the league, and while it is certainly possible to bring everyone back, the Bucs will need to decide who is worth bringing back and who is worth letting go to build a competitive roster not only for 2024, but the near future as well.

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire