Sunday, December 10, 2017
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  • Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Breaking down Bucs’ pending free agents for 2018

With four weeks left and a 4-8 record for the Bucs, we can start looking ahead to the offseason and what could be a fair amount of turnover on Tampa Bay's roster.

Just how dramatic that is will start with answering whether head coach Dirk Koetter and general manager Jason Licht are back for 2018, but for now, we can take a look at which players are free agents this spring.

The good folks at Overthecap.com have the Bucs with $68-million in salary-cap room, fifth-most of any team. They can clear even more room by cutting underperforming players, and while they officially have 15 unrestricted free agents, only a handful have started more than three games this season.

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The biggest names are CB Brent Grimes, OL Kevin Pamphile and PK Patrick Murray. Grimes has played well but talked of retirement, and with Pamphile, the Bucs must decide which of their young linemen they want to extend longterm — Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith are free agents in 2019. Murray has solved a persistent problem at kicker and shouldn't be too expensive to re-sign.

There are many more familiar names who are part-time starters — DT Clinton McDonald, OL Evan Smith, S T.J. Ward, RB Charles Sims, CB Robert McClain, S Keith Tandy, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. The remaining UFAs: LS Garrison Sanborn, DE Will Clarke, DT Sealver Siliga, PK Nick Folk (who still could get waived in the next month) and DE Justin Trattou (injured in preseason, has never played for Bucs).

There are also four contributing players who are under contract for 2018, but have deals with club option years — OT Demar Dotson, S Chris Conte, DB Josh Robinson and C Joe Hawley. The Bucs can keep them, or not exercise the option and allow them to be free agents — the key difference is that they don't count as being cut, so if they sign elsewhere, it could help net the Bucs a compensatory draft pick. All four are due to make less than $4-million, so it's not even freeing up big money so much as roster spots.

They'll have more decisions on contracts with little or no guaranteed money for 2018 — is RB Doug Martin worth $6.75-million? is DE Robert Ayers worth $5-million? Is OG J.R. Sweezy worth $5.25-million? Is DT Chris Baker worth $4.875-million?

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The Bucs also have some big names who are restricted free agents, which means they can be tendered so Tampa Bay can match any offer sheet from another team. TE Cameron Brate could net a second-round tender, expected to be just under $3-million for one year, which means another team would have to give the Bucs a second-round pick to sign Brate away. WR Adam Humphries would also likely be tendered — he'd be in position to triple his salary with even a low tender in the $1.8-million range. The other RFAs are DE Ryan Russell, LB Adarius Glanton, CB Deji Olatoye and DB Jude Adjei-Barimah.

The Bucs have two "exclusive rights free agents" in RB Peyton Barber and CB Javien Elliott, but all they need to do is offer them a one-year, league-minimum salary and they're back for 2018.

Other players listed by some sites as free agents aren't — when the Bucs brought back WR Freddie Martino and FB/TE Alan Cross from the practice squad, they signed them to two-year deals, so they're under contract for 2018 and would be restricted free agents in spring 2019.

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