Friday, 4 a.m.
Keep this in mind: Free agents aren't free.
Free agents can help turn a team around, such as Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers did last year. Or they can cripple a franchise, the way Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson once did after the Bucs threw millions of dollars at them. They can help a coach establish his blueprint. Or they can get a coach fired.
And so, here we are again, looking to offer a bit of help to the Tampa Bay Bucs. As always, there are decent players to be had. As always, there are those who, at this point, are more name than game. The challenge for a general manager, such as the Bucs' Jason Licht,
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is separating the two. Because the only thing worse than throwing good money at a bad player is that you might have to do it again to replace the bust you just hired.
Some of the top free agents, and an opinion on each.
1. Alshon Jeffery, receiver, Chicago: Jeffery hasn't had a 1,000-yard season since 2014, a span that also includes a PED suspension. Jeffery was the second-highest paid receiver in the league last year, so a team should beware of the dollar signs in his eyes. Still, Jeffery is only 27. He'll get more than $15 million a year.
2. Calais Campbell, defensive end, Arizona: The Bucs have my permission to sign Campbell.
3. Kevin Zeitler, guard, Cincinnati: if the Bucs decided to part with guard J.R. Sweezy, who didn't play a down, then Zeitler could be a find.
4. Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota: He'd be a perfect fit for the Bucs if only it were 2007 again. But Peterson has played in only 20 games the last three years, and he's going to want to be paid mega bucks. I'd pass.
5. Terrell Pryor, wide receiver, Cleveland: Too much Cleveland in him to count on the wide receiver to be an answer. He has great potential, but he could flop, too.
6. DeSean Jackson, wide receiver, Washington: Even at 30, Jackson is a deep threat. He's averaged more than 17 yards a catch for three years. I'd kick the tires if I were the Bucs, but I'd decide how much cash I wanted to throw at him beforehand.
7. Tony Jefferson, safety, Arizona: The Bucs have my permission to sign the former Cardinals' safety.
8. Martellus Bennett, tight end, New England: The guy's already talking about how much money he's going to make. Pass.
9. Eddie Lacy, running back, Green Bay: Who needs fat running backs? The guy will eat his bonus check.
10. Michael Floyd, wide receiver, Arizona: I'm afraid of giving millions to a guy who can't control the sauce.
11. Jamal Charles, running back, Kansas City: The Bucs need someone more reliable than the oft-injured Charles.
12. Julius Peppers, defensive end, Green Bay: Yes, he was a terror back when they had black-and-white TV, and he's headed for the Hall of Fame. But he's a bit old.
13. LeGarrette Blount, running back, New England: Doug Martin replaced Blount. Could Blount replace Martin? Still a bit of a lunkhead, but had a good year for the Patriots last year.
14. Mario Williams Dolphins: I was stunned that, according to NFL Network, there are only 54 free agents better than Williams, who is a waste of a pair of shoulder pads.
15. Nick Mangold, Jets: At 32, Mangold might have a couple of seasons left. I'd check him out.
16. Darrelle Revis, Jets: The Bucs have never been able to figure Revis out. They paid a fortune for him, then let him go for free the next year. Now, he's slow and old. Hey, Jason. Just say no.
17. Kenny Britt, Rams: He won't be as popular as Jeffery or Jackson, but he'll be a bigger bargain. Worth checking out.
18. Latavius Murray, running back, Oakland: Might be worth a gamble to replace Martin
19. Ted Ginn Jr., wide receiver, Carolina: No.
20.Geno Smith, quarterback, Jets: Hell no.