Buccaneers 2023 free agency tracker: David returns; Mayfield headed to Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. -- NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2023 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, which means free agent signings can be made official after that. The first round of the 2023 NFL draft begins April 27 on ESPN.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked things off by re-signing one of their top free agents in cornerback Jamel Dean on Monday. The move was a big win for Tampa Bay, as Dean was regarded as the No. 4 top free agent in ESPN's top 100 available players rankings. The Bucs were able to make the move by restructuring the contracts of several players. They also were able to bring back linebacker Lavonte David, who was ranked No. 14 on the list.

Then on Wednesday, the Bucs went and got quarterback Baker Mayfield. The former No. 1 pick comes to Tampa on a one-year deal.

In an unrelated cap move Tuesday morning, the Bucs also moved on from starting right guard Shaq Mason, trading him to the Houston Texans.

Here's a breakdown of every 2023 NFL free-agent signing by the Bucs, and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Baker Mayfield, QB

The one-year deal is worth $4 million for Mayfield and has incentives that could push his earnings to $8.5 million.

What it means: This isn't starter money, but it is 'prove it' money. Mayfield gets a true shot to revive his career after showing promise with the Los Angeles Rams last season. Mayfield was claimed off waivers by the Rams on Dec. 6, just three days after the team placed starting quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve, and went 2-2 as their starter. But that was also after going 1-5 as a starter with the Carolina Panthers, who released Mayfield earlier in the season. This doesn't thwart the Bucs' long-term plans with Kyle Trask, but it does give him competition for the starting role while giving the Bucs a safety valve if Trask isn't ready to go from third-stringer to starter after spending his first two seasons behind Tom Brady.

What's the risk: This is low risk, potentially high reward financially, as this is nowhere close to starting quarterback money. Mayfield's big issue has been interceptions, though. His 64 regular-season interceptions are the most of any quarterback in the league since 2018. There were also questions about Mayfield's maturity with the Cleveland Browns, the team that drafted him. But former Panthers coach Steve Wilks said after his release, "He has been nothing but a professional for us," while Panthers teammate Austin Corbett, who was in Cleveland with Mayfield from 2018 to 2019, described him as "the ultimate teammate" and said, "everybody loved him."

Chase Edmonds, RB

The Bucs are signing Chase Edmonds to a one-year deal.

What it means: With Leonard Fournette released and Giovani Bernard unsigned, the Bucs now have some needed depth at the running back position behind Rachaad White and alongside Ke’Shawn Vaughn. Edmonds is a player that fits new offensive coordinator Dave Canales' wide zone run scheme -- designed to stretch defenses laterally -- in that he's got good lateral quickness and cutting ability. He can also provide special teams help, which he did quite a bit of when he was with the Arizona Cardinals from 2018 to 2019. In his five-year career, which included 18 starts, he’s rushed for 1,796 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also has 144 career receptions for 1,078 yards.

What's the risk: It's a one-year deal for the veteran minimum at $1.08 million, so there really is no risk, especially with the Bucs having little to spend in their present cap situation. He did have a down year last year, but it was spent between two teams -- Miami and Denver.

Lavonte David, LB

The deal is worth $7 million with incentives that can push the total value to $8 million.

What it means: Re-signing David, along with Dean, were priorities for the Bucs, in addition to landing a quarterback. While it's been David's desire to retire as a Buc, this signing wasn't a foregone conclusion and took some time. David's asking price was negatively impacted by Eric Kendricks' signing for two years and $13.25 million versus the $10 million per season that Bobby Wagner got last year with the Rams (the Rams released Wagner after one season, however). This also doesn't necessarily lock up David for the remainder of his career. Sources close to him feel he may play for another two or three years.

What's the risk: David could have gotten more, and at least one other team was offering it. He didn't miss a game last season at the age of 33, finishing with over 100 tackles after bouncing back after a Lisfranc injury hampered his 2021 season, so there is no risk at all. His impact on the locker room can't be overstated either. He's the player everyone in the organization points to as a "model Buc," and played a key role in developing Devin White. White is at his best with David on the field.

Jamel Dean, CB

The Bucs are bringing back Dean on a four-year, $52 million deal.

What it means: When you consider that Jaire Alexander is making $21 million per year and Denzel Ward is making $20.1 million, this move comes off as an affordable signing -- even though Dean is now the 14th-highest-paid cornerback in the league. What else the team does in free agency will depend on how it structures this deal with respect to its cap (the Bucs are still working that out), but linebacker Lavonte David should be the next player it goes after. This will also make it more difficult for the Bucs to re-sign cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting, who might not have the market Dean had but has a lot of versatility.

What's the risk: Dean made a big jump this past year. At 6-foot-1, with a 4.3 40-yard dash time, Dean complements the physicality of Carlton Davis III, who is making $14.83 million per year himself. The knee issues Dean had in high school and college have not been a factor in his NFL career, but he was plagued by a broken big toe at the end of last season.

Anthony Nelson, LB

The Bucs re-signed Anthony Nelson to a two-year, $11 million deal, worth up to $13 million.

What it means: Nelson has steadily improved over the last two years, as he's taken on bigger roles. He's really learned to use his 6-foot-7 frame to his advantage, with three forced fumbles this past year. You would have liked to have seen his sack numbers go up last season (5.5 sacks and 10.5 over the last two years) to offset the loss of Shaquil Barrett. But the same could also be said for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who played 200 more snaps than Nelson last season.

What's the risk: Financially, this move is more affordable than some of the edge rushers who, like Nelson, are 26 to 28 years old, playing 40 to 50% of snaps and registered between 4.5 and 5.5 sacks last season. The one outlier being Lorenzo Carter, who played 80% of snaps with the Atlanta Falcons last year and got a two-year deal worth $9 million. This offseason, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo got a deal worth $6.33 million per year on a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, Arden Key got a deal worth $7 million a year on a three-year deal with the Tennessee Titans and Samson Ebukam got a three-year deal worth $8 million with the Indianapolis Colts. From a health standpoint, Nelson missed one regular season game in three years, so he's solid. The feeling is also that Nelson still hasn't reached his ceiling.

Aaron Stinnie, OG

The Bucs signed Stinnie to a one-year deal worth up to $2.5 million.

What it means: In trading Shaq Mason to the Houston Texans, the Bucs will likely need to turn to the draft to address the guard position as Nick Leverett isn't solidified at the left guard spot either. Stinnie was in competition for that spot in camp before suffering a torn ACL and MCL, and he'll be in competition again this year, along with Robert Hainsey and Luke Goedeke. Of course, they also have a vacancy at left tackle with Donovan Smith's departure too. It's not crazy to fathom a scenario where All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs moves to the left side.

What's the risk: A source says Stinnie is progressing well in his rehab, but it hasn't been determined if he'll be ready for OTAs, minicamp or training camp. The deal is a good value for a cash-strapped team for a player who started in three playoff games in the Bucs' Super Bowl run in relief after Alex Cappa suffered a broken leg.

Greg Gaines, DT

The Bucs agreed to a one-year deal with Greg Gaines.

What it means: With Akiem Hicks and William Gholston unrestricted free agents and Rakeem Nunez-Roches signing with the New York Giants, the Bucs needed some defensive line help, and to get younger. At 26, Gaines brings youth and reunites with former college teammates at Washington in Vita Vea and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Gaines was considered an 'under the radar' contributor for the Rams' defense over the last four years.

What's the risk: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Gaines underwent a labral and bicep tendon repair earlier this offseason, but "is not expected to have any limitations this offseason." Gaines suffered the injury during training camp but played through it this season. He's only missed one regular season game in the last three years.

Patrick O'Connor, DE

The Bucs are re-signing Patrick O'Connor on a one-year deal.

What it means: O'Connor's been one of the Bucs' core special teams players, amassing 962 regular season special teams snaps since 2019 -- 12th most of any player in the league at any position and 1,079 (sixth-most) in regular and postseasons combined. He blocked a 61-yard field goal attempt by Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker this past season and had a blocked punt against the Denver Broncos in 2020.

What's the risk: He's only missed four regular season games over the last three years, landing on injured reserve after suffering a knee injury in Week 15 of the 2021 season. He's getting a veteran salary benefit, so the financial implications are minimal for a player who brings a ton of value on special teams and lines up at both defensive end and defensive tackle for coach Todd Bowles' defense.

Cam Gill, LB

The Bucs are bringing back Cam Gill on a one-year deal.

What it means: Gill's been with the team since 2020 and contributed a half sack in Super Bowl LV. A 2020 undrafted free agent out of Wagner, Gill is considered a "high effort" player by the staff. He's seen action in 25 regular season games with 1.5 sacks, 17 combined tackles, a tackle for a loss and three quarterback hits. He played 569 special teams snaps over the course of those games, with 11 combined special teams tackles, second most on the team from 2020-2021.

What's the risk: Gill, 25, missed the 2022 season with a Lisfranc injury, which led to the return of veteran Carl Nassib. The year prior, Gill started the season on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury but was activated Oct. 9, so health will be key as the Bucs were lacking in outside linebacker depth last season, which showed after Barrett was lost for the year with a torn Achilles.