Buccaneers 2024 free agency tracker: Offseason moves, signings

What $100M contract means for Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers (1:52)

Jenna Laine reports on Baker Mayfield's three-year, $100 million contract with the Buccaneers. (1:52)

TAMPA, Fla. -- NFL free agency is off and running, and we're keeping track of every major signing, trade and release of the 2024 offseason, with analysis from our NFL Nation reporters and grades from our experts. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got ahead of things and were able to re-sign wide receiver Mike Evans to a two-year deal and quarterback Baker Mayfield to a three-year deal before the week of free agency began last month.

The first round of the 2024 NFL draft also begins April 25 on ESPN. Here's a breakdown of every 2024 NFL free agent signing by the Buccaneers and how each will impact the upcoming season:

Baker Mayfield, QB

The Buccaneers and Mayfield agreed to a three-year, $100 million deal, according to sources.

What it means: General manager Jason Licht said he'd throw another boat parade if he could get back Mayfield, Evans, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., linebacker Lavonte David, tackle Tristan Wirfs and kicker Chase McLaughlin, and he's well on his way to doing that. Mayfield gets rewarded for a terrific nine-win season and playoff victory, and he gets the organizational stability he's longed for, while ensuring he'll still have a strong supporting cast.

What's the risk: It's essentially a two-year deal worth $60 million and in the third year, it's $40 million unless the Bucs decide to get out of it, in which they'd incur little dead cap money doing so. That's an important distinction considering they played with $80 million in dead cap money in 2023. The next concern would be injuries -- Mayfield's aggressive playing style outside the pocket does make him more vulnerable to them. But he only missed five regular season games outside of 2022. And he'll have top target Evans for at least the next two seasons.

Mike Evans, WR

The Bucs and Evans reached an agreement on a two-year, $52 million contract that includes $35 million guaranteed.

What it means: Those closest to Evans have long felt he'll play for at least two more years. This move may very well keep him in Tampa for the entirety of his career, which has been a desire for Evans and the Bucs all along. General manager Jason Licht said last week at the combine that they'd likely have to "strain" to get this deal done, but he kept good on his word in bringing Evans back to Tampa -- which has been the team's top priority. Their window to contend remains open, assuming they re-sign quarterback Baker Mayfield. Sources say that Mayfield may not make it to free agency, either.

What's the risk: Considering Evans showed no drop-off at age 30 last season, finishing with yet another 1,000-yard receiving season and tying for the league lead with 13 touchdowns for the first time in his career, there really isn't one -- unless his body starts to wear down. There have been no indications of that happening. He has been remarkably durable, missing just nine games in 10 seasons, and he's shown he can play in just about every offense, with any type of quarterback.

Randy Gregory, OLB

The Bucs signed Gregory to a one-year deal worth $3 million with up to $5 million in incentives.

What it means: Outside linebacker was one hole the Bucs had yet to fill in free agency after the loss of Shaquil Barrett in free agency. But it doesn't preclude them from selecting an outside linebacker in the draft and by all means, they should. So far, they have Yaya Diaby penciled in as one starter, and then a slew of rotational players, Gregory included.

What's the risk: Since entering the league in 2015, Gregory has missed 54 games because of marijuana-related suspensions (with the last coming in 2020), but under the new CBA enacted in 2020, players cannot be suspended for positive marijuana tests -- they can only be fined. Gregory started last season with the Denver Broncos before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers. He played in 16 games and three playoff games -- including Super Bowl LVIII. At this point in his career, at age 31, he's looking more like a rotational player than a starter, but he can still be somewhat productive with 3.5 sacks last season.

Bryce Hall, CB

The Bucs are signing the former New York Jet on a one-year deal.

What it means: The Bucs traded away cornerback Carlton Davis and coach Todd Bowles said this week that Zyon McCollum - the team's No. 3 cornerback last year - would have the opportunity to start in 2024. But they needed a No. 3 outside cornerback to take McCollum's role from last year. Hall started 26 of 39 games, including all 17 in 2021, so he provides not only depth but also the ability to start at an injury-plagued position for the Bucs. While he was relegated to a backup role after the emergence of D.J. Reed and Sauce Gardner, he did return a fumble for a touchdown to seal a Week 5 victory over the Denver Broncos last season.

What's the risk: A fifth-round draft pick out of Virginia in 2020, Hall was considered one of the top cornerbacks in college football, but his senior season at Virginia was cut short by a fractured fibula and dislocated ankle. He was a healthy scratch by the end of his time with the Jets. It's a league minimum deal so there is minimal risk, and he can push McCollum.

Jordan Whitehead, S

Whitehead is signing a two-year deal for $9 million -- worth up to $10.5 million with incentives.

What it means: The Bucs coaching staff and front office were high on Whitehead, but they had limited funds after two years with Tom Brady. In four seasons, Whitehead started 55 of 59 regular-season games. Although Whitehead is considered at his best in the box and is an exceptionally hard hitter, he can play both high and low and has worked very hard throughout his career to demonstrate his coverage ability, coming off a career-high four interceptions in 2023.

What's the risk: Considering Whitehead's previous deal was for two years and $14.5 million and his interceptions were tied for third-most in the league among safeties, the Bucs got great value with Whitehead. He's a proven player who knows their system with demonstrated reliability, and he has a strong relationship with Winfield.

John Wolford, QB

The Bucs are bringing back their QB3 on a one-year deal.

What it means: This was a no-brainer, given not only Wolford's relationship with Mayfield, but Wolford's intimate knowledge of new offensive coordinator Liam Coen's system when they were with the Los Angeles Rams together. He's a true conduit between the coaching staff and players, ensuring the Bucs have a supportive quarterback room. And if need be, he can step in to play.

What's the risk: Not much. Wolford made himself very valuable to the coaching staff, coming to them with ideas, while also supporting the other QBs on the roster. Wolford did suffer a neck injury in the second preseason game against the Jets last year, however, but he quickly bounced back. Wolford originally suffered a neck injury in the 2020 season, and he reinjured it in 2022 during the Rams' wildcard game against the Seahawks, and like last year with the Bucs, left in an ambulance.

Ben Bredeson, OG

1 year, worth up to $3.5 million

What it means: Bredeson played 926 snaps at left guard, 362 snaps at center and 468 snaps at right guard in 45 career games, so he's got a lot of versatility. He started 16 games last season with the Giants and will compete for jobs at center and guard. He produced a pass blocking win rate of 92% among guards and 88.3% as a center. He produced a 56.3% run block win rate as a center, just a tick below current center Robert Hainsey (59.6%) and a 65.8% run block win rate as a guard, so it's clear that he's a more developed pass blocker than run blocker.

What's the risk: At minimum, Bredeson can take on Nick Leverett's role of being a do-it-all backup along the line, which was extremely valuable on game day. And it's possible he earns his way into a starting role, but this feels more like a depth piece. He had 14 sacks attributed to him in 2023 (to be fair, so did then-rookie right guard Cody Mauch), tied for the most among interior offensive linemen. His 58.8% run blocking win rate was last among guards and centers with over 100 snaps last season, and this is an area the Bucs must improve on, but this is good value for an interior offensive lineman while still leaving the door open for what's considered to be a very good interior draft class.

Justin Skule, OT

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

What it means: The Bucs will have last year's swing tackle back after he played 19 regular-season snaps last year with three at left tackle. On 15 run block snaps last year, Skule produced a 33% run block win rate. He also played 15 total snaps (nine offense, 10 special teams) in the postseason.

What's the risk: Skule is considered a better run blocker than pass protector, although the numbers weren't there last year compared to his first two seasons when he was with the San Francisco 49ers -- where he started 12 of 31 games in 2019 and 2020. He also surrendered seven sacks on 384 pass blocking snaps there. Perhaps it was just too small of a sample size last season in Tampa, where the offensive line struggled as a whole, but this provides good value while still possibly leaving room to upgrade in the upcoming draft.

Sua Opeta, OG

Opeta is coming in on a one-year deal.

What it means: The Bucs are getting potentially getting a top backup guard. Since 2020, Opeta has started 10 of 38 career games. In six starts last season (he played 132 snaps at left guard and 384 snaps at right guard), he registered a 90.9% pass block win rate, a tick below Bucs free agent Matt Feiler. He surrendered a total of six sacks in 277 pass blocking snaps. But as a run blocker -- and this stood out -- he recorded a 76.4% win rate, which was 19th in the league.

What's the risk: It doesn't appear that the Bucs will be re-signing Feiler, who started six games at left guard last year. While Bredeson felt like more of a depth signing, Opeta could win a starting job. And while the upcoming draft features a strong interior offensive line class, this gives the Bucs more flexibility, and in particular, can help their run game improve from last season.

Tavierre Thomas, CB

Thomas is coming in on a one-year deal.

What it means: The Bucs are creating more competition at the nickelback position and bringing some more experience. Last season, undrafted free agent rookie Christian Izien won the starting job, but as Bowles said at the NFL combine, he had a "dip in the middle of the year -- he had that kind of rookie wall and kind of got over that and finished up the season strong." Since 2018, Thomas has logged 1,166 regular season snaps at nickel -- so they're getting experience. They're also getting one of the league's top nickelbacks from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, producing a 65.5% opposing passer rating (third best in the league among nickelbacks with 200 or more coverage snaps), a 61% completion rate allowed (fourth best) and a 61% coverage success rate (second best), and he allowed two touchdowns in that two-season span, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

What's the risk: Statistically, Thomas wasn't the same player in 2023, with opposing quarterbacks registering a 110.7 passer rating (36th in the league among nickelbacks with 100 or more snaps), a 69% opposing completion percentage (also 36th), a 54.1% coverage success rate (19th in the league) and 5.4 yards after the catch per reception (24th) -- all according to NFL Next Gen Stats. But it's low risk as it's a one-year deal with potentially a high reward if he can return to his previous form.

Lavonte David, LB

David is returning to the Bucs on a one-year deal worth up to $10 million, a source confirmed to ESPN.

What it means: The longest-tenured Buc, future Ring of Honor member and undisputed heart and soul of the locker room is back for a 13th season. He got a well-deserved raise from his $7 million deal last year. David remains one of the best all-around linebackers in the league in his ability to blitz, cover and stop the run. We may even see more of that variety given Devin White's likely departure, depending on who his next inside linebacking counterpart is.

What's the risk: David is 34 but hasn't shown signs of regression. They probably could have secured him for two more seasons a la Demario Davis' new deal with the New Orleans Saints, but the Bucs are going year-to-year at this point in David's career. He missed two regular season games last year because of a groin injury and five in 2021 because of a foot injury. But his practice load has been well-managed, and he's still arguably one of the top two players on defense.

Chase Edmonds, RB

The one-year deal for Edmonds is for $1.5 million, but it is worth up to $2 million.

What it means: The Bucs No. 2 back behind Rachaad White returns. Edmonds has excellent burst and packs a surprisingly punch between the tackles despite having a smaller frame at 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry on runs up the middle this year. He's also a great fit for their running backs room, serving as a big brother to White, coaching him up on the sideline and in the locker room.

What's the risk: Edmonds, 27, went to injured reserve with a sprained MCL after Week 2, forcing him to miss four games in the regular season. But when healthy, he took some of the burden off White and gave them some late-season juice. However, he's played a full season two times (2018 and 2020), so they should try to get more out of third-strong back Sean Tucker and look to add to this room.

Chase McLaughlin, K

The Bucs got their kicker on a three-year, $12.3 million deal.

What it means: McLaughlin broke the franchise's single-season field goal percentage (93.5), going 29-of-31 on field goal opportunities. The Bucs moved on from Ryan Succop and sought out McLaughlin specifically for his ability from beyond 50 yards, and he delivered -- making 7-of-8 kicks from 50 yards or more (87.5%), which was top five in the league in terms of total and percentage. He was also one of eight kickers to go 100% on 30 or more extra point attempts.

What's the risk: McLaughlin's $4.1 million average per year puts him 12th in the league. When you consider that they signed Succop to a near identical deal in 2021, back when the salary cap was $182.5 million (it's $255.4 million now), this comes off as a bargain. But can he replicate the success he had last year? Prior to 2023, his highest field goal percentage was 83.3, and in 2021, it was 71.4.

Greg Gaines, DT

Tampa Bay and defensive tackle Greg Gaines agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal on Monday.

What it means: Gaines also signed with the Bucs last offseason on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million. He brings depth to the Bucs' interior defensive line, which is important given that nose tackle Vita Vea has had some injuries (Vea missed two regular season games last year), and they like to have a rotation of defensive linemen. His 29.1% run stop win rate was fourth on the team behind Vea, and he frequently took on double teams (62.7% -- second highest on the team).

What's the risk: This is solid value for a rotation player who sees the majority of action on first and second down. The Bucs like that he has some positional flexibility and can line up in different spots along the defensive line, and he had a key fumble recovery in the Bucs' Week 18 win over the Carolina Panthers that clinched the NFC South.