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Buccaneers NFC South Free Agent Preview

Pro Football Weekly has a free agent preview on the NFC South, and here’s what they have on the Bucs heading into free agency.

Unsigned players:K Connor Barth (3), DE Michael Bennett (2), OLB Quincy Black (4), QB Rudy Carpenter (2), DE Tim Crowder (4), OL Demar Dotson (2), TE John Gilmore (9), OLB Adam Hayward (4), RB Kareem Huggins (1), OG Davin Joseph (5), MLB Niko Koutouvides (7), OT James Lee (3), S Corey Lynch (3), CB Elbert Mack (3), DT Frank Okam (3), MLB Barrett Ruud (6), WR Micheal Spurlock (3), WR Maurice Stovall (5), OT Jeremy Trueblood (5), DE Stylez White (4), RB Cadillac Williams (6).

Analysis: Protecting the new face of the franchise, QB Josh Freeman, is a top concern for GM Mark Dominik, and having Joseph back in the fold is a priority. Joseph, the starting right guard who was selected to the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2008 season, is coming off a broken foot, but it’s expected that he’ll get an offer from Tampa Bay if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Another one of the team’s core players in recent years, Ruud, also has an expiring contract. Ruud, who has led the team in tackles in each of the past four seasons, was disappointed that the Bucs didn’t offer him a long-term deal last offseason when he was a restricted free agent.

He would like a chance to explore his options on the open market. Black, who started alongside Ruud at linebacker, recently said the Bucs have not approached him about a contract extension. While Williams would be the second option in the backfield behind LeGarrette Blount, the Bucs would like to re-sign him. He’d like an opportunity to be a starter, but Williams would have a hard time finding a team willing to make him one. Defensive end is one of Tampa Bay’s biggest needs, and the team doesn’t view White as the answer to its pass-rush woes. He’ll get a chance to go elsewhere, as will Trueblood, who lost his starting job last season. Barth, Lee and Spurlock are due to become restricted free agents and will each be tendered.

Click HERE to see the other NFC South teams.

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