The Senior Bowl is an event devoted largely to scouting draft prospects but most general managers spend a little bit of their time there trying to get a jump on free agency as well.
With so many player agents walking around there’s an opportunity for GMs to begin negotiating deals aimed at retaining their own potential free agents and Bucs GM Jason Licht has done just that.
Licht told PewterReport.com this week that he has already begun discussing new deals for several players, most notably defensive end Will Gholston and running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
The Bucs would also like to keep wide receiver Russell Shepard, center Joe Hawley, quarterback Ryan Griffin and cornerback Josh Robinson and have talked with their representatives as well.
Not surprisingly, Licht referred to Gholston and Rodgers as “priorities,’’ a title that apparently does not describe the team’s feeling regarding several other free agents.
Among those the team may be willing to lose are right tackle Gosder Cherilus, linebacker Daryl Smith and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, all of whom will be 33 or older when the 2017 season starts.
The Bucs haven’t given up on re-signing backup quarterback Mike Glennon either but they realize they may not be able to keep him if a rival offers him a deal paying starter-caliber money or something close to it.
The same apparently holds true for safeties Bradley McDougald, who we wrote about Thursday and Chris Conte, both of whom are coming off solid seasons in which they may have increased their value.
Licht indicated to PewterReport that he would like to have both back for 2017 but that he’ll only bring them back if the contracts make sense for the Bucs going forward.
Again, none of this come as any great surprise. The players the Bucs are looking to retain are for the most part, guys that aren’t going to get ton of money or a long term deal in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. Rather, they are “pieces” under the salary cap that you need to make fit around your star players. And that group above is precisely those you would expect them to want to retain based on how they played last year.
Nor is it a great surprise that Licht used his time at the Senior Bowl to begin discussions with the agents for those players. Getting a jump on keeping your own is a big part of what happens in Mobile.