By Eric Schmidt

After years of sitting on their wallets during the free agency period, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a big splash last season. Tampa came out of the starting blocks with a major signing of WR Vincent Jackson last year. They also added Pro Bowl OG Carl Nicks. The Buccaneers also overpaid for CB Eric Wright, a player expected to be released this offseason. With the start of free agency just 30 days away, the Buccaneers are expected to be big players once again this offseason.

General manager Mark Dominik told Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune, “We’ve got the chance to be (heavily) involved in free agency again.” Tampa is currently $30 million under the salary cap for 2013 and the team does have needs, especially on defense.

Tampa needs to re-sign some of their own players such as DT Roy Miller. Miller played alongside DT Gerald McCoy and helped the Buccaneers defensive line post the league’s best run defense last season. DE Michael Bennett led the Buccaneers in sacks this season with 9, but Tampa needs to be careful not to overpay for Bennett. His numbers in 2012 were better than his three previous years combined.

Cornerback is a serious area of need for Tampa. Despite posting the league’s best run defense, Tampa had the NFL’s worst pass defense last year. Tampa is going to face some formidable quarterbacks next season and can’t afford to roll into the 2013 season with two rookie corners.

Linebackers could be an area of concern as well. Veteran Quincy Black’s future remains in doubt. Tight end could be an area of concern as well with rumors surfacing this week regarding possible interest in New York Giants TE Martellus Bennett.

Tampa had a successful draft in 2012, hitting on players like RB Doug Martin, S Mark Barron and LB Lavonte David. Another successful effort in 2013 coupled with some key free agents, and the Buccaneers could be poised to make some noise in 2013.

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