Bucs Free Agent Focus Part 3

Josh Johnson (AP Photo)

For the next several days, Scout.com and Bucsblitz.com experts will debate free agent issues surrounding the Buccaneers. Today, Adam Caplan, Tyler Frazier, and Matthew Postins discuss what the Bucs should do to find a capable, veteran backup for Josh Freeman. Who should the Bucs bring in? Find out right here.

The Bucs have Byron Leftwich, but there's a belief that he'll be cut before March. As the Bucs work to develop Josh Freeman, they still need a veteran QB to back him up and mentor him. Based on the free agent list now, who do you think would be a good fit for that role?

Adam Caplan, Scout.com: There's no way he comes back based on his contract. He has a roster bonus of $3.5 million and is due a total of $5.5 million for 2010. A.J. Feeley (Panthers) and Chris Redman (Falcons) would be good fits to back up Freeman.

Tyler Frazier, Bucsblitz.com co-publisher: Byron Leftwich said in January that he hopes to remain a member of the Bucs next season. For this to happen, the two sides need to renegotiate his contract because the team cannot afford to give him his $3.5M roster bonus that is due to him in March. If that can get worked out, Leftwich would be welcomed back with open arms to Tampa. If not, the best available unrestricted free agent quarterback available is Chad Pennington, but he may not be the best fit for tutoring a young Josh Freeman. Veteran and now Super Bowl Champion Mark Brunell could be a nice fit but he is heading into his 18th season. Most likely, the team will try and go after Falcons backup Chris Redman or Panthers backup A.J. Feely.

Matthew Postins: There are times when it stinks going last, because our answers to this question are pretty much the same. Pennington, Feeley, and Redman are the best veteran backups you can buy on the market right now. Now, when I say the "best," I mean this – whoever comes to Tampa Bay knows they're the backup, not the starter. So you can eliminate guys like Denver' Kyle Orton or Washington's Jason Campbell, who are looking for competitive starting situations. That's not what's happening in Tampa Bay.

The question is, in the wake of the trade rumors involving the Bucs and Rams (which also involve backup QB Josh Johnson) is if the Bucs will even need a veteran backup. If they deal Johnson, they'll have to sign someone, but Feeley and Redman may be gone by the time that deal gets done. Pennington's hurt and there's no guarantee he'll want to play next season, or that his body will even be right enough to play. Sometimes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know, which is why keeping Johnson a bit longer might make more sense than rolling the dice on someone with a questionable track record. I'd go Johnson first, then Pennington, then Feeley.

Two former Bucs are out there, as well, in Jeff Garcia and Bruce Gradkowski. But they won't be darkening the Bucs' door anytime soon. But wouldn't that just be a hoot if either one of them did?

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