The Tom Brady comeback effect continues with another key Tampa Bay Buccaneers free agent re-signing.
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis III re-signed with the team on Monday, March 14, for a three-year contract “worth $45 million with $30 million guaranteed” according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Bucs considered Davis for the franchise tag according to Bleacher Report, and other teams such as the New England Patriots had interest according to Boston.com.
Davis celebrated his return to Tampa Bay on Tuesday, March 15, with an Instagram post.
“24 is BACK. Forever grateful and thankful to my teammates, coaches, my personal team, my family, and God,” Davis wrote.
That makes two key free agents re-signing with the Bucs since Brady announced his return on Sunday, March 13. Center Ryan Jensen re-signed with the Bucs with a three-year, $39 million deal on Sunday shortly after Brady’s announcement.
Davis’ return gives the Bucs a big boost. He had 39 tackles, 11 pass deflections, an interception, and a fumble recovery in 10 games last season. He missed games due to a quad injury.
His pass breakup ability ranks at the top of the NFL since 2019 according to Pro Football Focus. Davis forced 48 incompletions in that span. The next highest total was 44.
The Bucs drafted Davis in the second round of the 2018 draft. He tallied 207 tackles, six interceptions, 52 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries in his first four seasons.
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Davis Highly Sought After in Free Agency
Davis ranked high among free agents coming into the new NFL year, which officially starts on Wednesday, March 16.
Pro Football Talk ranked him ninth overall and second among cornerbacks. ESPN ranked Davis at 11th overall and first for cornerbacks. He ranked 17th among free agents by Pro Football Focus.
Besides the Patriots, the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers were linked to Davis as possible destinations. Pro Football Network also projected Davis going to the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, or Philadelphia Eagles.
He commanded a market value of $19.6 million annually in free agency according to Spot Trac.
The Bucs got under that number annually for the first year in 2022 with a cap hit of $8.16 million per Spot Trac. He has a cap hit of $18.16 million the following two years per Spot Trac.
Lots of Work Remains for Bucs in Free Agency
Tampa Bay has 18 free agents to re-sign going into Tuesday, March 15, which is the final day of the NFL’s legal tampering period. Teams can talk with potential free agents but can’t actually sign them until Wednesday. Notable remaining free agents for the Bucs include running back Leonard Fournette, tight end Rob Gronkowski, linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, and defensive ends Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston.
The Bucs also have another key free agent in the secondary besides Davis, who just re-signed, in safety Jordan Whitehead. A 2018 fourth-round draft pick, Whitehead came in the same season as Davis and produced 292 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles and recoveries, and 25 pass deflections in four seasons.
Tampa Bay sits in a tough spot to re-sign all of the aforementioned players at $14.7 million over the salary cap at this time per Spot Trac.