The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished a disappointing 4-12 in 2011, but with a young roster and new head coach Greg Schiano in tow it appears the Bucs are making a big play for the playoffs moving forward.
Free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who is widely regarded as the top receiver on the market, is apparently all but set to join on with Tampa Bay, according to Tampa Bay Times Reporter Stephen Holder.
Jackson, who caught 60 passes for 1,106 yards and nine touchdowns last season, is an explosive deep threat with the physical build of a Randy Moss. At 6-foot-5, Jackson is one of the tallest receivers in the league, and he has the same type of top-end speed needed to bust the top off of the defense.
Jackson's big-play ability should be a huge help for the Bucs' third-year quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman was a stud under center in 2010 with many analysts even venturing to propose he may be better than 2009 No. 1 overall selection Matthew Stafford, a thought Stafford disproved in 2011. Last season, Freeman appeared to take a step back with just 16 touchdowns to 22 interceptions, although he did throw for nearly 3,600 yards and a 63% completion rate.
Many teams were reportedly in on the two-time Pro Bowler heading into the offseason, but Chicago's deal for Brandon Marshall all but ended the Bears pursuit of the talented wideout. Buffalo was also listed as a potential landing spot, given Jackson's close relationship with Bills' receiver Steve Johnson, but as the rumors continue to swirl it looks like Buffalo may have their sights set on the likes of linebacker Mario Williams and receiver Robert Meachem.
There's been plenty of buzz surrounding NFL free agency over the past few weeks, and just in the first hour there was already a number of big waves being made. Marshall's relocation to Chicago for a pair of third-round picks was the first to break, followed by Pierre Garcon revealing his signing with the Washington Redskins and of course the reports of Williams expected visit to Buffalo.
This is likely just the start of a flurry of moves anticipated over the next few days, as NFL free agency really picks up and the future of players around the league continue to be sorted out.