Bucs need to focus on defensive and offensive line help in free agency

Alex Okafor could give Tampa Bay's pass-rush a boost. Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports

Here are the moves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should consider when free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, March 14:

Sign a quality pass-rusher: The Bucs missed out on trading for Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett, and DeMarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah both got the franchise tag. After that, though, there are guys who could help the Bucs' ailing pass rush that produced just 22 sacks last season and won't break the bank. Alex Okafor had 4.5 sacks in 10 games before tearing his Achilles last season. Kony Ealy had three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in the Super Bowl, but just one sack in 15 regular-season games. Julius Peppers continues to play at a high level, producing 11 sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries at the tender age of 38 last season for Carolina. Might defensive line coach Brentson Buckner be able to coax his old Panthers teammate to come play for him in Tampa? There's also Frostee Rucker, who, like Okafor, has been coached by Buckner.

Sign a cornerback: Yes, the Bucs did just re-sign Brent Grimes, but they'll need another starter if Vernon Hargreaves continues to line up at nickelback. The Bucs allowed the highest completion percentage (66.9 percent) and most passing yards per game (181) last season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. They also allowed the second-most completions on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield. Robert McClain is interested in returning to the Bucs, but he wants more than a one-year deal after starting nine games last season. Patrick Robinson is not a lock to re-sign with the Philadelphia Eagles according to a source, and he had four interceptions last season and a pick-six in the NFC Championship Game. Trumaine Johnson had 16 pass breakups and is just 28, but he's likely to command a hefty price tag. E.J. Gaines has been very productive for Buffalo, but missed five games because of injury in 2017 and has missed 26 games over the past three seasons. If the Bucs can figure out what led to the benching of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl, he'd be worth reaching out to as well.

Sign a defensive tackle: The Bucs parted ways with Chris Baker after one season. Though Clinton McDonald contributed five sacks last season in a rotational role, he's a free agent. They need to help Gerald McCoy. Dontari Poe is 6-foot-4, 346 pounds and had 39 tackles and 2.5 sacks last year for the Atlanta Falcons. In 2014, he had 6.0 sacks for the Kansas City Chiefs. Sheldon Richardson is an option. He produced just one sack last season, but had 28 quarterback hurries, seven quarterback hits, a forced fumble and an interception. Beau Allen is a name to keep an eye on here as well and was a reliable part of the Eagles' pass rush, only missing one game over the past four seasons.

Sign a guard/center: The Bucs' ground game averaged just 2.9 yards per carry in the past two seasons, with the offensive line routinely getting dominated. They want tougher players in the trenches. Plus, Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith are free agents and Joe Hawley retired. Center John Sullivan would allow the Bucs some flexibility to move Ali Marpet back to guard, lining up opposite J.R. Sweezy, who missed the 2016 season because of back surgery. Justin Pugh would also be an option, but his injury history gives reason for concern. He missed the final four games of the 2017 season because of a back injury.