<
>

Buccaneers' top five key newcomers

After adding a new coaching staff and front office, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers embarked on one of the busiest offseasons in franchise history.

The Bucs were very aggressive in free agency and nearly half of the 90-man roster is made up of players that weren’t with the team last year. Let’s take a look at the five most important newcomers.

5. Center Evan Dietrich-Smith. He was signed as a free agent from Green Bay. Dietrich-Smith wasn’t a full-time starter until last year, but the Bucs see him as an anchor on their offensive line. At 28, Dietrich-Smith may be just entering his prime.

4. Left tackle Anthony Collins. Like Dietrich-Smith, Collins has spent most of his career as a backup. But the Bucs view Collins as a starter after giving him a large contract. Collins showed some signs in Cincinnati last season that he can be a solid starter. The Bucs are counting on him to protect the quarterback’s blind side.

3. Cornerback Alterraun Verner. He’s not Darrelle Revis, but that’s not what the Bucs expect out of Verner. They expect him to be the No. 1 cornerback in their new Cover-2 scheme. Verner’s career seems to be on the rise after he made the Pro Bowl with Tennessee last year.

2. Defensive end Michael Johnson. The Bucs think Johnson can bring the kind of output he had when he had double-digit sacks for Cincinnati in 2012. That would provide a huge boost for a defense that got very little pass rush from its ends last season.

1. Quarterback Josh McCown. He’s a career backup who the Bucs believe can thrive as a starter (anyone see a theme in this free-agent class?). McCown stepped in for an injured Jay Cutler last season in Chicago and thrived. The Bucs believe he can do the same thing in Tampa Bay.