As the curtain fell on the 2023 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers closed with a 9-8 record and a playoff exit in the Divisional Round. Looking forward to the upcoming 2024 NFL offseason, the Buccaneers face the imperative of fortifying their roster to mount another playoff push next season. Among the array of potential maneuvers, the Buccaneers ought to contemplate acquiring two standout players: Justin Fields and Jonathan Jones. These potential acquisitions can substantially elevate the team's competitiveness in the forthcoming season.

Buccaneers' 2023 Season

The 2023 campaign concluded with the Buccaneers clinching their third consecutive NFC South division title, a franchise record streak. Additionally, the team secured their fourth consecutive playoff appearance. This marked their lengthiest streak since 1999–2002.

This season was also the Buccaneers' first without quarterback Tom Brady since 2019. In March, the Buccaneers secured free agent quarterback Baker Mayfield, who subsequently claimed the starting position during training camp.

Tampa Bay commenced the season with a promising 3–1 start, but six losses in the next seven games saw them slip to a 4–7 record. However, the Buccaneers rallied in the latter part of the season. Winning five out of their final six games, they improved upon their 8–9 record from the previous season. Tied with New Orleans, they clinched the division title based on a superior record against common opponents. In the Wild Card Round, they upset the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, only to be eliminated in the Divisional Round by the Detroit Lions in a hard-fought 31–23 contest.

Offseason Considerations

As the offseason looms, the Buccaneers face pivotal decisions, notably concerning their quarterback situation and retaining key players like Mike Evans.

Retaining both Mayfield and Evans presents financial challenges. However, the Buccaneers possess avenues to create salary cap space. Notably, cornerback Carlton Davis, pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett, and wideout Chris Godwin are entering the final year of their contracts.

Offloading Davis could yield $6.3 million in cap space, while a post-June 1 trade of Barrett could save $5 million. Meanwhile, trading Godwin post-June 1 would result in $20 million in cap savings. Despite Godwin's prowess, Mayfield's rapport with Evans underscores the latter's significance.

Moreover, Tampa Bay must address its pass defense deficiencies, which ranked 25th in net yards per attempt allowed and 29th in yards surrendered last season. The inability to contain Detroit's passing game proved pivotal in the Buccaneers' postseason exit.

Here we will look at the two best players whom the Tampa Bay Buccaneers must trade for during the 2024 NFL offseason.

Justin Fields, QB

Securing the No. 1 overall pick via the Carolina Panthers underscores a pivotal decision for the Chicago Bears. Do they adhere to keeping Justin Fields or opt for either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye in the 2024 NFL Draft?

Should the Buccaneers fail to re-sign Baker Mayfield, then Fields becomes a viable acquisition. In that kind of scenario, the Buccaneers should seize the opportunity to secure him. Fields' utilization in Chicago has been suboptimal, with the offense failing to leverage Fields' strengths effectively.

In Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers would acquire a bona fide dual-threat quarterback. That's a profile seldom seen in their history. Fields' addition would catalyze a transformative shift in the team's offensive dynamics from the outset.

First Round Pick + Jonathan Jones, CB

Jonathan Jones, Patriots, Jonathan Jones Patriots free agency

The Buccaneers could explore trading Chris Godwin for a package comprising future assets, including a first-round pick, alongside a cornerback like New England's Jonathan Jones. Despite Godwin's consistent performance as a 1,000-yard receiver in 2023, Mayfield's preference for targeting Mike Evans has become evident. The Buccaneers face the reality of retaining only one of the two star receivers. As such, parting with Godwin could align with their strategic interests.

Executing the trade post-June 1 presents the most financially prudent approach, offering substantial salary cap relief for the Buccaneers. A future first-round pick would be a reasonable consideration for the impending 28-year-old. Yes, the Patriots may pursue a new quarterback in the upcoming draft. However, their pressing need for reliable pass-catching options is apparent.

By finalizing the deal before the draft and executing it during the summer, the Buccaneers could secure the re-signing of Evans and focus on acquiring promising talents. These could include guys such as LSU's Brian Thomas Jr or Oregon's Troy Franklin in April. Acquiring Jonathan Jones in the transaction would augment the Buccaneers' defensive depth, particularly in the secondary.

Looking Ahead

The 2024 NFL offseason is ripe with possibilities and strategic maneuvers to bolster the Buccaneers' roster. Acquiring Justin Fields would inject a new dimension into their offensive scheme. Meanwhile, leveraging assets like Chris Godwin for future prospects such as a first-round pick and Jonathan Jones could fortify both sides of the ball. They have critical decisions on the horizon regarding player retention, salary cap management, and draft selections. As such, Tampa Bay faces a pivotal juncture in their quest for Super Bowl contention. The offseason presents a canvas for transformation, and the Buccaneers must navigate these opportunities with foresight. Doing so would position themselves as formidable contenders in the upcoming season.