|Freeman's rubbing his hands in glee at the Bucs new additions. (Getty Images)|
The Buccaneers are coming out with their cannons firing in 2012 free agency: early Wednesday morning the team announced the additions of All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright to a class that already includes top wideout Vincent Jackson.
Nicks, our top-ranked offensive lineman in free agency, signed a five-year, $47.5 million deal according to multiple reports out of Tampa. That's a ton of money and it makes Nicks the highest-paid guard in the NFL, moving him past the Patriots Logan Mankins in the paycheck-size category. The deal reportedly includes $31 million in guaranteed money.
It doesn't hurt that Nicks played for the Saints prior to joining Tampa; any time you can put an elite talent on your own roster and take one away from a division rival, that's a plus.
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Wright was our 65th-ranked player in free agency, but is a cornerback who could really make a difference in Tampa Bay, depending on how the future pans out for Aqib Talib, who could face jailtime.
The Buccaneers were one of the worst teams in the NFL last season, losing their last 10 games en route to a 4-12 record. Expecting a monster rebound from them as a result of just three signings is a bit much, but Greg Schiano's first season in Tampa Bay should come with some heightened expectations because of the high-profile additions thus far the offseason.
In Nicks, the Bucs get a physical guard -- perhaps the best one in the league, too -- who will dominant on the line of scrimmage and keep quarterback Josh Freeman safe. In Jackson, Freeman finally gets a legitimate No. 1 wideout and one who really likes his quarterback. (Jackson requested a $55,555,555, five-year contract to honor Freeman, who wears No. 5. How sweet.)
Wright's a nice addition as well, but the Buccaneers still have some work to do on defense. They need to get some depth on the defensive line (one which will improve if Gerald McCoy's healthy), and there are still tons of concerns with the linebackers and the secondary.
But this is a pretty good start for Tampa, your (very early) 2012 offseason champions.