Armed with more than $66 million in salary-cap space and determined to make Winston and an improved offense even more productive, the Bucs didn't settle on the first day of NFL agency for simply adding a much-needed No. 2 receiver.
Instead, general manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter sought and landed explosive playmaker DeSean Jackson, a lead receiver for most of his nine-year career, to pair with first-time Pro Bowl selection Mike Evans.
Jackson spent the past three seasons with the Washington Redskins, and at age 30 is coming off leading the league in average yards per catch.
In addition to supplying Winston with a deep threat, Jackson also is the type of receiver the Bucs desperately lacked: a speedy, game breaker capable of turning short completions into big gainers.
`'DeSean is exactly the type of dynamic playmaker we have been targeting," Koetter said, adding that Jackson brings a `'veteran presence nice and big-play mentality that fits in perfectly with our offensive philosophy."
Jackson agreed to a three-year deal worth more $11 million on Thursday, when the Bucs also signed former Washington defensive tackle Chris Baker and re-signed running back Jacquizz Rodgers and safety Chris Conte.
The other moves figure to help Winston, too, with Licht addressing a need on the defensive line, then retaining Conte and Rodgers, who led the team in rushing with running back Doug Martin sidelined much of last year because of injury and a suspension that'll extend into next season.
Tampa Bay is expecting to lose Winston's backup, Mike Glennon, to the Chicago Bears, despite having a 5-13 career record and not making any starts the past two seasons.
While signing Jackson was the club's top priority, the Bucs envision Baker making a difference, too, on a line led by one of the league's top tackles, Gerald McCoy. Primarily a run stopper early in his career, Baker's developed into an effective pass rusher who has 11 1/2 sacks.
`'He's a big, athletic player who has developed into a disruptive interior lineman over the past three years," Licht said.
Jackson, meanwhile, is a three-time Pro Bowl selection whose 8,819 yards receiving are fifth most of any player since he entered the NFL as a second-round draft pick in 2008. He spent six seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before moving to Washington and has 26 career touchdowns of 50-plus yards.