In a new feature on PewterReport.com, the future of impending Bucs free agents are predicted. Tight end John Gilmore is the first player to be featured.
After the 2011 NFL Draft manyTampa Bay Buccaneers players that are slated to be free agents had their roster spot impacted. In this new regular feature on PewterReport.com, the editorial staff will predict whether the impending free agent will be back with the Bucs in 2011. TIGHT END JOHN GILMORE
Gilmore, 31, is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when free agency starts. The 6-foot-5, 257-pound veteran tight end is entering his 10th NFL season. 2010 SEASON
Gilmore became the primary backup to starter Kellen Winslow after Jerramy Stevens was cut in mid-season. Gilmore was a quality run blocker, but his presence in the game was a signal to opposing teams that the Bucs were likely going to run the ball. Tampa Bay took advantage of that in the passing game late in the season and found Gilmore uncovered at times in the secondary. He caught 13 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown. The well-liked and respected Gilmore was a leader in the Bucs locker room and on special teams. CAREER UP TO THIS POINT
Gilmore, a Penn State product, has stayed in the NFL because he is a strong run blocker, much like former Tampa Bay tight end Anthony Becht, whom he replaced on the roster. The Bucs signed Gilmore away from the Bears in 2008 after six seasons for Chicago. Gilmore has been the Buccaneers' best blocking tight end the past three seasons. In his nine-year career, Gilmore caught 52 passes for 524 yards and five touchdowns. WHY HE COULD RE-SIGN
Gilmore could be re-signed because he is popular in the locker room and with the coaching staff. He also knows the offense and is a special teams contributor. However, there would probably have to be a rash of injuries at the tight end position in training camp for Gilmore to be re-signed by Tampa Bay. WHY HE COULD DEPART
The Buccaneers drafted two tight ends last April in fourth-round pick Luke Stocker and seventh-round pick Daniel Hardy. Winslow and Stocker are locks to be the Bucs' top two tight ends in 2011. Hardy will battle holdovers Ryan Purvis and Nathan Overbay - two former practice squad players – to be the third tight end on the roster. Both Purvis and Overbay are quality blockers, so one of them could fill the role that Gilmore had the past three years. PREDICTION
The PR prediction is that Gilmore, who will be 32 in September, will not be back with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay remains committed to going with a youth movement so that the team can grow alongside franchise quarterback Josh Freeman, who just turned 23 in January. A rash of injuries at the position could put Gilmore back in play for the 2011 season if he is still an unsigned free agent, but it seems like a long shot for Gilmore to come back to Tampa Bay.
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