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March 22, 2013 @ 7:00 am
Current rating: 4.20 Stars/5 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 3-22

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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Why is Myron Lewis still a Buc? Is he part of the team's plans at CB in 2013? What were the multiple reasons why the Bucs favor Da'Quan Bowers over Michael Bennett at DE? Why could the Bucs still draft a DE at 13? Which playmaking WR could be an interesting first-round pick for Tampa Bay? Does Kevin Olgetree have a chance to be the No. 3 WR? Get the answers and more in this edition of SR's Fab 5.
SR's Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, Pewter Report publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place:

FAB 1. The Buccaneers traded away cornerback Aqib Talib, who had 18 interceptions in Tampa Bay. The team is contemplating releasing Eric Wright, who has 14 career interceptions, including one with the Bucs last year. The Bucs even let E.J. Biggers, who has three career picks during his Tampa Bay career, go to Washington in free agency this year on a cheap, one-year deal.

So why in the world are the Buccaneers keeping cornerback Myron Lewis, who has zero interceptions and only three passes defensed and has played sparingly in a reserve role in 28 games over three years with just one start? Lewis, former third-round pick in 2010, is widely considered by the media and Bucs fans to be a draft bust in Tampa Bay.

Lewis has seen his participation decline each year since he entered the league in 2010 when he was active in 10 games with one start and recorded nine tackles and three pass breakups. The next year, Lewis was active for 10 more games, but did not rise up the depth chart, and only finished the year with four tackles.

In 2012, Lewis only played in eight games before a hamstring injury caused him to be placed on injured reserve on December 10, ending his third season prematurely and in a disappointing fashion with just six tackles. Lewis saw action in just nine games, did not play in another and was inactive for three more during Greg Schiano’s first year as Tampa Bay’s head coach.

Lewis has missed time due to several minor injuries, such as hamstring strains, foot sprains and abdominal strains, but has also been a healthy scratch at times, too, due to lack of development as a football player. Last year, Lewis watched as he was leapfrogged on the Bucs’ depth chart by the likes of Brandon McDonald, LeQuan Lewis, Danny Gorrer and Leonard Johnson, an undrafted free agent.

So why hasn’t Myron Lewis been cut yet?

There are several reasons. First, the Bucs are desperate at the cornerback position. They need to be adding young, talented cornerbacks – not losing them. Lewis is young (he’ll only turn 26 on November 24) and he has talent. What he appears to be lacking is toughness – mental and physical – and confidence. Lewis missing the 2011 season opener against Detroit with a mild ankle sprain – after missing two preseason games a few weeks earlier with a hamstring injury – is one instance that stands out.

On the Wednesday before the Lions game to start the 2011 campaign, former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris lauded the toughness shown by Ronde Barber, who intercepted passes against Baltimore in 2000 with a cast on his hand, and returned an interception 92 yards against Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game with a partially torn knee ligament. Meanwhile, 30 minutes later in the Bucs locker room, Lewis was saying he would probably have to miss the season opener due to what he called a “little ankle sprain.”

“We’ll just go with the flow and see what happens,” Lewis said at the time when asked if he needed to miss the game to rest the ankle. “It’s a little ankle sprain. Hopefully I’ll be better real soon.

“Pretty much, it’ll be what’s best for me. I don’t want to go out there and put bad stuff on film. If I’m not able to go out there, I’ll give the [opportunity] to the guys behind me and I’m going to support my teammates.”

Due to a “little ankle sprain,” Lewis essentially opted out of the season opener and told the media that. This came right after Morris told the media during his press conference that a picture of Barber, the Bucs’ iron man, hung in the team’s training room as a reminder that the players are professionals and need to play through minor injuries.

“I think I need a little rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover by my side,” Lewis went on to say about his injury. “It’s part of the game. Eventually, I’ll get over that hump and then I’ll put forth that good effort on the field and show everybody that they drafted me for a good reason.”

The Bucs are still waiting. Yet he’ll get yet another training camp – one last chance – to prove that he can actually play in the NFL.

The second reason why he’s still in Tampa Bay is Lewis’ size. Schiano and the front office like big cornerbacks and at 6-foot-2, 203 pounds, Lewis is blessed with length and great athleticism. There isn't a cornerback with Lewis' size in the 2013 draft aside from North Carolina State's David Amerson, whom the Bucs aren't considering drafting because of his bad character.

Here’s what director of player personnel Dennis Hickey had to say about Lewis back in 2010 after he was drafted in the third round.

“Myron was a guy we always liked because he does have the rare length for a corner,” Hickey said. “He’s athletic, too. He’s not limited in that manner. He also has ball skills. He had better production as a junior and that’s where we first noticed him. We were watching D.J. Moore last year and we kept saying, ‘Who is this Lewis guy?’ You saw he was an underclassman who came back and had a good senior year.

“He has ball skills. He’s athletic and he’s long. He brings a lot of versatility and he can create some nice match-ups for us when we play against some of these bigger receivers. He’s almost 6-foot-2, and when you put him and Aqib Talib together you have two really long corners to supplement the other guys on our team that bring different things to the table.”

Lewis was a three-year starter at Vanderbilt and put together two very good seasons back-to-back. He totaled 170 tackles, 26 passes broken up, 10.5 tackles for loss, 10 interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

During his junior season playing cornerback opposite the more heralded D.J. Moore, Lewis picked off five passes, defended six more, had five sacks and forced two fumbles. As a senior, his production dipped a bit as he intercepted four passes and broke up eight more.

Hailing from Vanderbilt, Lewis is certainly smart enough to play in the NFL. And his physical tools and college stats indicate that he is capable of having a greater level of success than he has had over the last three seasons.

“Myron can be amazing with some things,” Barber told PewterReport.com before last season. “He has a skill set that even Aqib doesn’t have. He has long arms and long legs and he can track guys down the field unlike anybody on our team. Raw is not the right word because the guy can play. He has some development that he needs to do and he’ll do that. The best training that I know of is on the field and actually playing – not scrimmaging or practicing. I got good because I got a chance to play my second year. By the time I got to my third year I had it down. I look at him and his skill set will get a chance to develop quickly once he gets more of a chance to play. He’s already made some strides.”

What strides Lewis has made have obviously been behind the scenes, and have not been enough for an NFL veteran entering his fourth NFL season. Lewis did lead the team in pass breakups last preseason with four, but also gave up quite a few big plays in the passing game, especially in the final outing against Washington.

The final reason why Lewis is getting a final shot to live up to his draft billing in Tampa Bay is because he received poor coaching last year. Not just Lewis – every Bucs cornerback did. Schiano took a chance on former LSU secondary coach Ron Cooper and the move turned out to be a mistake as Cooper was often too quiet and not assertive enough, especially on the sidelines on game days when it came to coaching up technique and relaying adjustments to his defensive backs.

The Bucs will say that Cooper was allowed out of his contract to make a lateral move to the University of South Florida after just one year, but he was essentially fired. New defensive backs coach Tony Oden has NFL experience with New Orleans and Jacksonville, and will get his shot at trying to make a player out of Lewis because Tampa Bay sure could use a big 6-foot-2, 203-pound cornerback on the field on Sundays.

In order to win over Oden, Lewis will have to stay healthy and play with more toughness. Jimmy Lake, who was Tampa Bay’s secondary coach from 2010-11, was a big Lewis fan until he kept getting bit by the injury bug during the 2011 season.

“He actually came on really, really well [in 2010],” Lake said of Lewis. “He was fighting through injuries early on in training camp, [but] came on and played really well. We were excited about him and then he got injured again in training camp if you guys remember. His injuries in training camp and through the beginning of the season kind of limited him.

“So if you are injured, the next guy is going to play and if the next guy is playing better – Elbert Mack took advantage in the preseason. He played lights out in the preseason. He played probably the best punt coverage of anybody. You go back and watch the tape. He played better than Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber – everybody. So he leap-frogged ahead [of Lewis] E-Mack continued to play stellar for us in games. He had a big interception in Green Bay. I am going to play the guys that are making plays. I am not going to play the guys who were drafted high. It doesn’t matter.”

The Bucs’ front office can keep Lewis around for another year if it wants to. It doesn’t mean the coaching staff is going to play him if he doesn’t develop. And Lewis needs to put it all together very quickly and have a healthy, confident, productive offseason in Tampa Bay during the OTAs (organized team activities) to impress both the front office and the coaches.

“Having more repetitions has always helped me,” Lewis said. “The more reps you get the more comfortable you are. You get in a comfort zone and you are able to play ball and show your athleticism out there on the field and show that they drafted you for a reason.”

Repetitions have to be earned, though.

“Ronde told me he was only active for one game his rookie year, but the next year when he went out there and started he never gave the job back,” Lewis said. “Who knows? That might happen to me. I’m just waiting for my time.”

Lewis’ time is almost up in Tampa Bay.

FAB 2. By now, many Bucs fans know that I believe Tampa Bay made a mistake in letting defensive end Michael Bennett go to Seattle. I firmly believe that the Bucs need to be adding pass rushers – not letting them go. Bennett posted a career-high nine sacks to lead the team, in addition to forcing three fumbles, which was also a team-high.

While I don’t believe it was the right move, I can see what the team was thinking in letting Bennett go and inserting third-year defensive end Da’Quan Bowers into the starting role. Here is Tampa Bay’s reasoning regarding the left defensive end position.

Bennett signed a one-year, $5 million deal with Seattle. The Bucs obviously thought that was too much for the two-year starter. For less than one-fifth the price – a $752,512 in base salary in 2013 to be exact – Tampa Bay believes that Bowers can produce the nine sacks and three forced fumbles this year. The Clemson product had a career-high three sacks last year in part-time duty after missing the first six games of the season due to a torn Achilles tendon he suffered in the offseason. Given Bowers’ talent, it is reasonable to assume that he could produce nine sacks with more experience and playing time.

In fact, Bucs head coach Greg Schiano told the media at the NFL owners meeting in Phoenix, Ariz. that he believed Bowers could be a double-digit sacker, especially after notching 19.5 sacks at Clemson, including 15.5 during his junior season in 2010.

“He needs to be,” Schiano said. “He should be. That’s why we drafted him.”

Schiano and Dominik believe that the 6-foot-4, 277-pound Bowers has more potential and a higher upside than Bennett did and it was time to accelerate his development by inserting him into the starting lineup. The feeling at One Buc Place was if Bennett was re-signed to a multi-million dollar deal that there would be pressure to start him over Bowers to justify the investment.

That’s fine and dandy for the Bucs, but Seattle – the team that signed Bennett – doesn’t seem to care about that. They paid Bennett $5 million for one year after signing defensive end Cliff Avril to a two-year, $13 million. Keep in mind that defensive end Chris Clemons, who led the Seahawks in sacks last year with 11.5, signed a three-year extension last season worth $22 million, and he’s slated to earn $6 million in 2013. Last year’s first-round pick, Bruce Irvin, signed a four-year deal worth $9.34 million last year and is averaging over $2 million per season.

The Seahawks, who entered free agency with less salary cap room than Tampa Bay, have four starting-caliber defensive ends on their roster, yet can really only start two of them at a time (although Bennett figures to get some snaps as a pass-rushing defensive tackle in nickel defense, as he did in Tampa Bay). The Seahawks are spending a total of $18.3 million at the defensive end position in 2013 and there will be times when one or two of those players will be on the bench during games.

Why that couldn’t have happened in Tampa Bay with Bennett and Bowers splitting the snaps 50-50 despite the disparity in salaries is beyond me. Instead of having adequate pass rush depth along the defensive line, the most sacks any Buccaneer has gotten in a single season is 7.5, and that’s from the rookie season of Adrian Clayborn, who is coming off a torn ACL that caused him to miss 13 game last year.

With Bowers and Clayborn expected to start at the defensive end spots, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim is the top reserve, but he only has five sacks on his resumé, including a career-high four in 2012. The Bucs will have to draft another defensive end for depth and to eventually compete with Bowers and Clayborn, and that’s the other reason Bennett is no longer on the team.

Dominik calculated that Bennett has hit his ceiling as a professional, and is in position to spend a high draft pick – either a first- or second-rounder – on a pass-rushing defensive end with more potential this year. With Bennett, Bowers, Clayborn and Te’o-Nesheim on the team, there wouldn’t be room for another rookie defensive end. Now that Bennett is gone, the Bucs will have the room on the roster to draft another rush end.

The Bucs could be targeting BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah with the 13th overall pick, UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, or possibly LSU’s athletic Barkevious Mingo – although I don’t care for him and think he looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane too much. Or the Bucs could target SMU defensive end Margus Hunt, whom the team interviewed for over an hour at the Senior Bowl, in the second round.

So why would the Bucs spend a high draft choice on a defensive end when the team has a pair of high draft picks invested in its two 2013 starters, Bowers and Clayborn? The reason is because there is no assurance that Clayborn will be back at 100 percent in 2013 or that Bowers won’t experience a learning curve in his first year as a starter, and the Bucs will need another defensive end to fill out the roster behind Clayborn, Bowers and Te’o-Nesheim. While the team likes reserve ends Aaron Morgan and Markus White, both would be considered longshots and the Bucs could use better talent to the get to the quarterback.

Keep in mind that both Bowers and Te’o-Nesheim have the size to move inside to defensive tackle in nickel rush situations just the way Bennett would do in obvious pass rush situations. So even with Bowers and Clayborn being starters, Tampa Bay could justify drafting a defensive end with its first-round pick because of the flexibility that Bowers and Clayborn have to play tackle in certain situations. Given the fact that the Bucs play nickel or dime defense over half of the time, there will be ample snaps for Bowers, Clayborn and a first-round or second-round defensive end to replace Bennett.

FAB 3. If you are looking for a real wild card for Tampa Bay in the first round, how about West Virginia wide receiver-return specialist Tavon Austin? I wrote about Austin last November in a previous SR’s Fab 5 after his one-man-gang performance against Oklahoma in a narrow 50-49 overtime loss.

The 5-foot-8, 174-pound Austin, who had 14 carries for 103 yards in the first nine games of the 2012 season, ripped off a career-best and school-record 344 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 21 carries against the Sooners, in addition to catching four passes for 82 yards and returning eight kickoffs for 146 yards. His 572 all-purpose yards were the most in FBS history. He had not carried the ball more than five times in any game prior the Oklahoma game.

As I wrote last November, Austin juked, weaved and maneuvered around Oklahoma defenders like they were standing still. If you missed his incredible performance, check out this highlight video.

Austin, whose draft stock is on the rise, finished his senior season with 114 catches for 1,289 yards and 12 touchdowns, along with 643 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries. His 2,910 yards made him the second-most productive all-purpose player in the FBS in 2012.

But Austin wasn’t a one-year wonder. As a junior, Austin had 101 catches for 1,186 yards and eight touchdowns, in addition to 16 carries for 182 yards and a rushing score. He had 2,574 all-purpose yards in 2011, which led all FBS players that year.

Austin entered his senior campaign with six 100-yard receiving games under his belt, including a 12-catch, 123-yard, four-touchdown effort in West Virginia’s 70-33 demolition of Clemson in last year’s Orange Bowl. In 2012, Austin posted six 100-yard receiving games and has another two in which he had a 92-yard effort against Texas Tech and a 99-yard game against Iowa State.  Against Baylor in West Virginia’s 70-63 shootout win, Austin posted career highs with 14 catches for 215 yards (15.4 avg.) and two touchdowns.

In his four years with the Mountaineers, Austin racked up 22 offensive plays of 40 yards or more that showcased his explosiveness and playmaking ability, and that’s not including his special teams prowess.

Austin could immediately help Tampa Bay’s stagnant return game, which did not have a touchdown in 2012. The West Virginia star returned 97 kickoffs for 2,407 yards (24.8 avg.) and four touchdowns during his career, in addition to picking up 433 yards and a touchdown on 34 punt returns (12.7 avg.).

If you haven’t seen Austin play, do yourself a favor and watch this highlight reel from his junior season.

Austin made quite an impression on Tampa Bay head coach Greg Schiano when West Virginia was in the Big East. Against Rutgers in 2011, Austin carried the ball two times for 96 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown on an end around. He also caught eight passes for 67 yards and a touchdown against Schiano’s Scarlet Knights in a 31-21 victory. In 2010, Austin had six catches for 121 yards and a touchdown and a 46-yard end around for a touchdown in a 35-14 home win over Schiano and Co.

Schiano has great respect for West Virginia – a school he never beat while at Rutgers. In Schiano’s first draft, the Bucs spent two draft picks on two Mountaineers he faced while at Rutgers – linebacker Najee Goode and defensive back Keith Tandy.

Against former Bucs defensive backs coach Ron Cooper, Austin ripped LSU for 11 catches for 187 yards in 2011 when Cooper coached the vaunted Tigers secondary that featured cornerbacks Tyrann Mathieu and Morris Claiborne and safeties Brandon Taylor and Eric Reid.

New Tampa Bay special teams coordinator Dave Wannstedt, who employed Schiano while both were with the Chicago Bears in the 1990s, is also familiar with Austin and faced him when he was the head coach of Pittsburgh in 2010. In a 35-10 win against Wannstedt’s Panthers that year, Austin had two catches for 83 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to a 12-yard carry.

While Austin was projected to be a late-first round draft pick, an impressive showing at the NFL scouting combine where he ran a 4.34, which was the fastest 40-yard dash time for any receiver in 2013, in addition to a 4.01 time in the 20-yard shuttle, which was also the fastest among receivers.

Austin’s small stature might give some NFL teams pause, but he is just two inches smaller and a pound lighter than Philadelphia’s receiver-returner DeSean Jackson, and is four pounds heavier than Kansas City’s receiver-runner Dexter McCluster, who was a high second-round pick in 2012.

Austin’s playmaking ability is on par with that of Seattle’s Percy Harvin, who was picked with the 22nd overall selection in the 2009 NFL Draft. Although Harvin is two inches taller and 10 pounds heavier, he ran a slightly slower 4.41 in the 40-yard dash than Austin’s time of 4.34.

“I call him the Human Joystick,” said Goode of Austin, his former West Virginia teammate. “That’s my boy. I know Tavon from being at school with him and he took one of the hardest hits I’ve ever seen anyone take. He’s tough for his size, and he’s so fast. You can’t hit what you can’t catch.”

The Bucs have great size at the wide receiver position with all four of the team’s top four wideouts standing at least 6-foot-1, but what the unit is lacking is breakaway speed aside from Tiquan Underwood, the team’s current slot receiver. Austin would be the fastest receiver – and possibly player – on Tampa Bay’s roster, in addition to being able to create more mismatches in the slot with his elite acceleration and elusiveness.

Austin does nothing to help Tampa Bay’s sluggish pass rush, nor does he help the Bucs’ woeful secondary. But he is a unique talent that could aid the Bucs’ lackluster return game, help Tampa Bay’s offense become even more explosive, could give Josh Freeman a blazing fast target to throw to, and improve the slot receiver position.

Keep in mind that Mike Williams, Underwood and Chris Owusu are entering a contract year and the Bucs’ depth at wide receiver could be ravaged by next offseason. The only receivers under contract for 2014 are Vincent Jackson, David Douglas and Kevin Olgetree.

There isn’t another player like Austin in the draft, and if the Bucs like him (and I’m not sure if they do or don’t) and can’t trade down later in the first round to get him, then the team should stick and pick Austin if he’s deemed to be the best player available at No. 13. He surely won’t last past the 22nd pick in the first round when the Rams are on the clock.

FAB 4. In case the Bucs don’t land West Virginia’s Tavon Austin or select another slot receiver candidate, here are a few things you need to know about new Bucs pass-catcher Kevin Olgetree. A few sources familiar with the Cowboys think that Dallas isn’t losing much by Olgetree following new Bucs wide receivers coach John Garrett, who was Dallas’ passing game coordinator and tight ends coach, to Tampa Bay.

While Olgetree was timed at 4.48 in the 40-yard dash coming out of Virginia, that speed has rarely been on display as he only had three 100-yard games for the Cavaliers and only had three receptions of 40 yards or more with a long of 51 in college. Out of his 57 career catches in the NFL, only two have gone for 40 yards or more, including a 65-yard touchdown against Atlanta last year.

Most of Olgetree’s career production (57 catches for 730 yards and four touchdowns) came last year as Dallas’ third receiver where he caught 32 passes for 436 yards and four TDs. He only had two noteworthy games – a career-high eight catches for 114 yards and two TDs in the season opening win against New York, and a three-catch, 96-yard, one-TD effort in a narrow loss to Atlanta.

Olgetree has decent size at 6-foot-1, 198 pounds, and has experience working the slot. He will provide good competition for Tiquan Underwood, who had his own breakout season in his first year in Tampa Bay last year, catching 28 passes for 425 yards and two touchdowns. While Underwood needs to become a more consistent pass catcher, he’s a tick faster than Olgetree and had a 15.1-yard average last year, while Olgetree’s average of 13.2 yards per catch was slightly lower in 2012.

One more thing to keep in mind is that just because Garrett, who was Olgetree’s position coach in Dallas, will be coaching him in Tampa Bay doesn’t mean that he has an upper hand over Underwood. Olgetree has to learn Mike Sullivan’s offense and the Bucs’ playbook, and that’s something that Underwood spent last year doing. In fact, that may give the former Rutgers star a leg up on Olgetree.

Expect the Bucs to take advantage of a relatively deep and talented class of wide receivers in the 2013 NFL Draft and add another slot-type receiver to the mix to compete with Olgetree and Underwood.

FAB 5. Here are a few things to hold you over until the next edition of SR’s Fab 5:

• Some of the buzz at the Senior Bowl was regarding how dominant Alabama left guard Chance Warmack actually is. In a deep draft at guard that also features the talents of North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and Kentucky’s Larry Warford, not only is the Crimson Tide stud the best guard, some NFL scouts actually believe that Warmack is the best player in the draft.

In fact, one NFL scout recalled a conversation with a member of the Tampa Bay scouting department that suggested that Warmack was actually better than Davin Joseph and just as good as Carl Nicks in his opinion. That’s lofty praise considering both of those Buccaneers guards have been to the Pro Bowl.

• One of the reasons why the Bucs are hesitant to part ways with their first-round pick in 2013 in their attempts to trade for New York Jets Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis is not just because Tampa Bay wants to use it for a pass rusher or a starting-caliber offensive tackle. It’s because first-round picks come with five-year deals as opposed to four-year contracts that come standard per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

That’s a big reason why Bucs general manager Mark Dominik traded back into the latter part of the first round last year to draft running back Doug Martin. He knew that Martin would become the team’s feature back and he has him under a rookie contract for four more years before he hits free agency.

In an era where there are some player salaries that are rising and the salary cap is not necessarily growing accordingly, getting good players on cheaper, first contracts is becoming essential to salary cap management. Dominik knows this, and that’s why first-round picks are so valuable to him and the franchise. It’s not just about getting superior talent that comes in the first round. It’s also about securing that talent for five years instead of four.

• New Bucs wide receiver Kevin Olgetree and new receivers coach John Garrett are apparently joined at the hip. Not only did Garrett coach Olgetree in Dallas, he also recruited him out of high school to attend the University of Virginia when he was a college coach. Once Garrett wound up in Dallas, he once again recruited Olgetree to the Cowboys when the former Cavaliers receiver went undrafted and was an undrafted free agent. Four years later, Garrett again recruited Olgetree – this time to Tampa Bay.

What's a bit scary is that after all of that time together, Olgetree did not develop enough under Garrett to get drafted in 2009. And he didn't develop enough under Garrett to warrant a contract extension in Dallas, which was ready to move on with Dwayne Harris. Will the third stop together be the charm to finally allow Olgetree the chance to become a consistent, playmaking receiver? Or is Olgetree simply overrated?

• Former Bucs cornerback E.J. Biggers signed a one-year deal with Washington where he is reunited with former head coach Raheem Morris, who drafted him in Tampa. Morris is the Redskins defensive backs coach. Biggers made out fairly well for a cornerback that only had three career interceptions in three years.

The former Western Michigan standout signed a one-year deal worth as much as $1.5 million. Biggers gets a base salary of $635,000 with a signing bonus of $365,000 and a roster bonus of $500,000. He also has a $500,000 NLTBE (not likely to be earned) bonus in his one-year contract as well.

While Biggers’ inability to create turnovers and get interceptions, in addition to his soft coverage at times frustrated some, I’m sure there are some fans that wouldn’t have minded having him return. Especially since Tampa Bay has yet to upgrade its biggest need – cornerback – after two weeks of free agency.

Last modified on Friday, 05 April 2013 08:00

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  • avatar

    Update March 28th: Todd McShay predicts the Bucs will draft Tavon Austin in the first round. VTBucs, Raheem33 and I all agree with this pick (per our previous comments)!
  • avatar

    Regarding Fab 2, here's where I disagree with the point you're trying to make SR. You are speaking of pass rushers like they are all interchangeable parts. They're not. There is a difference between a pass rusher and a complete 4-3 DE. You made the point that Seattle now has 4 pass rushers while the Bucs only have 2. I agree with that. However, the Bucs will start the season with 2 healthy DE's and Seattle will start the season with 1...Bennett. On top of that, both Clayborn and Bowers are better than Bennett. Avril and Irvin are pass rushers but they aren't complete 4-3 DE's because they can't stop the run. Clemons tore his ACL this year and will start the season on the PUP so that leaves Seattle with 1 healthy DE to start the season. My point is that if I was in Seattle's boat I would have been all for signing Bennett. The problem with your analysis is that you didn't take into account that Seattle didn't have Bowers and Clayborn on their roster when they signed Bennett and we do. Teo'Nesheim is also a complete DE, just not a great one. Even if we had Bennett here splitting time with Bowers, that's half the snaps in the season that Bowers could have been on the field being more productive than Bennett. Having Bowers on the field full time makes our defense better than a 50/50 split between him and Bennett.
  • avatar

    @jeffauer, I completely agree that Schiano is switching away from the standard "a NT just has to eat up two blockers" scheme. He has said that defenses are built up the middle, and I think he wants another GMC in there to just disrupt plays and wreak havoc in the backfield. I would be 100% on board with that happening as well. Only one more month until we find out.
  • avatar

    rocketglass nailed why we shouldn't consider taking Tavon Austin, "5:38 pm My biggest hesitation about taking Austin is that he will mostly be running short and intermediate routes out of the slot." Josh has about the worst control of the hash area of the field as any QB in the NFL. It's no coincidence that all the receivers that do well with Freeman have HUGE catch radiuses. Freeman's lack of accuracy makes an Austin/Welker type (small quick) far less valuable to the Bucs then another team.
  • avatar

    Great article Scott. I completely agree with you about Tavon Austin. More and more teams are using players in the way Austin is (Percy Harvin, Randall Cobb, Dexter McCluster, Darren Sproles, DeSean Jackson). I think these types of players can really help an offense because they create mismatches everywhere on the field, and can really open up the offense. Are offense lacks a true breakaway threat at wr and with williams unsure to sign long term, austin could be a great complimentary option to v jax. However, i am aware that secondary and line help are more important needs for the bucs, but if we don't like anyone of those available at 13 I'd be ok with austin. Rather him than reaching for someone
  • avatar

    I don't like Myron's attitude. He is not a team player and he does not have the toughness to play NFL football. I don't care what he did in college. If he doesn't make a big turnaround in the preseason he needs and deserves to be CUT!!! Get Revis, make a deal with Eric Wright for nr 2 CB and make Johnson your Nickel, and we now are also solid at Safety positions. Goode is good enough to be an upgrade at strong LB or we can get a real good one with our third pick or grab Cabrerra, an all round TE there. We cannot depend on Gibson to play all game at DT because of his age, but he is a good backup there. We definitely need to take a DT with our first round pick! Get a great one and you won't need DEs to move inside. DOM found Teo Nesheim, he can find another backup DE to backup our Stud Strarters there. Austin has talent but is so small and light that he is likely to get banged up a lot just like our kick off returner who once made all Pro but could not hack it in the NFL due to injuries. Don't waste a first rounder on Austin! Use the no. 2 pick to get the best CB we can. But Scott you are right that we should never have let Bennet go!!! And your articles are good too. I just hope the Oklahoma QB is still around in the Fourth Rd.
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    My biggest hesitation about taking Austin is that he will mostly be running short and intermediate routes out of the slot. What is Freeman' s biggest deficiency? Accuracy on the short to intermediate routes so i don't think we would be able to utilize all of Austin's skills and therefore not making him as valuable as some other teams could and not worth the 13 pick. I still think that we should trade up to the 8-10 range to take whoever falls out of Milner, Ziggy, Jordan, Star and Johnson. We have the amo to do it and I think there's a significant drop off of not only talent but need as well. We need to be cheering for both of the guards, two QBs, and at least one but hopefully both Jones and Mingo to be drafted before us.
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    Since Myron Lewis , has good ball skills he should get out of football and take up table tennis so he can stay healty. I forgot, he may sprain his wrist .
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    I agree with you completely Toofamiliar. It's funny how all of the countless mock drafts predict which players will be chosen based on perceived need; but then in the same breath contend that taking the best player available is the optimum draft philosophy. Funny too is how the news media makes statements as to what the price tag the Jets have on Revis (now a reported 1st and 2nd in 2013) and what the Bucs have offered (1st and 2nd in 2014) yet no one is privy to any conversations between Dominik and Idzik. It's pure speculation that gets repeated over and over. Some people actually think that Dominik, or any other suitor for Revis, would make a deal without first being confident in the knee, Revis' desire to relocate and the salary demands. Do they really think any GM in this league or ownership who are smart enough to be one of 32 members of the GM/NFL Owner fraternity and to earn billions of dollars are stupid enough to buy a "pig in a poke"? How can anyone possibly think that the top CB in the league (if healthy ) is not worth a 1st round draft choice? Talk about a "pig in a poke" with all of the failed 1st round draft picks (especially here). I've come to the conclusion that the reason some fans (including me) enjoy the Draft is the excitement of the unpredictability. Trading for Revis before the Draft would take all the fun out of it. We would be forced to watch as the Jets draft Tavon Austin with our 13th pick and scream, "We could have had that guy!"
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    Scubog, I am right with you on this one. Our age and experience of past drafts helps us to see a clearer picture of the situation.
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    I believe and hope that Dom and the rest of this FO have the sense not to draft based on need, which some of you are suggesting we do. The teams that win consistently over an extended period of time are usually the ones with the most talent. One of the ways they acquire that talent is by not pigeon-holing themselves into taking a specific position. I hate to break it to you guys, but there likely will not be a CB or DE worth taking at the #13 spot this draft. Once Milliner, Ansah, Werner, and the big 3 OTs are gone, what do you want them to do? I want the team to take the BPA at a position that they have SOME kind of need at...which is how we arrive at Tavon Austin, IMO. I know some of you are thinking as WR as a non-need, but we DO need a guy to capably exploit underneath stuff when VJ and MW are well-covered. In games last season in which they were held in check, our passing game went stagnant. Austin would also instantly give us one of the most dynamic returners in the game today, along with an electric change of pace back for Doug. Aren't those THREE things we currently lack? Again, the best teams don't focus on needs in the here and now. Drafting based solely on need is for losers, because then you end up with players with a relative talent deficiency.
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    With not much at left at corner or DE at pick 13, I would pick T. Austin. We will be alot better off at corner now with our new safety tandem. SO I think its a no brainer, a perfect fit. This is what Gruden would call a "Splash Player" With Lewis maybe a restruct Wright and alot of rooks at corner
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    I too am apprehensive about giving up a 1 &2 for Revis, but realistically it could be a brilliant move given the receivers in the NFC south. Look at it this way, every other team in our division has traded first rounders recently with decent success -- atl with Julio jones, Nola with mark Ingram and Carolina has done it multiple times in the last decade. I will feel a lot safer with Revis locking down half the field with our safeties to help whoever the rookie corner is on the right side. As painful as it is giving up draft picks, Revis is a top 5 player in the league and the medical staff is good with knee injuries. Revis changes games and gives us so much flexibility on d. I think those of you who are justifiably anxious about compensation will be happy in the long run if we get him.
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    First off I don't think that we should trade for Revis but it looks like its already a done deal with the only thing left being the compensation. I know I'm in the minority here but I would prefer this year's number 1 and some late rounder than next year's number 1 and number 2 which is being reported. There are two reasons for this; first we would have to give less valuable picks this year since they want our second also next year. Secondly there's a pretty good chance that we will need a premium pick next year for a QB if Freeman has a bad year. Next year's draft is supposed to have better QB talent so there's a better chance to get a good replacement. If Freeman plays well and we resign him, we will be able to get a better talent with the QBs pushing other players down. If we trade this year's #1 for a great starting cb, pick hunt in the second, a NT in the 3rd, trade both of our 4ths for another 3rd and take either another cb or if we can get Wright to restructure then a RT and we still have our 5th and two 6ths to play with to get a slot guy and a backup RB. I don't see any other holes on the team after that. Next year we have a full draft and can spend our first rounder on either Freemans replacement or a RT that can become Penn's replacement. Once again i don't think we should trade for Revis but if we do, I would do the above scenario.
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    I agree totally that Revis is most definitely NOT worth a 1 and a 2 next year. I'm shocked to be honest that its even been kicked around. The Bucs should have set the table early with a 1 and a 4 or 5. I personally would give at most a 1 and a 3 and lose the 3 this year and the 1 next year as the absolute maximum compensation. I don't understand why on earth it's even perceived that the Jets have the leverage here. They're going to go into a rebuild without the picks getting rid of Revis will get them? Have an unhappy corner who wants to be paid through all of next season and get nothing for him at the end of it to boot? Give me a break. Scott has made a very good point concerning why Dom is pushing so hard for him and needs him to win NOW but a 1, 2 for a player who's coming off an ACL (I don't care about Peterson's story in this context) and is a free agent anyways next season? A 1 and 3 is plenty. I'd rather have made the same deal for Harvin even with the receiving corp we have over Revis if he's going to be that expensive. Anyways, we'll see. We're not anywhere close to being the Bucs of the early 2000's yet so lets not mortgage the future yet.
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    The free agent market was weak this year. I think Dom learned from last year and from signing Eric Wright, and not overpay for average talent. There were no top talent out there this year except Goldson. I will admit that not signing Bennett and Miller had me a little upset, but I'm sure the staff thinks that they have peaked. Looking at the depth at the DL in the draft, I felt that they can get better talent in the later rounds of the draft.
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    I feel that the Bucs will take the best player that they feel that is available on their draft board. Don't let all the analysis fool you with their boards shifting around. I'm sure the Bucs already have their top choice and is waiting on the draft to proceed. Smoke and Mirrors right now so anything you hear them talk about has no relevance on the draft. They can take a CB, DT, DE, OT, or TE with the first pick or just trade back and get more picks because the player they want is ranked lower than they want to draft him. I do not see them reaching for a player, I just hope that they can draft a player that can stay healthy.
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    Go Myron; i'd like to see him develop also; we may only need one more corner now . . . the bucs have picked up wr's and te's; you'd think the Bucs would be working to draft in other positions; but, this could all be smoke . . . !
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    Scott, this Article was mostly useless! Who cares about Myron Lewis or Bennett or Austin? This was the worse weak Article you have ever done. What the heck is going on with you? Your Articles use to be informative. You may be a nice guy Scott, but lately your news has been dull.
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    buctebow... I'm with you on that, . Trade for Revis and trade up to make sure we get Star ! Worry about next year, next year !
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    The more I read and think about free agency and the draft it just makes me wish that I had control instead of Dom. Not that I could necessarily do as well, but I would feel better knowing and executing the plan, instead of waiting to see it hatch painfully slowly. I really hope there is a good DT available for the 1st pick and that is what the Bucs choose to do....we really need a monster in there beside GMC, so the DE's that we have already can do a better job. I could understand an OT, or CB instead, if they were rated higher, but I want a DT.
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    Mark Burke from CNNSI- just posted his top 40 draft big board and he has Xavier Rhodes at 17 so looks like we can reach for him at 13th, lol
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    Scott- I love your conspiracy theories when it comes to the draft and how you have the Bucs totally going away from the obvious selections like corner, but lets be real NO Way the Bucs take a slot receiver with our first pick considering how pathetic our defense is and when we have SERIOUS Needs at Corner, DT, and DE No Way! Makes good water cooler talk and gives us readers something to talk about for another month, like I said before you can't write articles on how the Bucs will select a corner every time you mention the draft cause it gets redundant and boring for the reader so bravo on keeping our minds and topics fresh with your changing of pace. I'm interested to see how many loyal followers that will agree with you who in past articles loved the idea of getting a OT, and a DT with that 13th pick. I can't wait when the next mock draft comes out when you have us taking a guard with the 13th pick and everyone will be on board with that idea.
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    Scott thanks for pointing out how valuable top picks are to Dom. Forget the Revis trade if it requires a first round pick.
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    Great fab 5 SR! I would be as excited as I was when we drafted WD40 if we came away with Austin in this draft. I just don't get m Lewis and can't stand his infamous line about never wanting to put bad tape out there if he were to play injured. Well, he hasn't put any tape out there yet. Maybe it is a confidence issue and Oden/schiano can finally get him to play, but to me this is a classic hickey pick -- all about ht wt speed and looking the part. Please show something Myron. I'm very disappointed about loosing Bennett and miller and I can't see how discarding players who wanted to be here and bought in helps especially since they're trying to solidify as a team this year. Sticking to some salary cap formula seems to be way to extreme in their cases.
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    There is 0% chance the Bucs take Tavon Auston in Rd 1. Why? Because the Bucs have left themselves with the biggest holes on the roster I have ever seen a team go into the draft with. Who is the starting nose tackle? Who are the starting to nickle corners? Who starts for the Bucs if Clayborne or Bowers go down for any length? This will be a draft steeped in drafting based on need. The last time I remember the Bucs taking a player high where there was a gaping hole it was when the Bucs traded a 1st and 2nd to draft Kenyatta Walker 14th overall in 2001 over a host of players including Steve Hutchinson, Drew Brees, Reggie Wayne etc.
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    @Devasher-Your over exaggerating the situation. They don't have holes they in the defense Teo played when Claborrne or Bowers couldn't. Leanord Johnson is a good fit at nickel CB and they still have Anthony Gaithor. NT are a dime a dozen ( a fat guy that takes up the space??) Gibson filled in for that spot last year. The defense do not have "Holes" as everyone claims, they just need more depth and you can get that in the 3th-6th rounds. Bucs do not have a 7th
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    I doubt the Bucs draft a WR in the 1st round...but if they have a chance to get Austin, they should! I know, I know, this sounds counter-productive since the Bucs have a ton of needs on defense But no matter what we do to improve our defense, we won't be able to stop or defeat ANY of the other teams in our division...unless we can outscore them. That also means we need keep our offense on the field and the other teams' QBs on the bench. Picking up Austin and a good TE makes the Bucs nearly unstoppable. There will still be other options to improve the defense, but it is a QB league!
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    Methinks TB is going DT in the 1st round.
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    Star Lotulelei sure would look good next to GMC!
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    Amen to that, a-bomb!
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    Ive been on the Austin band wagon for months now/ Put hin in the slot between Jackson and Williams our offense would be unstoppable/ Plus he is a great return man . He upgrades 2/3 of your team /No other player in the draft can do that.
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    Myron Lewis makes my head hurt. The guy looks like the model for the ideal NFL CB. This has to be his last chance to make it not just with the Bucs, but in the NFL. I'm worried for him because I don't think you can teach toughness and confidence. The top CBs all have one thing in common - the belief that they are the best and usually the in-your-face attitude and confidence to tell you that they are. Myron's going to have to step it up big time in order to make this team. I wish him luck!
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    Austin is a BEAST! Guy is a homerun threat everytime he touches the ball!
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    I think Schiano is attempting a defensive scheme shift. Why else would they let to of Bennett and Miller? Even if you don't believe this, it is obvious Dominick is on the hot seat. The bucs have made enormous investments in interesting paces namely offensive guard and safety, these are not usually premium positions.
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    C'mon Sott, no way the Bucs draft a WR is round 1, not with the holes this team has on D!!!!! Training camp will be the last shot for Lewis. Its a smart, low risk bet for the Bucs. Biggers had his shot and didn't make the grade so made sense letting him go. Bucs have invested big on O last couple years O line, RB, WR. We've go plenty of weapons to compete and win. There will be WR's and TE's available as offseason and training camp rolls around. Offense will be fine with minor additions if Josh gets his head on straight.
  • avatar

    I like the insight as to why Myron Lewis still has a roster spot. For the reasons you have stated, I honestly would rather keep Lewis on our team and give him one last chance to develop than to keep EJ Biggers. Lewis has way more upside as Ronde alluded to. If this kid can stay healthy for one year I think he could help us out situationally. A nice long corner to jam Julio at the line would be appreciated. The fact is Myron is still young and has had horrible luck with injuries. Show them what you can do this off season Myron, start off strong and dont look back.
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