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March 8, 2014 @ 1:36 pm
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Pewter Report 2014 Bucs' Free Agency Preview: OL

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Free agency kicks off on Tuesday and PewterReport.com is previewing all the units and taking a look around the league at the NFL's best free agents and those that might fit well in Tampa Bay. In this report we look at the offensive line.
With free agency scheduled to begin at 4:00 p.m. on March 11, PewterReport.com brings you its annual free agency preview by position. Starting Monday, PewterReport.com will take a look at what Bucs will become free agents at each position, who the Bucs have under contract at the previewed position, then take a look at five players that could fit into Tampa Bay's plans, known as the Bucs' Best Bets. Today it's Tampa Bay's offensive, followed by the defensive line tomorrow.

The Buccaneers have two pending free agents in offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Jamon Meredith. Both, like most of the offensive line, had disappointing seasons in 2013. Bucs head coach Lovie Smith and Jason Licht both certainly saw it on the review of film from last season. Larsen played both center and guard at times last season as Tampa Bay tried several different line combinations to fill in for an injured Carl Nicks. Meredith settled into the starting lineup midseason against the Seahawks and did a solid job initially before inconsistency and some nagging injuries caused his play to suffer.

Right tackle Demar Dotson was easily the most consistent of all of the Buccaneers linemen in 2013 and could find himself competing for the starting left tackle position once training camp opens up in late July.

Center Jeremy Zuttah was a bit of a disappointment at both center and guard, giving up way too much leverage while pass blocking and not making a huge impact in the run game. His versatility is a plus but his scheduled $4 million dollar salary could be a factor in his future in Tampa Bay.

Starting left tackle and former Pro Bowler Donald Penn had his worst season as a Buccaneer in 2013 and many think the Buccaneers may look to upgrade the position via free agency or the upcoming draft. Counting $7.73 million against the camp (with base salary, workout bonus), management will have a decision to make.

Guard Davin Joseph, like Penn didn’t come close to earning his salary in 2013 and could, and was released on Saturday, clearing $6 million in salary cap space.

Nicks, a prized free agent acquisition in 2012, has spent more time in the training room and operating table than actually on the field. Tampa Bay is on the hook for over $6 million that would be owed to Nicks if he is released due to his toe injury and MRSA issues so they will most likely do everything they can to get him healthy enough to suit up in 2014. Word from One Buc is Nicks rehab is going well and that is great news for the organization and Bucs fans.

Tampa Bay has a handful of young developmental players in tackle Emmett Cleary, center Jace Daniels, and guards Patrick Omameh and Jason Foster. None have any significant playing experience.

The question remains, do the Buccaneers attempt to resurrect the current starting group to their potential or blow it all up and start over, which they started with the release of Joseph? The Buccaneers need much better play from the offensive line and could also use a youth infusion. At the absolute very least, Tampa Bay could use some significant upgrades as far as depth is concerned all across the offensive line. But most are expecting the Buccaneers to be active in free agency to address the line concerns and also add a player or two in the May draft, possibly even addressing it with their No. 7 overall pick.

1. Kansas City G Jon Asamoah
Asamoah was a solid starter for the Chiefs for much of the 2013 season before losing his starting role late last year due to a shoulder injury. Most grade Asamoah as a much better pass blocker than run blocker but has been a steady player during his four seasons with Kansas City. And at age 26, he is just approaching his prime. With the uncertainty of Nicks' health, the Bucs could choose to sign Asamoah to either replace Joseph or Nicks, giving them a bit of relief wondering who will be one of the two starting guards in 2014.

2. Kansas City OT Branden Albert
Albert’s name has already been rumored as a targeted replacement for Penn one free agency opens next week, but at 29 years old, it will most likely take a high-dollar contract to secure his services. Would he be a significant upgrade over Penn? The Chiefs drafted offensive tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick last year and will let Albert walk in free agency. Albert is a very polished, all-around tackle and could be wearing pewter and red next season. However, the Buccaneers will have to outbid what is expected to be a number of teams for his services.

3. Baltimore OT Eugene Monroe
Monroe, like Albert, has been rumored as a potential free agent target by Tampa Bay, but won't come cheap, however at just 26 years old, Monroe could be the five-year answer at left tackle for the Buccaneers. Monroe will draw plenty of interest in free agency by other NFL teams including his current team the Ravens, so signing him will come with a hefty contract. But the Buccaneers can cut Penn without any salary cap hit and apply that money to help lure Monroe to Tampa Bay.

4. St. Louis G/T Rodger Saffold
Saffold is versatile, and capable of playing left tackle and guard. His best spot might be guard, but because of injuries, he hasn't played a 16-game season since 2010 and getting a read on his future is somewhat difficult. Saffold’s injury history could keep his price down somewhat, but with the Rams desperate for offensive line help, chances are they will pay him a little more than he may find on the open market.

5. Tampa Bay OL Jamon Meredith
While Meredith’s play slipped down the stretch in 2013, he may be the toughest and most physical lineman on the Bucs roster. Meredith has played through an assortment of injuries over the last two years, including a significant ankle/foot injury in 2012, but was always able to suit up on Sundays. His versatility to play both guard and tackle is also a plus and the fact that it won’t break the bank to bring him back could mean the Buccaneers front office keeps Meredith in Tampa Bay.

1. Oakland T Jared Veldheer
Veldheer is thought to be the best free agent offensive lineman, but the odds of him being pried away from Oakland is slim, as the Raiders have a reported $60 million in cap space available and can easily afford to keep Veldheer a part of Raider nation.

2. Cleveland C Alex Mack
Mack is easily the best center in free agency and one of the best in the league overall, but after being designated as the Browns transition player – meaning the Browns can match any offer that the two-time Pro Bowler signs with another team – creates a limited market for his services.

3. Baltimore OT Eugene Monroe 
Monroe’s agent's phone number will be blowing up between Saturday and Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. with teams looking to secure the 26-year old tackle’s services. Monroe and Veldheer are considered the prized free agent tackles of 2014.

4. Kansas City OT Branden Albert
Albert will earn a significant paycheck next week once free agency opens with several teams most likely bidding for his talent at one of the most important positions on a football team – left tackle.

5. St. Louis G/T Rodger Saffold
The oft-injured but talented Saffold most likely will return to St. Louis who desperately needs offensive line help to protect Sam Bradford, or whoever lines up under center for the Rams in 2014.

UP NEXT: Defensive Line

Last modified on Monday, 05 May 2014 22:39

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  • avatar

    This is a great crop of FA O-linemen. I'd be happy with just about any of them. I don't know much first-hand about Asamoah since he's been in the NFL, unlike all these other guys.
  • avatar

    Whatever they do with the OL, it better work, because this is a running team for sure with the QB situation we have. I do like the idea of having Alex Mack.
  • avatar

    Top offensive free agents: Geoff Schwartz then Anthony Collins (big monsters that simply produce not underwear Olympians, and have been stuck behind higher drafted players. Shelley Smith would be a nice back up option (excellent run blocker and willie colon if he's willing to stay at guard. Top difficult to get: Alex Mack (it would be nice against 3-4 teams and he rocks at getting to the second level and glennon can't do anything when there is a push up the middle) and roger saffold who I prefer at guard and is great in the power run scheme but will have a lot of suitors ($). Lastly as a project, I think john jerry has the physical skill set to dominate but Warhop would have to get after him constantly and feel like he can provide the correct motivation for him.
  • avatar

    It's such a shame that going into last season, we all thought our offensive line was going to be one of the league's best.....now it's the league's biggest rip-off.
  • avatar

    Getting Mack as a Center would be perfect? Signing Meredith would be smart. This would make it much easier to decide what to do at LT. I have never been a fan of Penn and he caused his own problem by not being in shape year round. My goodness, why would any motivated player not stay in shape when you have a very limited time to make these millions. Cut Penn and use that money to get help get the McCoy contract done and draft an OT in the 1st round. One of the best three OT's will be there. New LT, Nicks, Mack, Zuttah or Joseph with a new reduced contract, Dotson, Meredith, Daniels, and a late round OG would seem a sound way to go. But again, I am usually more wrong than right.
  • avatar

    That's why at #7 take one of the top L.T.'s in the draft. Rookie contract for five years, as you see left tackles don't come cheap.
  • avatar

    As deep and athletic/explosive as the 2014 draft class is at Oline I would not be dissapointed in the least if a LT was the 1st pick & a OG was the 2nd. (Depending on who's available) Realize what that would mean for the cap over the next 3-4 years as well. Meridith is a keeper at his price. I honestly feel that Zutah's true value is as the 6th active rotational OL player on game day. He does several positions well, but NOTHING great. He's great insurance. I've read several posts saying Alex Mack is not worth 7 Mil a season, and I completely disagree. He could be the leader of a young talented OLine. He's likely the best Center in the league. Strong as an ox, with great feet, and the ability to make all of the line calls. A young (or dare I say rookie) QB's best friend.
  • avatar

    Sorry, but I'm just not that enamored by Albert as our LT, and with the money he wants I think he'll definitely be a LT, not a RT. If we can't get Monroe, I wouldn't be upset if we stuck with Dot and Penn (for at least one more year).
  • avatar

    Nobody on that list of FA's are going to be cheap. Will have to overpay to get these guys. Will have to cut Penn if they want them which is not a bad thing.
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