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March 7, 2014 @ 10:25 am
Current rating: 2.80 Stars/5 Votes

SR's Fab 5 - 3-7

Written by Scott
Scott Reynolds


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What did Scott Reynolds think of the Buccaneers' new uniforms and the way they were unveiled? What is SR's offseason plans for the Buccaneers? Who does he re-sign, who does he release? Which players should be signed in free agency and which ones should be drafted? Find out 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:

When I heard that the Bucs were going to change their uniforms this year my first thought was of the fact that I had just bought my sons new Lavonte David jerseys for Christmas, which is what they wanted. As many of you know, even youth replica jerseys sold on NFL.com aren’t cheap, so I immediately fretted over the prospects of having to buy them new David jerseys for the 2014 season.

Well I was wrong. Once I saw the new jerseys, which I – and a great deal of Buccaneers fans – think aren’t too attractive, I was thankful that I purchased the red jerseys when I did last December, realizing there was no way I would buy them the new ones – even if they asked.

Thankfully, they didn’t – once they saw the new uniforms. My sons, who are both elementary school age, asked me, “Why did they change the uniforms?”

That’s a great question, and one the Glazers probably didn’t ask themselves and others within the organization when they were contemplating the idea of updating the team’s look.

Have you ever heard that old adage that says don’t change just for the sake of change? That’s what this uniform and logo change feels like. Changing for the sake of change, and that’s not good.

The last time the Bucs changed their look was in 1997, and at that time, change was needed. Change was welcomed by the Bucs fan base with open arms because Tampa Bay’s dismal history consisted of a glory year in 1979 and a couple of winning seasons and early playoff exits in 1981 and 1982 – that’s it.

No playoffs or even a winning record in 13 years from 1983-1996, some really bad football, and some truly forgettable coaches and players is what Bucco Bruce and the creamsicle look had come to represent. The Buccaneers, who were dubiously nicknamed the “Yuccaneers,” played soft and looked soft in those orange and white uniforms with the winking pirate on the helmet.

When the new, fiercer pirate flag logo was unveiled and the team’s colors switched to red and pewter there was a great deal of positive fanfare. The Bucs looked bad-*censored* and began to play like it.

The new look was an immediate hit with a majority of Tampa Bay fans, and the new logo and colors were a hit nationally with the media, too. Only a small fraction of die-hard fans that were there from the 1970s resisted the change initially.

If the Glazers were hoping to recapture the glory and excitement of the 1997 season, which is when the team ditched Bucco Bruce and the creamsicle look for the red pirate flag logo and pewter helmet and pants, they’ve failed initially. The new look back then was met with so much celebration at the Tampa Convention Center as Hardy Nickerson, Mike Alstott, Trent Dilfer and Warren Sapp (if my memory serves me correctly) modeled the new uniforms in front of hundreds of adoring, applauding Bucs fans and the media at a big, public unveiling ceremony.

Curiously, the team didn’t do that this time around. There was supposed to be a public unveiling on Wednesday, March 5, but those plans were apparently scrapped when an awful lot of Bucs fans took to Twitter and Facebook and savaged the team’s decision to change the uniforms and unveil the new look on Monday after it had been released by the team on Buccaneers.com and through social media. Yeah, that worked out well.

I don’t care what your political persuasion is, the rollout of the Affordable Heathcare Act and the new government health care exchange website has been an absolute debacle. Right from the start the website crashed and was incredibly buggy, making it extremely difficult or impossible for Americans to sign up online for health care. Even the government admits that.

The Bucs’ rollout of their new helmet and uniforms unfortunately has been much the same way. The new helmets were debuted first, last week on NFL Network, and the picture of the helmet circulated to the media and fans on social media portrayed the helmet as black – perhaps because the picture was shot against a black background for some odd reason.

Immediately, PewterReport.com was flooded with questions via e-mail and Twitter interactions about the Bucs’ new black helmet and asking, “Are y’all going to change your name to the Black Report and BlackReport.com?”

Yet when Sapp and Gerald McCoy debuted the actual helmet on television, it looked pewter. Why the Bucs would even allow the initial look of their new helmet to be misconstrued and wrongly portrayed as black is beyond me.

Then the new uniforms, which were supposed to debut on Wednesday, are suddenly rolled out on Monday without any press conference or live modeling show. Once again, some genius decided to shoot the dark pewter helmet and dark pewter jerseys against a black background instead, making the uniform look black.

The words “epic fail” come to mind. A white background would have made the metallic pewter and the other vibrant colors really pop instead.

So once again, the fans were confused over the fact that the Bucs were incorporating black into their color scheme. Confusion is the last thing a company wants when it has a major rollout of any kind. Before the pics were released, didn’t somebody at One Buccaneer Place say, “Hey, these pics make the helmet and uniform look black?”

So once they debuted there was an initial, collective groan from the majority of Bucs fans on social media. To have the new Buccaneers uniforms bring the XFL pro football league back from the grave and have it trend in the top 10 on Twitter for a couple of hours on Monday was downright embarrassing.

Aside from the confusion over whether the uniforms were black or dark pewter, most fans hated the numbers, which look like a digital alarm clock and downright stupid. 98.7 The Fan’s Justin Pawlowski, host of the Fan Interference Show with Jim Lighthall, absolutely cracked me up on Monday when he took the Bucs’ #ItsABucsLife slogan and put his own twist on it with #ItsAnAlarmClocksLife.

For those that may be unaware, a Buccaneer is a pirate, specifically a pirate from the past … when there were no digital alarm clocks or likely any clocks of any kind. Trying to make the Buccaneers look futuristic and industrial, which was the stated goal of Nike and the Glazers, just doesn’t make sense. If anything, make the number font look more antiquated and lore-filled, as the only space pirate I know of is Han Solo from Star Wars.

Whoever thought pewter and orange looked good together side-by-side is mistaken in my humble opinion. Trying to merge two distinctly different looks – the creamsicle, Bucco Bruce look with the modern red and pewter pirate look – was a mistake.

Ditch the orange and keep the colors pewter, red, white and black, and change the number font and I’m guessing the new look would probably be more tolerated by fans. The Glazers should take the fans’ input and make those changes prior to the start of this season.

The result of a few tweaks between now and August could help increase the acceptance of the new look by the fan base and likely mean more jerseys sold by team. Or better yet, keep the new, redesigned helmet and pair it with the same uniforms the team has worn from 1997-2013 for an updated look. But don’t hold your breath, as the wheels are already in motion and millions of dollars have already been spent on the new uniform designs to turn back now.

There is a perception out there that the Glazers are out of touch with the Bucs fan base and have been for years, evidenced by overpriced tickets that have resulted in less than capacity crowds and only a handful of sold out games since 2009. They should have known that the vast majority of Bucs fans weren’t clamoring for, asking for or even hinting for this logo and uniform change.

The Glazers had a huge success on their hands with the previous logo and uniform change back in 1997. Why screw up a good thing? Just because Nike wanted to?

If that’s the case, the Glazers should have stood up to Nike and said, “No,” but that’s not the case. Ed Glazer, obviously the one at the forefront of the logo change, was a willing participant and accomplice. Were the fans even brought into this logo and uniform change?

Were there focus groups of season ticket holders – you know, the folks that would be expected to buy the new jersey and logo gear – even given the chance to preview the new helmet and uniform and offer constructive criticism and feedback? Probably not because keeping it a secret was apparently more important than getting it right.

Why didn’t they have a pick-the-new-uniform contest on Buccaneers.com and solicit feedback from the fan base? You want to talk about a real web traffic driver to Buccaneers.com or the team’s Facebook page where fans could have viewed multiple versions of proposed uniform changes and provided their feedback. That would have done it.

For Glazer to have to even say on a conference call with the Nike official responsible for this debacle, “The fans will love it once they see it in person” tells you two things. First, the team knows they screwed up given the immediate backlash, which certainly wasn’t present in 1997. And second, the Glazers are hoping and praying it will grow on Bucs fans over time as the team returns to its winning ways.

Yet to think that new uniforms will wash away the stink of the Raheem Morris and Greg Schiano years and will automatically trigger a playoff run as it did in 1997 is foolish. The Bucs didn’t win in 1997 because of the new uniforms. They won because Alstott, Sapp, Dilfer, Nickerson and linebacker Derrick Brooks and running back Warrick Dunn developed into very good players and it was Year 2 in Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 defense.

Over the past couple of years, the Bucs have made some big splashes with regards to player acquisition. They’ve signed Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks. They’ve drafted some Pro Bowlers and All-Pros in McCoy, running back Doug Martin and linebacker Lavonte David. They made a huge trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. None of those moves resulted in sellouts or did much to increase the pewter pulse.

The Glazers have switched coaches out twice times in the past three years, but this time it feels better and more legitimate with Lovie Smith at the helm. Yet what the Glazers do not seem to understand is that it’s not about the uniforms or the coach or even the players. It’s about winning. The fans will come back when the team wins again and makes the playoffs.

Landing Smith was a step in the right direction towards that goal, but his hiring alone won’t result in automatic sellouts. The Bucs fan base is too frustrated, disappointed and apathetic with all of the losing over the past few years for that to happen. Angering the fans by messing with something that didn’t need to be messed with – the team’s cool look – doesn’t help, either.

It’s a case of bad timing, too. Sapp made the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year and helped deliver a Super Bowl to the Buccaneers in the red and pewter uniforms. So did Brooks, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year. The red and pewter uniforms from 1997-2013 were actually steeped in rich tradition with that Super Bowl win, and three division titles – far more tradition than the old creamsicle uniforms ever produced.

The Glazers have a choice to make. They can listen to the fans and make some necessary aesthetic modifications to get rid of the orange-pewter combination and change the number font in an effort to try to make up for the mistake of listening too much to Nike, whose uniform redesign last year of the Jacksonville Jaguars was met with a similar “ugh” feeling, too. Or they can just ram this unwanted and unnecessary change down the throats of their paying customers and hope the new uniforms eventually “grow” on the fans as the team wins more games, which would be a mistake in my opinion.

What do you think they’ll do?

The multiple uniform combinations at the Nike-powered University of Oregon are actually recruiting tools for some high school football players. But the difference is that the majority of the Ducks’ uniform combinations look cool and appealing to their prospective recruiting targets.

The new Bucs’ uniforms don’t look appealing in the eyes of a lot of fans, and probably some NFL players, too. It would be a downright shame if the new uniforms would be deemed to be ugly by free agents who simply don’t want to look like they have a digital clock on their chest, and opt not to come to Tampa Bay in part because of that reason.

Then the new uniforms would be actually hindering the team’s efforts to win. And that is what Bucs fans really want – wins, not a uniform change.

So which Buccaneers will be around to put on the off-putting new uniforms next year? For the rest of this edition of SR’s Fab 5 I’ll be revamping Tampa Bay’s roster with my “Rebuilding The Bucs” offseason plan.

Head coach Lovie Smith has already hinted that he plans on overhauling the roster, and I’m guessing about half of the players on the 2013 Tampa Bay squad won’t be around by the start of the 2014 regular season. The reason is because Smith has only mentioned the Bucs’ 4-12 mark about a thousand times this offseason, meaning that there are a lot of players on this roster that contributed mightily towards that dismal record.

The first area the Bucs need to focus on is the offensive line, which was the team’s weakest link in 2013. Smith and general manager Jason Licht have both expressed displeasure with the performance of the offensive line and the corresponding price tag for this expensive unit. With the new salary cap set at $133 million, the Bucs have approximately $18.8 million in salary cap space the team could carve out some more space by demanding some players, such as linemen Davin Joseph and Jeremy Zuttah, to take pay cuts.

Joseph, who has four years left on his deal, is due to make $6 million in 2014. Despite really struggling last year with a staph infection and recovering from a serious knee injury that cost him the entire 2012 season, Joseph should be offered the chance to prove that an offseason’s worth of rest could improve his play. Force the 30-year old Joseph to take a $2 million pay cut to $4 million, free up some extra salary cap space and give him a chance to compete for the starting right guard spot.

The 27-year old Zuttah has had plenty of time to develop, and at age 27, he has likely hit his peak. I can’t figure if he’s better at center or left guard and whether he’s a top-flight NFL starter. He was inconsistent last year and not worth the $4.5 million he’s slated to make in 2014. Demand Zuttah cut his salary by $1.5 million down to $3 million and make him compete for the starting center spot or left guard with Carl Nicks, who is trying to come back from a second toe surgery due to a bout with MRSA last year and can’t be released due to salary cap reasons.

Donald Penn has been a durable fixture at left tackle since he entered the starting lineup in 2007, but at age 30, his played slipped last year despite entering the season in better shape than he was in during the 2012 campaign. Penn’s base pay increases from $5 million to $6.75 million in 2014. That’s too much for a player that struggled with stamina and underachieved in 2013.

The Bucs are said to be interested in Baltimore left tackle Eugene Monroe and Kansas City left tackle Brandon Albert in free agency. If that’s the case, it means they aren’t too interested in keeping Penn around. Releasing him would result in $666,666 worth of dead cap money, but would result in a cap savings of $7,416,667 for Tampa Bay and that seems like a good idea.

Parting ways with Penn saves a lot of money and gives the team three options to find a left tackle. The Bucs have said that right tackle Demar Dotson, who was the best offensive lineman in Tampa Bay last year, could be given the chance to compete at left tackle, and I like that idea. Finding another right tackle to replace Dotson would be easier and much cheaper than trying to find a quality left tackle.

Aside from moving Dotson to left tackle, the Bucs could pursue Monroe or Albert in free agency, or select a franchise-caliber left tackle, such as Auburn’s Greg Robinson or Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

One more player the Bucs might want to release is punter Michael Koenen, who is 31. Koenen also doubles as the team’s kickoff specialist, but pushing the kickoff line of scrimmage up five yards recently has taken away some of his values as touchbacks are now commonplace throughout the league. Koenen is scheduled to receive a $3.25 million base salary in 2014 and that’s too rich for a punter that ranked 25th with a 44.2-yard average and a 38.3-yard net, which ranked 26th in 2014.

The Buccaneers have a host of unrestricted free agents in 2014, but most of them are reserve players. Of linebackers Jonathan Casillas, Adam Hayward, Dekoda Watson, Jacob Cutrera, defensive end Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, defensive tackle Gary Gibson, offensive linemen Jamon Meredith and Ted Larsen, running back Brian Leonard, fullbacks Erik Lorig and Spencer Larsen, long snapper Andrew Economos, quarterback Dan Orlovsky, kickers Lawrence Tynes and Rian Lindell, cornerback Danny Gorrer and wide receiver Tiquan Underwood the only ones I would re-sign would be Lorig, Casillas, Economos and possibly Watson if he didn’t fetch more than $2 million per year on the open market.

The Bucs would be happy if Economos signed for less than $1 million per season, Lorig would re-sign for $1 million per year and both Casillas and Watson could each be had for around $1.5 million per season. That’s four key players on special teams, as well as a starting fullback, a starting long snapper and two starting-caliber linebackers on the strongside for under $5 million.

Cutting Penn and Koenen, and forcing Joseph and Zuttah take pay cuts would free up nearly $14.25 million in salary cap room. If Joseph and Zuttah objected to the pay cuts and were to be released, that would free up over $21 million of extra salary cap room (in addition to the $18.8 million) to help find their replacements. Let’s suppose Joseph and Zuttah opted to stay and reduce their salaries and those four free agents were re-signed, the Buccaneers would be entering free agents with approximately $28 million worth of salary cap space.

And the Buccaneers get to keep Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis, which is important in the pass-happy NFC South division – even at $16 million per season.

When free agency begins on Tuesday, March 11, the Buccaneers should focus on finishing the offensive line for two reasons. First, the line was the weakest link last year for the league’s worst offense.

And second, because it seems like the Bucs are inclined to give second-year quarterback Mike Glennon a chance to see if he can develop into a long-term starter. To accurately gauge Glennon’s abilities in Jeff Tedford’s offense he needs to be upright and have ample time to throw the ball. Without a good performance by the offensive line once again the 2014 season could be wasted if Glennon displays uneven play and the team is no closer to answering the questions about his game.

The team’s top target in my opinion should be Cleveland’s Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, who was coached by new Tampa Bay offensive line coach George Warhop last year. Mack was recently hit with the transition tag by the Browns, who have the right to match any offer he receives, but won’t receive any compensation if they opt not to. The transition tag is a one-year contract worth $10,039,000. Going after Mack in free agency would likely cost in excess of $7 million per year with a long-term deal, which the team could afford and have former starting center Jeremy Zuttah battle Carl Nicks or Davin Joseph for one of the guard spots. If the Bucs can’t land Mack, they always have Zuttah to fall back on for 2014.

Tampa Bay also has a hole to fill at either left or right tackle, depending on where Demar Dotson plays. While it may be tempting to make a run at Baltimore’s Eugene Monroe, Kansas City’s Branden Albert or even Oakland’s Jared Velheer, the Bucs may find some value with a player like Cincinnati’s Anthony Collins or Baltimore’s Michael Oher. Collins and Oher would come cheaper – say around $5-6 million per season instead of the $9-10 million per year that Monroe, Albert and Velheer might command on the open market. The Bucs would have the offseason and training camp to find out which tackle spots the versatile Dotson and Collins would best serve the team at.

The Bucs should also prepare themselves for the fact that Nicks may never be able to recover from two toe surgeries and that Joseph, despite a pay cut, may never regain his Pro Bowl form or play better than he did in 2013. Signing a guard in free agency might be wise, especially since Tampa Bay only has five draft picks in May as the result of trades for cornerback Darrelle Revis and offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.

Kansas City has two good ones in Geoff Schwartz, 28, and Jon Asamoah, 26. At 6-foot-6, 340 pounds, Schwartz is a mountain of a man and he played for Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier in 2012 when he was the head coach in Minnesota. Schwartz stole Asamoah’s right guard job last year when Asamoah was out with a shoulder injury and never gave it back.

Schwartz played some great football down the stretch in 2013 and the Chiefs want are expected to put the full court press on to keep him over Asamoah. The Bucs should pursue whoever the Chiefs don’t land – likely Asamoah, who will likely come cheaper and could probably be had for around $4 million per year. With him onboard, the Bucs would have four NFL veterans that could vie for two starting jobs in Joseph, Nicks, Asamoah, and Zuttah, who could provide versatility as a backup center to Mack.

Adding Mack, Collins and Asamoah gives Tampa Bay three potentially new starters in 2014 and revamps the Buccaneers offensive line for a combined $18 million in salary. With about $22 million in salary cap room left it’s time to focus on other positions on offense.

New Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht is familiar with Arizona’s speed receiver Andre Roberts would be a nice fit in Tampa Bay with a multi-year contract averaging $1.5 million per year.

Cardinals tight end Jake Ballard, who is fresh off a seven-catch, 75-yard season in which he caught two touchdowns in eight games is an intriguing player who would fit well in well with the Buccaneers. At 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, Ballard is a big, multi-dimensional tight end that caught 60 passes for 604 yards (15.9 avg.) and four touchdowns before tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl with the New York Giants in 2011, which caused him to miss the 2012 season and the first part of the 2013 campaign.

The Cardinals will likely offer Ballard, who is a restricted free agent, a one-year tender of $1.431 million, which would come with no draft pick compensation as he entered the league as an undrafted free agent. That could make him an interesting option for the Bucs, who might be able to land his services by offering him a multi-year contact worth $1.5 million per season.

Bears veteran quarterback Josh McCown, who has a history with new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith, would be a nice addition for a deal comparable to that of Jason Campbell (two years, $3.75 million), but if it takes a contract more similar to that of Matt Hasselbeck (two years, $7.25 million) or Matt Cassel (two years, $7.4 million) to provide a legitimate challenger for Glennon and depth at the QB position then so be it. Let’s say the 34-year old McCown gets $3 million per year.

Landing Roberts, Ballard and McCown would leave the Bucs with about $16 million in salary cap space.

Tampa Bay’s rookie class will command approximately $5 million in salary cap space in 2014, and the team will want to head into the season with at least $3 million of salary cap space, so the Bucs will only have about $8 million to spend on defense and special teams.

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman made $8 million last year, but at age 33, he won’t be re-signed. Tillman, who has 42 forced fumbles and 36 interceptions in his stellar 12-year career, still has a couple of good years left and could start in Tampa Bay. Signing Tillman to a contract worth $4 million per season seems reasonable and bolsters the Bucs’ cornerback position.

Tampa Bay could re-stock the defensive tackle position with 26-year old Vance Walker from Oakland, who already has five years of NFL experience. Walker has produced eight sacks in the past three years, but is more of a run stuffer who would challenge Akeem Spence for the right to line up next to Gerald McCoy. Walker has some quickness where he could serve as a backup to McCoy, too. Signing Walker for a deal worth $2 million per year seems doable.

The Bucs won’t have money left over to pursue a big-time pass rusher like Minnesota’s Jared Allen or Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson unless the team re-arranges its priorities, or decides to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis and free up $16 million in additional cap room. So the Bucs will have to rely on defensive line coach Joe Cullen to coach up young pass rushers like Adrian Clayborn, William Gholston and Da’Quan Bowers, and find some additional defensive ends in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Bears return specialist Devin Hester won’t be re-signed by Chicago after earning $2,940,856 in 2013. The Bucs could probably sign the 31-year old Hester for $2 million per season to spend the rest of the team’s available cap room, leaving $8 million left for the rookie salary pool and emergency signings during the season.

A lot of salary cap room was spent to address the Buccaneers offense, which ranked 32nd last year, during free agency, and rightly so. So when Tampa Bay is on the clock in May they can round out their roster with some impact players on the defensive side of the ball.

Here’s a look at what the Buccaneers could do in the draft to help address some needs on defense and grab a speed receiver. This is not an official mock draft as these are some of my personal favorites from scouting college players, not necessarily where I think Tampa Bay will go. PewterReport.com will have another official mock draft later in March after the start of free agency.

Here are the five players who would fit into Tampa Bay’s plans and fill some needs.

ROUND 1 – Buffalo DE Khalil Mack
Mack played outside linebacker at Buffalo, but he will be a pass-rushing right defensive end in Tampa Bay where the Bucs crave his ability to get to the QB (28.5 sacks) and force fumbles (an NCAA-record 16).

ROUND 2 – Wisconsin MLB Chris Borland
Borland uses his strength and instincts to overcome a lack of size (6-foot, 248 pounds) and has made a ton of plays (420 tackles, 17 sacks, 14 forced fumbles, three INTs), which is what Lovie Smith loves on defense.

ROUND 3 – No pick (traded to New York Jets for CB Darrelle Revis)

ROUND 4 – Oregon State CB Rashaad Reynolds
Reynolds is an ideal fit for the Tampa 2 defense with his ability to play man coverage and zone coverage and his penchant for making plays (29 passes defensed, 10 interceptions and three forced fumbles).

ROUND 5 – Princeton DT Caraun Reid
The 6-foot-1, 305-pound Reid can play nose tackle or three-technique in Tampa Bay and has seen his stock climb due to 5.5 sacks as a senior along with two more in the Senior Bowl.

ROUND 6 – No pick (traded to Chicago for OT Gabe Carimi)

ROUND 7 – Baylor WR Tevin Reese
Reese is an athletic freak with a 41-inch vertical leap, and the Buccaneers could use his 4.46 speed and big-play ability to help juice up a slow, plodding offense.

There’s also a chance the Bucs could trade down in the draft to acquire more picks, but that’s too hard to forecast. So at the end of free agency and the draft, here is what a revamped Tampa Bay roster could look like with 20 new players (in bold) and nine new starters (in bold italics) counting return specialist Devin Hester.

Quarterbacks – 3
QB Mike Glennon
QB Josh McCown
QB Mike Kafka

Running Backs – 4
RB Doug Martin
RB Bobby Rainey
RB Mike James
RB Jeff Demps

Fullbacks – 2
FB Erik Lorig
FB Lonnie Pryor

Wide Receivers – 6
WR Vincent Jackson
WR Mike Williams
WR Andre Roberts
WR Tevin Reese
WR Russell Shepard
WR Undrafted free agent

Tight Ends – 3
TE Jake Ballard

TE Tim Wright
TE Tom Crabtree

Offensive Line – 8
LT Anthony Collins
LG Jon Asamoah
C Alex Mack

RG Davin Joseph
RT Demar Dotson
G Carl Nicks
C Jeremy Zuttah

OT Undrafted free agent

Defensive Line – 8
RE Khalil Mack
DT Gerald McCoy
DT Vance Walker
LE Adrian Clayborn
DE Will Gholston
NT Akeem Spence
DT Caraun Reid
DE De’Quan Bowers

Linebackers – 6
WLB Lavonte David
MLB Mason Foster
SLB Jonathan Casillas
OLB Dekoda Watson
MLB Chris Borland
OLB Undrafted free agent

Defensive Backs – 9
CB Darrelle Revis
CB Charles Tillman
SS Mark Barron
FS Dashon Goldson
CB Johnthan Banks
CB Rashaad Reynolds
CB D.J. Moore

FS Keith Tandy
SS Bradley McDougald

Return Specialist – 1
PR-KR Devin Hester

Kicking Game – 3
K Connor Barth
P Jacob Schum
LS Andrew Economos

That’s a look at a possible 53-man roster complete with a few unnamed undrafted free agents that could make the 2014 Buccaneers at wide receiver, outside linebacker and offensive tackle.

If Josh McCown beats out Mike Glennon for the quarterback job and Borland beats out Mason Foster at middle linebacker there could be as many as 11 new starters in Tampa Bay in 2014. This might even be a very conservative take as I wouldn’t be surprised if the total number of new Buccaneers is actually closer to 24-28 new players and 12-13 new starters by the time September rolls around.

You can bet that the uniforms won’t be the only big in change in Tampa Bay this year. The Buccaneers roster will get a brand new look, too.

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

• If you don’t like the Buccaneers new uniforms there is a petition website that has been started. You can click here and add your name to the list, although I’m not sure how much good it’s going to do as the Glazers have already spent millions with Nike on the new look. The real way Bucs fans can protest the new look is to not buy the jerseys and continue to wear last year’s jerseys, but that’s up to each individual fan.

The Buccaneers are expected to have a private unveiling of the uniforms for season ticket holders later this month at the stadium. Not sure if it’s for all season ticket holders or just those that have club seats and luxury suites. Stay tuned. Maybe I will change my mind about the new uniforms once I see them in person as Bucs co-chair Ed Glazer has suggested.

• The biggest roster overhaul will likely come along the offensive line in Tampa Bay where Gabe Carimi has already been released, free agents Jamon Meredith and Ted Larsen may not be re-signed and veteran starters Donald Penn and Davin Joseph may be released as part of cost-cutting measures as neither 30-year old played up to par last year. Expect half of the offensive linemen from 2013 to be gone and to see at least new players in the starting lineup.

Last year, the Buccaneers had $31.695 million invested in the offensive line. Tampa Bay spent $55.787 million on offense as a whole, so the $31.695 million represents 56.8 percent of that allocated money. No team in 2013 spent more money on the offensive line or had a higher percentage of spending on the offensive line than the Bucs.

• The departure of Dennis Hickey to Miami where he became the Dolphins general manager last month caused a vacancy in the Bucs front office. Hickey was the team’s a director of player personnel and oversaw both the pro and college scouting departments.

Sources tell PewterReport.com that new general manager Jason Licht is now in charge of the pro and college scouting and is giving director of pro scouting Shelton Quarles and director of college scouting Eric Stokes the opportunity to not only prove they are worthy of staying onboard in Tampa Bay, but also getting promoted to Hickey’s old post. The contracts of most personnel staffers and scouts expire after the NFL Draft rather than before it, so don’t expect Licht to make any major changes until May. He may look outside the organization for Hickey’s replacement, but he will also consider how Quarles and Stokes handle the team’s upcoming business in free agency and the NFL Draft, too.
Last modified on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:18

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  • avatar

    I'm just hoping the Bucs aren't as bad as their new uniforms. I wonder if the uniforms will keep free agents from signing with the Bucs...."nice offer but your uni's are just too fugly, so no"?
  • avatar

    It's so refreshing seeing support for the new jerseys on this message board, great job guys! A petition pewter report? Really? Did you have one when we completely changed from orange to red? No. The red jersey above is by far the best jersey in the NFL. A nice bold move from Nike for a change. Much better than their soccer jerseys. Easily my favourite jersey ever. As for the numbers - it's about time football had a change with these, this is 2014. Also, there is no way we are waiting until the draft for a DE, way to risky. If its between Allen/Bennett/Johnson or Alex Mack then it's a no brainer. We will definitely be drafting a QB too - whether that's Bortles, Carr, Garroppolo or Murray we'll have to wait and see.
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    Scott the only thing we share in common about the uniforms is the curiosity as to why black backdrop to confuse . Otherwise I could not agree with you less. I'm a Bucs fan from 1979 and I love the new uniforms. I welcome the orange trim back. Orange has been a part of Bucs since 76 including 97-13. Orange has been a trim right next to the pewter pants all this time. People resist change especially when it's not really called for. I even heard a comment saying how stupid to have orange and red on same uniform...even though it's been a color trim since 1976! While I agree the dark black look would have brought a call to arms from me too...the fact that it's really the same pewter really makes all this about nothing. Teams have all kinds of fonts for a number so this is just different. There are several local media I've heard really like them. Steve Duemig, Ron Diaz and former Bucs Ian Beckles and Warren Sapp. Sure some don't like it but I just see it in action and it's going to be amazing opening day. In one year we'll forget all about the uniforms.
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    Petition? Of all of the issues for which we could seek to voice our displeasure, the new uniform isn't among my top five. And just exactly what do we think the result will be? I must admit I was taken back by the extent of the change since I expected only a little tweaking..........not a complete makeover. If I'd been a part of this focus group as I was in 1997, I would have tried to get it toned down a bit. But as some have said; I think NIKE knows a thing or two about how style will be accepted in the marketplace. After a while, if the team that is represented by this modern look is successful, people will flock to the stores to align themselves with the winner. Think that Seahawks wild "hurt your eyes" look is popular? Relax people, put that leisure suit back in the closet and keep up with the times. At least they didn't make the players wear over-sized pants that keep falling down showing their new brightly colored jock straps.
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    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. Top defensive free agent: Lamar Houston (toiled in Oakland could be this years justin smith) 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 Anthony Hopkins (great slot guy with crazy speed. I don't know who I like in the draft just yet.
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    Good article IMO.
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    Well Tampabay fans I have been on board with the Bucs since Day One. When the first uniforms came out I said Why these winky pirates that look like a happy Pirate not the tought pirates of long ago. Iam 68 yrs young and I think the owners have something on the positive side a new turn around in 2014 and beyond. I say Heck Yea! When I come down for my HB Plant 50 high school Reunion I hope to buy the new uniform tops go bucs. Another Thing why don't Tampa Bay trade down from 7 to no#10 or #14 or #15. If Tampa plays it smart they could have three starters with their #1 selection. Their 2 2nd rd picks. I LOVE DT AARON DONALD AT NO7 OR NO10 OR NO15.PICKUP A OLB WITH #38 WITH RD 2 AND TRADE DOWN THE 2ND -2ND ROUND PICK FOR A NO#3 AND GET THAT TE OR WR WITH THE PICK. AT NO#1(7) ITS 1500 POINTS. SO TAMPA COULD IMPROVED REAL QUICK WITH RD-ONE TRADE DOWN-GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Scott a very nice article when it kept to football. As a paying member I object to non-football content of all kinds. It has no place here. If you want to spew your opinions on non-football issues do it where we are not being charged.
  • avatar

    Scott, Nice Fab 1. I agree. I think they will end up wearing both the new and old uni's this year with the wacky new helmet. As for as the rest of the Fab 5, I am glad that is just YOUR plan. Chris Borland in the 2nd? Why on earth would you think they would want 4.82-40 MLB? So now the tampa-two feeds off a slow MLB? Foster runs faster than that and still can't cover the deep middle, what makes you think a slower player would be better at it? How about someone like Kevin Pierre-Louis out of BC? He had a 4.51 at Indy and 39" vertical. He could probably be had on the third day instead of in the second round. That is more like it. I think in the first, the Bucs trade down a few spots and pick up Aaron Donald. That guy could play anywhere on the line including back up Gerald McCoy. He would make a great left or right end. His speed and explosion is incredible. He ran a 4.68 official time at 285 and was hand timed much faster. Not to mention he was the best player at the Senior Bowl. Your plan for paying Mack $7M smacks of Mark Dominick. That is way too much money for a center. Didn't you hear the new GM talk about signing VALUE free agents? How is 7M for a center good value? Also, I loved your plan of cutting Penn and Koenen and freeing up all that money. However, I think the cuts to Zuttah and Joseph were not deep enough. One thing your article was useful for was pointing out how bad MD was at his job. Thank God he is gone!
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    Very well written Scott! There are some teaks I would do in Fab 2 thru 5 but your logic is sound. As for those of you who use Seattle uniforms as a comparison to ours need to expand that brain of yours. If Seattle's winning ways recently were reversed and they had records and all the issues in coaching we had you still think they would have those uniforms? The fans have come to accept them because they WIN! Now they will associate the wins and uniforms so it is a success. So now in the future say 8 years Seattle hasn't been winning and had similar debacles like us, do they "change" their uniforms like the Bucs who had success in theirs? IMO the numbers are by far the worst attribute and is where practical and ideological collide!
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    I think the new Unis will look great at night, and hopefully we will get some night games. IMO though it's the play on the field that will make watching the team enjoyable not the uniforms. I like Scott's assessment and revamped lineup as I think the poor play of the O line is what killed last season.
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    Personally I don't trust the Glazers as far as I can throw them. Since Gruden was fired they have systematically done everything to piss off the Bucs fan base. 2nd rate coaches, 3 years of zero spending on FA and now a change to horrendous uniforms very few will buy. The Glazers aren't stupid by any stretch of the imagination. So that leads me to only two possibilities. 1) They are trying meet the NFL criteria to move to Los Angeles or 2) They are trying meet the NFL criteria to move to London.
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    This personally would bother me the 2 most glaring needs addressed with a 35 yr old back up and a rookie. Epic fail. DE will be top target in free agency and we still could draft Khalil, but to think no qb in first 3 rounds is craziness. I'd bet 60% qb in 1st 85% chance in 2nd. Goodwork with OL though even though Mack is not work 7mil demand.
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    Great Fab 5 as usual Scott. The Glazers public relations has failed miserably these past few years; and now to change the uniform was so unnecessary. The real need was to bring back younger football fans by having a much larger area at reduced rates for teenagers and more of the same for youth. I have neither in my family, but I know enough that football will be hurting in the next few years pertaining to fan attendance. It is the Glazers fault that fans are gone. They really do not understand the pulse of this country. They have lost fans that will never come back to the stadium no matter what they do because those fans realized that they did not need to spend that money at RJS. Now you have even hurt the fan base worse with these uniforms. Like Scott, I spent a lot on purchasing Buc clothing and will where them just fine until they rot.
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    Attendance at Rayjay is up over the last 3 seasons....look at the numbers and number of sell outs. It's no coincidence the area economy is improving slightly each year too...the real reason for attendance. All the glazers have done is lower ticket prices..lower con session prices...and pay for tickets to put Bucs on TV.
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    Maybe when you guys are done with your petition, you can walk up to One Buc and slap a Glazer in the face with a hanky. That'll show 'em. Duel at Dawn!!
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    Is rather have Geoff Schwartz than asamuoh any day would all like to steal cinc's Mack and Collins .
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    this whole petition business is overboard and a waste of time...money spent and we're not going back...the uniforms are what they are and if and when the bucs get back to winning games and playing late in January, the uniforms won't be discussed...i don't remember any outlet mentioning over the past 15 months that new uniforms were in the works, which means that this was meant to be unveiled as a surprise, so fans wouldn't be included because they didnt want anyone outside 1 buc to know...like one poster said, nike knows a little bit more about these things that any of us do and seattle went through this a few years back and i saw a ton of those jersey's the past two years as they dominate the league...by 2016 there will be several teams following our change beginning with the browns who will have new ones next year...if the extra point can be talked about changing then Lord know's uniform designs and schemes can be changed and become new age...NOW can we stay focused on the most important time of the year before training camp begins...free agency and draft...get us some insight as to what is being whispered at 1 buc about free agents coming in to visit, i'm quite sure that these guys aren't REALLY waiting til monday to talk to agents, especially if present bucs have the same agents as potential bucs...get on your grind
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    The uniforms overall would not be horrible if the numbers were not so bad. In Nike's defense they do look like OLD alarm clock numbers, and maybe Dingus Glazer saw them as cash register numbers. Leave it to the three numbskulls to try to fix the one thing in the franchise that was not broken. And five years into the the rebuilding plan that we didn't have a strong enough stomach for, we're back to square one and overhauling the roster. Epic. And yes, great job, Scott.
  • avatar

    MC -- excellent points on the new uniforms I hope glazers listen to the fans. Personally I love pewter as a base color with red numbers (no orange).
  • avatar

    I love the the uniforms, looking forward to seeing them in person.
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    Yeah, the uniforms are hideous, Scott. However, let's start a petition on PR to get some *censored spacing in the comment section! PARAGRAPHS !!! This single line format is horrible web design. I purposefully do not comment, nor read the comments on PR due to this sad, pathetic design. And why do the newest comments go to the very top of the comments, this all but discourages people from reading and scrolling all fan comments? Also, can the visor guy wearing his Buc bedsheets for a cape on the message boards forum be cut? I sear he looks like he's waiting for a facial.
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    I look forward each week to your Fab 5 and you have done yourself proud once again this week. I am an avid Bucs fan and of football in general, but I think there should have been some kind of fan input before making such a drastic change. IMO the numbers that supposedly represent the bold slash marks of a pirates blade look more like something a 5-year-old running amok with a pair of scissors might "create". I know that I won't be standing in line or parting with $$$ to replace my Bucs gear. I'm sure that we all have our own vision of what changes we would to see on the roster this season and I found your analysis very interesting. Right now I'm anxious to see what the new regime does in free agency and then it might be easier to surmise what they might do with our draft picks. I hope we get some insight from One Buc through OTAs also. After the draft will be the agonizing wait for training camp and the pre-season to begin.
  • avatar

    Scott get with the program and update the logo on your sab 5.
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    If nothing else, just lose the orange. It just brings back bad memories. It's bad enough that the team sucks. Now the uniforms do too.
  • avatar

    OK. Since everyone on here is bashing the new uniforms I am going to defend them. For one, I love them. I think that it has a lot of creativity. I love the chrome grille and the outline of the numbers. I wanted them to use more black in these uniforms and although they didnt use black, the darker pewter is very nice. also, SR and all other buc fans are entitled to their opinions but i really think your overreacting. They really are not that bad. I believe because its different than what many fans are used to seeing that they are going WAY over the top about it. And as for the winning, that will happen. Lovie smith will bring this team back, guranteed. Hes the best coach weve had since John Gruden and the first coach since him that weve had that has taken a team to the super bowl. winning will happen. Im sure that im going to have a ton of fans tell me "im stupid", "I dont know what Im saying", "Im wearing pewter and red glasses", the usual, but I have the right to speak my opinion as well.
  • avatar

    I just don't care about the uniforms. Seattle's new look got blasted by the fans, but they sure looked good to me playing in February. The Bucs' play is ugly, can we get a petition for that? I'm looking forward to the overhaul in Tampa. I would start with the OLine. Good teams part with players a few years before their decline (Colts/Manning) and prepare for the next decade. We love you guys, but we need the cap space. Goodbye Penn, & Joseph. Hello 7th overall LT--or trade down for Lewan and try to recoup our 3rd round pick. SR's suggestion to go after Alex Mack is loved by all. BR did a great piece on the value of a Solid Center. Line calls help the QB; he can make quarter calls and half field reads. Glennon's not avoiding squat as far as pressure so he needs a solid line. If Glennon doesn't work then a solid line only benefits the new guy next year--Especially with a solid run game behind it. --I don't get the mass Kahlil Mack mock bandwagon. I understand he's a great player. And if we ran a 34 D, or didn't have to scheme our behinds off to keep him on the field for all 3 downs, or didn't risk him being matched up with a slot WO--he would make perfect sense. But he has to be a LB. Doesn't he? I don't see how a LT doesn't engulf this guy off the line. With Lovie's need to rush the QB, & RIGHT NOW, that just screams FA DE to me. And a top tier one at that. Think Simeon out of Arizona like--Johnson out of Cincy?? I'll be glad when we start making moves. All this guessing is giving me a headache.
  • avatar

    Great Article SR. I agree completely with Fab 1 and I would've been fine if you had dedicated very section of this article to it. They're that bad. As for the Bucs offseason moves from you point of view I agree with all of that as well, more or less. I like Mack but after paying all that money for Nicks I'm a little gun shy on giving that kind of money to an interior O-lineman. I also think Ballard is slow and was kind of a one year wonder. He can be shut down if defenses actually believe he can be a threat.
  • avatar

    Scott, you killed it man. Take Fab 1 straight to the Glazers!
  • avatar

    So let me get this straight...someone created a petition against the uniforms but not against Morris, Schiano or on-field product? Seriously?! Come on people.
  • avatar

    Scott, I very much enjoyed the Fab 5 article today. I completely agree with your assessment of the new uniforms, I feel that they represent a step backward for the team, the fans have every right to be dismayed over this new look. Hopefully a drastic lack of sales will cause a reversal of this poor decision. As to the possible changes coming to the team, I also agree that many changes are coming, very possibly including many of the names that you have suggested. I think that this is going to be a very interesting free agent/draft season. I can't wait for training camp, I expect that covering the team and reporting on the actions from there will be quite an experience. Thanks for the great Fab 5, enjoyed it very much.
  • avatar

    As to whether we like the new Bucs uniforms or not, we’re looking up the derriere of an expired canine. I phrase it this way because I’m not allowed to say we’re looking up a dead dog’s…….well, you know what! Since some of us still seem to be bothered by the change, I sought to do some unscientific research. I Googled “polls for Tampa Bay Bucs new uniforms”. I found about 20 polls, most of which respondents said they did not like the new unis. After I analyzed all the data, I came to this conclusion. There were over 1 million votes against and just 3 who liked them. The 3 were the Glazer brothers. Game over! My advice is to get used to the dadgum uniforms!
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    I swear if I didn't love this team/city so much that looking in as an outsider we would appear to be a rather whiny fan base. Grown men debating about uniforms and signing petitions? Give me a break. I am still waiting on an inside scoop regarding FA or what we will do with our #7 draft pick. We all have ideas on what the Bucs should do or who we think they will take but none of that actually matters. Getting insight into what our new front office is doing, especially considering they are not the tight lipped, media hating dictators that Schiano regime was, would be invaluable for the readers of PR to get a feel for. Unless NFL Network, ESPN, Pewter Plank, etc get it first....
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    People are talking about our ball club again, and that's awesome. As soon as we start winning the flags will be flying on cars again, jerseys, hats, and polos will be worn proudly around the city and everyone's personal opinion on the uniforms will be irrelevant. I'm a fan of the uniforms, but I'm more a fan of winning - and this uniform change has no bearing on what goes on the field - what it does show me is the Glazers are making changes, even if you don't agree with them, they are not afraid to move this club into a new direction and era...Hopefully its one with Lovie Smith at the helm, some playoff runs, a future HOFs, and Lombardi Trophy.
  • avatar

    Fab 1 has to be some of the most over-the-top sensationalist opinions about some uniform changes at its finest. Join the club of the millions of sport fans who are forced to buy new gear every single year b/c their team changes the jerseys, logos, manufacturer, etc. You wear the red & pewter and have an orange pirate, 90's redesign flag, or the 2014 look - you're still a Buccaneer and that's all that matters. It's about time we made some sweeping changes in our broken ball club that has failed to be relevant at all since John Gruden left.
  • avatar

    Went to the unveiling of the uniforms in 97 at the tampa center and as I remember it, there was great acceptance right away. There was no, it will grow on you attitude. They were well liked and everyone was ready for a change. It would have made a BIG hit with the fans IMO had they involved the fans. To have Nike design them was a huge waste of money as the poll says 63% do not like the new uniforms. The fans would have done a better job and all of the PR would have been great for the team. It is quite sad they got rid of the old uniforms. Years ago when they used the Orange and white I never purchased much gear as I did not favor the colors much, maybe a hat or two. When they came out with the uniforms in 97 I went right out and bought a REAL NFL Alstott Jersey for 150 bucks at that time. The last 17 years I am afraid to total up the money I have spent on Buc gear through those years. This new uniform will save me quite a bit of money as I will not be buying any gear in the near future unless they make some needed changes.
  • avatar

    I hope they can tweak the Uniform , i think if they went with the white pants and red top it may look ok
  • avatar

    The way the new unis were debuted was all wrong but they're an improvement over the Cardinals/Falcons ones we've had since 1997. And the old pewter pants are downright awful. Plus, no one can argue that the new logo isn't an improvement over the toothless, comb-over version we had.
  • avatar

    BTW, would've much rather read more info on free agency than your opinion on the uni's. Give it a rest Scott and come on out of the corner like a big boy. Could care less if the Bucs wore plaid as long as they start playing winning football. Had initial reservations at first too, but looking forward to seeing them on the field. A petition? Really??
  • avatar

    Great writing Scott. I am ready to grab my torch and pitchfork and storm the nike design department and Glazer mansion!
  • avatar

    I will trust Nike and their billion dollar marketing prowess to know what players, fans, etc will like and want. No one likes the Seattle uniforms when Nike rolled those out a few years back and now everyone is a fan. Nike does this for a living, none of us armchair QBs do. Whether you like it or not is irrelevant. I can guaranty that if the new look Bucs start winning and playing well those new jersey, polos, hats,etc will be seen everywhere in town. The goal of the overhaul is to signify a new regime, a new attitude, a new look about the organization. It doesn't directly translate to W-L but is important part of the overall message from One Buc. The Ra and Shciano regimes set us back plenty. I'm all for change and a fresh start. Now lets get back to talking about football....
  • avatar

    While I agree with a few of your FA ideas, especially Collins, Asamoah, Roberts and Tillman (Saffold's another OL with some versatility as well), really think you missed the mark on defense. Being that's been Lovie's trademark and he's repeatedly said that he needs a double-digit sacker at DE, don't think just adding Khalil Mack addresses that. Rather than invest 7+ million in Alex Mack (who is definitely the top C available), seems more likely that they would look to add a 2nd tier OL that has similar versatility at G/C to compete with Zuttah (maybe Velasco or Boothe) and use that savings to upgrade at DT and DE. Do think they'll take a look at Tuck, Allen, Griffen or maybe Wooten at DE and Melton, Starks, or Hatcher at DT. Think an excellent value/low risk signing would be Ziggy Hood, who seems really miscast in Pitts 3-4. Would be an interesting backup for McCoy.
  • avatar

    Uni's : What's done is done. I think the white version looks pretty cool. Just wish the number font was switched to the same as the practice jerseys. That looked "carved".
  • avatar

    Nice Fab 5 Scott!
  • avatar

    PS my Bucs rep said that the event would be open to all season ticket holders.
  • avatar

    This is the best articulated argument against the new unis that I have read. You have summarized what most of us thought but didn't have the space in a public forum to express. It is not being disloyal to express the opinion that this launch was a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". We had what many believed to be the best looking uniform in the league. From going to the exhibit at One Buc Place, the initial change in uniforms went through several iterations which were judged by focus groups made up of fans. That is why they got it right when they debuted back in the day. This time around, it was the Glazers and Van Thorne of Nike making all of the decisions, so it is no surprise that they did not have the pulse of the fans before they unveiled the new "digital alarm clock" unis. All the things they say they tried to capture in the new unis; tradition, Tampa, Buccaneer lore, seem to be an outsiders view and not someone deeply immersed in the area and its' traditions Great Job, SR!
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