COLLEGE PARK, MD - OCTOBER 04: Defensive end Joey Bosa #97 of the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrates after one of his first-half sacks against the Maryland Terrapins at Byrd Stadium on October 4, 2014 in College Park, Maryland. Also pictured is teammate Steve Miller #88. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)
SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of inside scoop, analysis and insight from yours truly, PewterReport.com publisher and Bucs beat writer Scott Reynolds. Here are a few things that caught my attention this week at One Buc Place and around the NFL:
FAB 1. COULD BOSA BECOME A BUCCANEER?
Ohio State’s All-American defensive end Joey Bosa is regarded by some in the NFL community as the best player in the 2016 NFL Draft – not just the best pass rusher. But with Tennessee, which has the number one overall pick, looking to bolster its offensive line to protect franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota, Ole Miss left tackle Larmey Tunsil could wind up filling a bigger need for the Titans than Bosa could.
Most of the time NFL teams end up drafting for need, especially in the first round, instead of the best player available.
And because beauty is in the eye of the beholder in the NFL, sometimes the supposed top-rated player isn’t selected first. Sometimes Edgerrin James gets picked ahead of Ricky Williams, and Alex Smith gets selected ahead of Aaron Rodgers.
Tampa Bay’s biggest need is at defensive end, and that’s why you’ve seen Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence mocked to the Buccaneers – first by PewterReport.com and then by a host of other websites. PewterReport.com had Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah going to Tampa Bay in its first mock draft in early January.
Spence, who once played with Bosa at Ohio State before getting kicked out of school for testing positive for ecstasy, is one of the hottest draft prospects entering the NFL Scouting Combine. Spence had a redemption year at Eastern Kentucky where he recorded 63 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. He had a great showing for the South team in the Senior Bowl, recording a sack and several other quarterback hurries.
Ohio State DE Joey Bosa – Photo by: Getty Images
But what if Spence tears up the Combine – or his pro day – with a blazing fast 40-yard dash time? What if Spence runs a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash and Bosa runs a 4.8 on Sunday? And what if Spence erases all doubts about his past drug use and character concerns with sterling interviews in Indianapolis?
What if Spence really grew on Jacksonville head coach Gus Bradley, who coached the South in the Senior Bowl, and the Jaguars selected him with the fifth overall pick over Bosa? And what if San Diego, which uses a 3-4 scheme on defense, opted for defensive end DeForest Buckner, who played in a 3-4 at Oregon, instead of Bosa with the third overall pick?
Could Bosa actually slide all the way to the Buccaneers with the ninth overall pick? It’s not too far fetched if the top 9 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft goes down like this:
Possible Top 10 2016 NFL Draft Picks
1. Tennessee – Ole Miss LT Laremy Tunsil
2. Cleveland – North Dakota State QB Carson Wentz
3. San Diego – Oregon DE DeForest Buckner
4. Dallas – Florida State DB Jalen Ramsey
5. Jacksonville – Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence
6. Baltimore – Notre Dame LT Ronnie Stanley
7. San Francisco – Cal QB Jared Goff
8. Miami – Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III
9. Tampa Bay – Ohio State DE Joey Bosa
10. New York Giants – Clemson DE Kevin Dodd
The possibility of Bosa becoming a Buccaneer is not as far fetched as some might think. It’s happened before. Tampa Bay didn’t think quarterback Trent Dilfer would fall to the team, which had the sixth overall pick in the 1994 draft. A year later, the Bucs were shocked to see defensive tackle Warren Sapp slide to them with the 12th overall pick.
At 6-foot-5, 278 pounds, Bosa has the size and athleticism to play on the strong side or the weak side in either Mike Smith’s 4-3 or 3-4 defensive fronts. Smith and defensive line coach Jay Hayes prefers bigger defensive ends, and Bosa is two inches taller and about 24 pounds heavier than Spence.
Starting since his freshman season, Bosa has seen action in 41 games (37 starts), and his 26 career sacks rank third in Ohio State history. Bosa’s 50.5 tackles for loss are the fourth most in Buckeyes history. In fact, no other college football player has amassed more tackles for loss over the past three seasons than Bosa.
What makes the Fort Lauderdale native special is he is very good at changing directions at full speed during his pass rush. Bosa maintains ideal leverage when getting after the quarterback and has a powerful bull rush, in addition to a nice club-rip move.
Although he primarily played left defensive end, Ohio State moved Bosa around and he would also rush from the right edge and the inside on obvious passing downs. He is a very powerful tackler with a great wrap-up. Bosa’s strength allows him bring down big backs and big quarterbacks with relative ease. That’s important in a division with a 6-foot-5, 245-pound quarterback like Carolina’s Cam Newton.
Bosa is also a force against the run. He’s incredible at the point of attack in the run game, shedding blocks with great hands and power that comes from perfect pad level and strength in his lower body.
There is no doubt that a speed rusher like Spence would be an asset to a team like Tampa Bay that needs more talent at the defensive end position and needs a more consistent pass rush. But don’t fret if Spence is taken before the Bucs are on the clock with the ninth overall pick. It could mean that Bosa is still available, and he would be a steal for Tampa Bay.
FAB 2. BUCS EMBRACING CHANGE ON DEFENSE
Outside of an occasional blitz by linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, who combined for five sacks, the Buccaneers defense was rather predictable last year. The only thing that wasn’t predictable was which cornerbacks that Lovie Smith would start as the position was a ridiculous carousel, spinning out a new combination of players virtually every week for 16 weeks.
The Bucs defense was known as the Tampa 2, but that didn’t mean that Tampa Bay played Cover 2 all the time. In fact, the Bucs played more man coverage last year, in addition to Cover 3. But the Bucs’ front seven was rather predictable with Smith always deploying a 4-3 scheme and dropping the linebackers into coverage more than blitzing them. The ends and tackles would do some occasional stunting, but there was plenty of straight ahead rushing in the single-gap defense, too.
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
As a result, opposing quarterbacks completed exactly 70 percent of their passes for 4,072 yards with 31 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions against the Bucs defense last year. The Tampa 2 scheme made rookie quarterbacks look like veterans, and journeymen QBs look like Hall of Famers as the defense was routinely carved up due to a lack of consistent pressure up front and shoddy pass coverage in the secondary.
Tampa Bay did cobble together 38 sacks last year, which was the most since recording 43 in the Bucs’ Super Bowl season in 2002. But the pressure was sporadic, and the team did not have a double-digit sacker for the 10th straight season since legendary pass rusher Simeon Rice recorded 14 in 2005.
Smith inexplicably took over the defensive play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier last offseason despite Tampa Bay’s defense showing improvement down the stretch in 2014. That move would prove to be fatal for the former Bucs head coach, as his own defense would be his undoing and ultimately lead to his firing three days after the 2015 season concluded.
When offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter replaced Smith as head coach, he hired his good friend and colleague Mike Smith to take over as defensive coordinator. Smith, who had great success as Jacksonville’s coordinator (2003-07) before becoming Atlanta’s head coach in 2008, will use the 4-3 scheme as the Bucs’ base defense, but will run multiple looks on third downs and obvious passing downs. That means the Bucs will be dabbling in some of the 3-4 defense.
“In this day and age, because most teams are going to attack you with their quarterback, you’ve got to give the quarterback some different looks,” Koetter told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times this week in Indianapolis. “And anything I’m saying now is not a knock against what we did in the past because I wasn’t involved in that anyway, so I didn’t even really know. I think you have to be able to give the quarterback different looks and you’ve got to have everybody on the same page, whether you’re on offense or defense you have to have everybody on the same page. Your front has to be equally connected with your back end. So that’s what multiplicity is. It’s giving the quarterback different looks, affecting the quarterback in different ways and not enabling them to necessarily know what you’re going to be in every play. And again, is that in no way a knock, because I didn’t even know what we did. I know what it was categorized as [the Tampa 2], but that gets overblown.”
Bucs DC Mike Smith – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
Koetter went to great lengths to not throw Lovie Smith and the Tampa 2 under the bus when speaking to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine, but the fact that they are moving away from that predictable scheme speaks volumes.
A former Bucs coach told PewterReport.com in 2014 when Smith became head coach, “You can’t just run Tampa 2 in this league – not anymore. You have to mix it up to avoid being predictable.”
There is a reason why former Bucs disciples Mike Tomlin, who is the head coach in Pittsburgh, and Joe Barry, who is the defensive coordinator in Washington, run the 3-4 defense. There is also a reason why Denver used that 3-4 defense to stymie the league’s MVP, Cam Newton, and hold Carolina to just 10 points in the Broncos’ triumph in Super Bowl 50.
“We’ll be different some,” Koetter said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “As you know, we hired Mike Smith as our defensive coordinator. Smitty and I have a long history together – we were both at Jacksonville and Atlanta – and we have put together a terrific defensive staff. I think we will be a multiple team on defense. I think that’s one of the toughest things for an offense to go against so that’s what we’ll try to do on defense.”
Tampa Bay nose tackle Akeem Spence went by One Buccaneer Place to meet Smith and inquire about the new Buccaneers defense.
“My conversations with him were very brief, but the research I’ve done on him is that he likes to give multiple looks on defense,” Spence said. “Sometimes it’s a 4-3 and sometimes it’s a 3-4. He likes to change it up and add a little flavor to it. I’m very excited about that.”
Bucs NTs Clinton McDonald and Akeem Spence – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Fellow nose tackle and team captain Clinton McDonald signed with Tampa Bay in 2014 after playing in Seattle, winning a Super Bowl with the Seahawks. McDonald played in multiple defensive scheme under head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is now the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“In the NFL there are lots of changes,” McDonald said. “I’ve played in both schemes. In Seattle we played a 3-4 Under with the Sam linebacker down on the line to make it look like a Bear front. I’ve also played in Tampa and Seattle in a true 4-3 and get up the field and disrupt.
“I feel that with the wisdom of Mike Smith and the wisdom of Dirk Koetter they have their scheme for a reason. We as players have to adjust.”
Smith has said that the Bucs will primarily be in a 4-3 scheme in base defense, but on third and long situations and on obvious passing downs Smith will mix up the looks he gives opposing quarterbacks, using a 3-4 look as well as a 4-3 front with a myriad of blitzes out of both schemes.
There were several Bucs defenders that believed the Tampa 2 defense, which relied on all 11 defenders playing perfect, precise technique and being in perfect synchronicity on every play in order to work, was outdated and predicted. Those players, including Spence, are excited that Tampa Bay is catching up with the times and moving to a more modern, multiple scheme.
“The Tampa 2 defense, it’s a tough defense to play in,” Spence said. “They had success in that defense with Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp and those guys. But it depends on all 11 guys doing their job perfectly at the same time, all the time – down in and down out. This is the NFL, and that’s hard to do. Guys are going to make mistakes. It was predictable. It’s time for a change, and change is rarely a bad thing.”
FAB 3. WHICH BUCS DEFENDERS FIT IN A 3-4 DEFENSIVE SCHEME?
Just because Tampa Bay will be deploying a 3-4 scheme on passing downs and third-and-long situations, don’t look for the Bucs to start drafting extra linebackers.
The ideal thing to do would be to use a 4-3 defensive end like Jacquies Smith or Howard Jones in a stand-up, outside linebacker role rushing off the edge opposite Bruce Carter or Lavonte David and with the other linebacker moving inside next to Kwon Alexander. That weakside defensive end/outside linebacker position is also known as the “Buck,” “Elephant” or “Leo.”
The Bucs will likely draft a defensive end – possibly Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence – that can rush from a three-point and two-point stance in this year’s draft to give the team another possibility at the Leo position.
So what about the nose tackle position? The Bucs don’t have a massive, 350-pounder who can line up over the center in a 3-4 scheme and draw a double team.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith likely won’t be deploying a 3-4 Under scheme in second-and-short situations or other obvious running downs. Instead, he’ll use it on passing downs, and a player like Akeem Spence is certainly strong enough to push the pocket from the middle – even if he’s about 40 pounds lighter than the likes of legendary nose tackles, such as Tony Sirgusa, Ted Washington and Vince Wilfork.
Seahawks 4-3 Under front
The three primary fronts I think you’ll see from Smith are the 4-3 Under scheme, which former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and head coach Tony Dungy brought to Tampa Bay and used in 1996 and 1997, the 4-3 Over scheme and the 3-4 Under scheme. Seattle uses all three fronts with great regularity and success.
The 4-3 Under scheme featured a five-man line consisting of bringing the Sam linebacker down to the line to line up outside of the tight end. The Will linebacker and under tackle playing the three-technique tackle were lined up together away from the tight end.
Seahawks 4-3 Under front variant
There is also a 4-3 Under scheme variant in which the Will linebacker and Sam linebacker swap positions to create matchup problems and confuse quarterbacks and offensive linemen.
The 4-3 Over front, which Kiffin switched to after the 1997 season and used with greater regularity, saw the Sam linebacker move off the line of scrimmage back to the linebacker level. The weakside linebacker remained on the weak side, but the three-technique tackle moved to the strong side and played the outside shoulder of the guard on the tight end side.
Seahawks 4-3 Over front
The 3-4 Under front features a nose tackle lined head up over the center with two defensive ends (one is usually manned by the three-technique defensive tackle) lined head up over the offensive tackles. The Leo position is typically in a two-point stance lined up opposite the Will linebacker. This is the scheme that Denver regularly used with Von Miller (Will) and DeMarcus Ware (Leo) to beat Cam Newton and the Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
The big question is whether the Bucs have the personnel to pull off all of these multiple looks. PewterReport.com has evaluated the ends, tackles and linebackers on Tampa Bay’s current roster and offers its analysis as to how many Bucs defenders are ideal or good fits in the new schemes.
Seahawks 3-4 Under front
BUCS DEFENSIVE ENDS
DE Will Gholston – 6-6, 281 – Ideal fit
Gholston enters his contract year coming off his best season with 67 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Perhaps the most versatile defensive lineman in Tampa Bay, Gholston is capable of playing defensive tackle or end in a 4-3 and has ideal size to play the 5-techique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Smith loves big defensive linemen and Gholston is a physical specimen. He’s an ideal fit for what Smith wants to do, so expect Gholston to fit heavy into the rotation because of his versatility.
DE Jacquies Smith – 6-2, 260 – Ideal fit
Tampa Bay’s most productive pass rusher not named Gerald McCoy, Smith has recorded 13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries in his two years with the Bucs. Injuries cost him four games and parts of two others, but Smith, who was the team’s starting right end, still had 22 tackles, seven sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and a touchdown. Smith, who is an exclusive rights free agent and will receive a tender offer from the team, can play defensive end in a 4-3 and also projects as a rush linebacker (Leo) off the edge in a 3-4 scheme.
DE Howard Jones – 6-4, 248 – Good fit
Jones had 14 tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for a touchdown during his rookie year. Jones is a one-dimensional player and is likely a situational pass rusher in Smith’s scheme, either as a weakside 4-3 defensive end or as a 3-4 outside linebacker (Leo) in pass-rushing situations.
DE Kourtnei Brown – 6-4, 253 – Good fit
Brown played outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme in Houston before coming to Tampa Bay and exceled in the preseason where he recorded multiple sacks as a pass rusher, and also had a pick-six dropping into coverage as a linebacker. Brown’s size, speed, range and experience in the 3-4 make him a training camp wild card and could give him an edge when it comes to securing a roster spot in August.
DE Cliff Matthews – 6-4, 268 – Possible fit
Matthews, a newcomer who spent the last four years in Atlanta as a reserve, only has 28 career tackles. He came from South Carolina, which ran both a 3-4 and a 4-3 scheme during his time with the Gamecocks, which gives him experience playing in a multiple defensive front. Matthews’ experience with Smith helps his cause, but his lack of production, especially rushing the passer, creates questions.
DE Olatunji Fatinikun – 6-2, 250 – Possible fit
Fatinikun is coming off a torn ACL, but used his time on injured reserve to hit the weight room and get stronger, especially in the upper body. Fatinikun is an undersized speed rusher who is like a situational pass rusher as a 4-3 defensive end or as a 3-4 rush linebacker coming off the edge. When healthy, Fatinikun is among the fastest defensive linemen, but do the Bucs have the same player in Jones?
DE George Johnson – 6-4, 265 – Not a good fit
Johnson was a bust last year in Tampa Bay as he lost his starting job halfway through the year and didn’t notch a sack. Johnson did record 23 tackles, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, but is limited to just playing defensive end in a 4-3 scheme and he’s not a quick-twitch athlete. His lack of versatility, lack of pass rush ability and his salary ($2 million) don’t help his chances with the Bucs this year.
DE Martin Ifedi – 6-3, 275 – Not a good fit
Ifedi, who was on the Bucs’ practice squad last year, set the Memphis school record with 22.5 career sacks, but is not a quick-twitch athlete. He’s a high-motor player that has experience in both a 4-3 and a 3-4 scheme in college, but doesn’t have the size to play a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL, nor does he have the speed to play outside linebacker as the Leo. He’s likely pigeonholed as a 4-3 defensive end, which doesn’t help his chances of staying in Tampa Bay.
DE Jermauria Rasco – 6-3, 252 – Not a good fit
Rasco, a first-year player, played with Alexander at LSU and was a marginal pass rusher despite having a good burst off the edge. Rasco wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which speaks to his lack of elite athleticism and likely hurts his chances of becoming a 3-4 stand-up rush linebacker. Rasco is better suited as a 4-3 defensive end, which limits his versatility.
Larry English has some experience playing outside linebacker for years in San Diego in a 3-4 scheme, but he is an unrestricted free agent and will not be re-signed.
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
BUCS DEFENSIVE TACKLES
DT Gerald McCoy – 6-4, 300 – Ideal fit
At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, McCoy has the size and strength to play the three-technique in a 4-3 scheme, a position that has made him a three-time Pro Bowler, or a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Playing in both schemes would allow Smith the opportunity to seek the best match-up for McCoy, which could be either guard in a 4-3 or either tackle in a 3-4 defense.
DT Akeem Spence – 6-1, 307 – Ideal fit
Spence has developed into a starting-caliber nose tackle in his three years with the Bucs. He enters a contract season coming off a year in which an offseason back injury and a sprained ankle limited him to 11 tackles and one sack. But Spence had 39 tackles and three sacks in 2014 in which he played in all 16 games. Spence is one of the strongest players on the team and can hold up well against double teams as a one-technique tackle in a 4-3 or a pure nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme despite his lack of size at 307 pounds.
DT Clinton McDonald – 6-2, 297 – Good fit
McDonald, who is coming off a torn pectoral, plays well against the run as a 4-3 nose tackle, but is undersized to play defensive end or nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. McDonald is valued for his work ethic and leadership ability as much as his on-field talent, so he has value as a one-dimensional nose tackle, but will be in for a training camp fight with Spence for the right to start next to McCoy in Smith’s 4-3 defensive front. McDonald played in a multiple type defense in Seattle, so he’s familiar with playing in different fronts.
DT Derrick Lott – 6-4, 314 – Good fit
Lott is an intriguing defensive tackle with the size to play nose tackle in a 4-3 or defensive end in a 3-4. Lott also has the quickness to get a look at the three-technique defensive tackle position as a possible back up behind McCoy. At 314 pounds he’s the heaviest defensive tackle on the roster and still has good movement. Lott’s size might help him earn a roster spot if he can show he can make plays.
DT Davon Coleman – 6-2, 295 – Possible fit
Coleman, a newcomer, is an undersized three-technique candidate that spent two years in Dallas and limited time with Chicago last year. His size likely limits him to just the three-technique position, which could hinder his chances of sticking in training camp, especially if the Bucs truly want to give teams multiple looks where they will play both a 4-3 and a 3-4 front.
DT Da’Quan Bowers – 6-4, 288 – Not a good fit
Bowers, a former second-round pick in 2011, is on his fourth head coach in Tampa Bay and he’s been washed out of the Bucs organization a couple of times already because he doesn’t love football and can’t get in ideal playing shape. Bowers has just seven sacks in five years with the Bucs. While his size allows him the chance to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 or defensive end in a 3-4, his lack of effort and production will hold him back from making a favorable impression on the new defensive coaches unless his attitude does a 180-degree turn.
Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel are unrestricted free agents and are not expected to be re-signed.
LB Lavonte David – 6-1, 233 – Ideal fit
David finally achieved Pro Bowl status in 2015 and had a strong finish to his fourth year in the league with 143 tackles, three sacks, three interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. David is a solid blitzer, evidenced by 13 career sacks, including seven in 2013, but seems better rushing up the middle than off the edge. Given his speed, agility and athleticism, David could play inside or outside in a 3-4 scheme, which could give opposing offenses different looks, in addition to his familiar weakside spot in Tampa Bay’s 4-3 front.
LB Kwon Alexander – 6-1, 227 – Ideal fit
Alexander showed great promise as an all-around middle linebacker – one that can stuff the run, drop in coverage and blitz effectively using his blazing speed and explosiveness. Alexander recorded 93 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two interceptions in the first 12 games of his rookie season before serving a four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing drug found in an energy drink he consumed. Whether it’s a 4-3 or a 3-4 front, this future Pro Bowler has the football I.Q. and athletic ability to excel.
LB Bruce Carter – 6-2, 240 – Ideal fit
Carter has experience playing all three linebacker positions – Sam, Will and Mike – in Dallas, and served as the backup middle linebacker last year, getting four starts when Alexander missed the month of December with his suspension. Although he’s a bit pricey at $4.25 million, the Bucs see good value because he’s versatile and he’s played in a 3-4 scheme before with the Cowboys. Carter, who had 47 tackles and two sacks, may take over as Tampa Bay’s Sam linebacker for Danny Lansanah this year as Lansanah will be a restricted free agent and may not receive a tender offer.
LB Jeremiah George – 5-11, 234 – Possible fit
George was a stalwart on special teams for the Bucs last year and recorded seven tackles on defense. He’s a young, developmental linebacker from Clearwater that has the ability to learn all three linebacker positions. He could eventually be Alexander’s primary backup at the Mike spot.
LB Adarius Glanton – 6-1, 230 – Possible fit
Glanton, who came to Tampa Bay via Carolina, is a fast, athletic player that fits the Bucs’ mold at linebacker. At Florida Atlantic he recorded 3.5 sacks his final two years of college, in addition to two interceptions, including a pick-six. He must stand out on special teams and show versatility to have a shot at the 53-man roster.
LB Josh Keyes – 6-2, 223 – Possible fit
Keyes is a well-rounded linebacker that is back for his second offseason with the Buccaneers. Keyes notched 7.5 sacks in his final two years at Boston College, so he has some experience rushing the passer as well as dropping into pass coverage. He excels on special teams and has a chance to win a reserve linebacker role, especially if Lansanah doesn’t return.
LB Darius Eubanks – 6-2, 222 – Not a good fit
Eubanks is a blazing fast (4.48) outside linebacker with a thin build and not much experience rushing the passer in college or at the NFL level. He seems pigeonholed as a 4-3 weakside linebacker and will have to excel on special teams to make the 53-man roster.
Lansanah, 30, is a restricted free agent that may not receive a tender after failing to make many splash plays as the Bucs’ strongside linebacker in 2015. Lansanah had three interceptions in 2014, including a pair of pick-sixes.
FAB 4. SMITH MIGHT BE THE BUCS’ BEST PASS-RUSHING FIT IN FREE AGENCY
Understand that when it comes to free agency, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht hates it – and with good reason.
The Bucs have found as many as eight possible starters in the draft over the past two years in franchise quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans, running back Charles Sims, tight end Austin-Seferian Jenkins, offensive linemen Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kevin Pamphile and middle linebacker Kwon Alexander. Free agency hasn’t been nearly as kind or successful.
Ex-Bucs DE Michael Johnson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The Bucs’ top three free agent signings in 2014 when Licht came aboard with head coach Lovie Smith – quarterback Josh McCown, defensive end Michael Johnson and left tackle Anthony Collins – were all overpaid busts that flamed out after one year in Tampa Bay. Cornerback Alterraun Verner remains on the roster, but hasn’t lived up to his hefty price tag yet.
Last year, Licht signed linebacker Bruce Carter to a rich, three-year deal, only to see him lose his starting job to Alexander, a rookie. Licht also swung and missed on three defensive ends in free agency in Trent Cole, Derrick Morgan and Greg Hardy, and had to settle for trading for George Johnson, who turned out to be another overpaid bust – although not as overpaid as Michael Johnson was.
So you’ll have to excuse Licht and the Bucs front office for wanting to skim through free agency and focus on what has proven to work, which is building through the draft.
Four out of the five Buccaneers Pro Bowlers – Winston, running back Doug Martin, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy – were all Tampa Bay draft picks. And with Winston, Smith, Marpet, Alexander, Sims, Evans and Seferian-Jenkins all on cheap rookie contracts, building through the draft represents great value.
That’s not to say that the Bucs won’t be active in free agency. Re-signing Martin remains the priority this offseason. And finding less expensive, value free agents like defensive tackle Clinton McDonald in 2014 and free safety Chris Conte in 2015.
There will be some Bucs fans that will clamor for the team to target Miami defensive end Olivier Vernon in free agency. The 6-foot-2, 275-pound pass rusher had a career year in 2013 with 11.5 sacks. Over the past two seasons, Vernon has recorded 14 sacks, including 7.5 last year, and two forced fumbles.
Vernon is expected to cash in during free agency and command top dollar as one of the premier 4-3 defensive ends on the market, fetching between $9-$10 million per season. Don’t expect Licht and the Bucs to be interested, despite defensive end being a big need.
Miami DE Olivier Vernon – Photo by: Getty Images
New York Giants defensive end Robert Ayers has 14.5 sacks and three forced fumbles over the past two years, including 9.5 sacks in 2015. He’s not the athlete that Vernon is and is expected to cash in on a deal worth $6 million per year, possibly re-signing with the Giants.
The Bucs may also consider beefing up their defensive end position with a proven, yet less expensive pass rusher like Kansas City’s Tamba Hali, who plays outside linebacker in the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense. Kansas City may not be able to afford Hali, who is 32 and likely still worthy of a two-year deal worth $10 million with the first year – likely $5 million – being guaranteed.
Hali has 86 sacks, 32 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries in his 10-year career. He’s recorded 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles over the past two years.
Yet the best value the Bucs will get in free agency is re-signing exclusive rights free agent Jacquies Smith. Because he has only played two years in the league, he can only negotiate with Tampa Bay.
In his two years in Tampa Bay, Smith has recorded 13.5 sacks, including seven last year, along with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. That production is slightly better than Hali’s and on par with that of Vernon and Ayers – despite missing a combined 10 games during that span. Why would Licht go out and spend tens of millions of dollars on a player that may only be slightly better than Smith, a player that would be significantly cheaper?
Last year’s exclusive rights free agent tender amount was $585,000. It’s expected to crest the $600,000 amount this year when the NFL releases the actual figures in the near future.
Bucs DE Jacquies Smith – Photo by: Getty Images
Smith missed most of training camp and the entire preseason with a shoulder injury. Then he started the 2015 season with a bang with four sacks in the first two games, including a command performance in a 26-19 win at New Orleans in Week 2 in which Smith set career highs with three sacks and two forced fumbles.
“Jacq is special, very special,” Bucs nose tackle Akeem Spence said. “We know it and he knows it. Injuries are an unfortunate part of it, but he really came on in that New Orleans game when he had three sacks against Drew Brees. He beat a pretty good tackle in Zach Strief for all three of those. Seeing him growing and maturing, I think he can be real special. Maybe not like the guy in Denver (Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller), but pretty close.”
After Smith was inserted into the starting lineup midway through his rookie season, replacing Michael Johnson, he went on to record 6.5 sacks in the last nine games of the 2014 season and four in the first two games of last year.
“What did he have, 10.5 sacks in 11 games?” Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said last year. “You get 10 sacks in 11 games, I think I would want to keep that person around.
“He truly believes he can be ‘that guy’ and I do as well, with his skillset and how hard he works, but only time will tell.”
After his hot start to his second season, injuries cut into Smith’s production. Hamstring and ankle injuries caused him to miss four games last year and parts of two others. Still, recording seven sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown in essentially 11 games is quite impressive.
“Keep in mind Jack has missed a lot of time,” said former Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. “He’s a good football player. He’s showed that, demonstrated that to us last year. We need his presence on the edge rushing the passer, not just rushing the passer but he’s a guy who plays hard every snap.”
Bucs DE Jacquies Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I think the Bucs will steer clear of Vernon and Ayers. I wouldn’t mind seeing Licht and Tampa Bay sign Hali to a two-year deal just for his experience and production, but the best free agent defensive end the Bucs will sign this offseason will be the one that creates the least amount of splash because he’s not a new player, and that’s Smith. After playing strongside defensive end last year, look for Smith to move to the weakside and into the Leo position in Mike Smith’s new multiple defensive scheme.
In a year in which Tampa Bay has the ninth overall selection and is ready to pounce on a draft that is rich in defensive line talent, the Bucs may bypass free agency all together at the defensive end position outside of re-signing Smith and then use a couple of draft picks, including their first-rounder, on some young, talented pass rushers.
Licht wouldn’t mind skipping the headache that is free agency one bit.
FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• Speaking of defensive ends, the Bucs won’t have much of a chance at New York Jets defensive end Muhammed Wilkerson, who will be one of the most sought after free agents – if he hits the market. The Jets are expected to use the franchise tag on Wilkerson, who earned $7 million last year, and then negotiate a long-term deal with him.
Complicating matters is the fact that Wilkerson will be out about six months this offseason after breaking his leg in the season finale. It is possible that the Jets might tag and trade Wilkerson because they are flush with talent along the defensive line, but in addition to paying out a mega contract with as much as $40 million in guaranteed money, acquiring Wilkerson would also likely come with surrendering a team’s first-round draft pick. That may not be wise in a draft that is so rich with defensive line talent.
Free agent DE Greg Hardy – Photo by: Getty Images
• The Buccaneers aren’t expected to pursue free agent pass rusher Greg Hardy, who wore out his welcome in Dallas after just one year. Last spring, the Cowboys beat the Bucs for Hardy’s services, but received little production and a lot of locker room headaches with some of Hardy’s outrageous statements to the media causing a distraction.
Tampa Bay would be well advised to steer clear of Hardy, who had just six sacks, a forced fumble and an interception in 12 games after missing the first four due to an NFL suspension stemming from his domestic violence case. The Bucs’ own Jacquies Smith posted better stats in a similar number of games.
• One free agent pass rusher that is worth keeping an eye on is Seattle outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, the fifteenth overall pick in 2012. The new Bucs defense will mirror some of what the Seahawks do with their multiple defensive fronts, and the 6-foot-3, 260-pound Irvin has recorded 131 tackles, 22 sacks, four forced fumbles, three interceptions, including two for pick-sixes, and two fumble recoveries during his four-year career.
Seattle plays him at outside linebacker in base defense and as an edge rusher on obvious passing downs. After recording eight sacks as a primary pass rusher during his rookie year, Irvin saw fewer and fewer snaps at the line of scrimmage, yet recorded 12 sacks over the past two years. The Bucs would have him play defensive end, or the Leo position, and have him use his 4.5 speed to rush the passer more often.
Irvin said he would give Seattle a hometown discount in order to remain a Seahawk.
“I was asked that,” Irvin told ESPN.com. “Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider] asked me that when I met with them today. If it came to that, I would definitely come back. $3, $4 million? $3, $4, $5 million? I would definitely come back because I’m established here.
“These are my brothers. I honestly can’t even imagine myself playing with anybody else, being in a different meeting room, listening to different pregame speeches. It’s just crazy to me. I would definitely come back if they matched or if it was a little less. I would definitely come back to Seattle.”
Irvin could be seeking a deal close to the five-year, $47.25-million contract that Philadelphia pass rusher Vinny Curry received that came with $23 million in guaranteed money.
Schneider told the media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday that the Seahawks may not be able to afford Irvin. I don’t believe the Bucs would pay close to $9 million per season for Curry’s services, but I do expect Tampa Bay to inquire about him in free agency because he is the type of fast, explosive athlete that Jason Licht wouldn’t might taking a shot on. Keep an eye on Curry.
Bucs LG Kevin Pamphile – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
• I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. If Logan Mankins, who will be 34 on March 10, retires rather than return for the final year of his contract, the Buccaneers already have his replacement on the roster in third-year lineman Kevin Pamphile. I read in Sports Illustrated last week that the number one need this offseason in Tampa Bay was interior offensive line help.
Huh? Whatever national writer wrote that – there was no byline – obviously doesn’t pay much attention to the Bucs. He assumed Mankins would retire and that there is no replacement in the fold.
“Not yet,” said Bucs general manager Jason Licht, when asked if he’s talked to Mankins about his plans this offseason. “We’ll be talking to Logan in the next few weeks. His decision isn’t going to have any sort of hindrance on what we’re planning on doing for the future. You’ve got to build, you’ve got to look three years ahead, so his decision isn’t going to hurt us in any way right now, with what we’re planning on doing.”
PewterReport.com has been touting Pamphile for the past year for a reason. The sixth-round pick in 2014 will become the third offensive lineman drafted by Licht to become a starter – either this year or next.
“Kevin has really come on,” Bucs nose tackle Akeem Spence said. “He’s a hard worker and he learned to play multiple positions. He was our tight end in some packages and was our swing tackle. He stepped in for Logan in one game at left guard and I think he did a great job. He’s very versatile. Jason is right about him. I think Kevin is the guy to step in there once Logan hangs it up. He’s shown great promise and he’ll do whatever it takes to get the job done. Kevin is a real hard worker.”
• Tampa Bay rolled over $7,987,748 worth of unused cap room from last year into this year’s salary cap. The NFLPA released the figures on Thursday. It was the eighth largest amount of unused cap room to be rolled over by NFL teams.
The NFL has yet to officially announce the 2016 salary cap figure, but OverTheCap.com reports that the Buccaneers’ salary cap is currently projected to be $163,268,998, including the nearly $8 million of unused cap space that has been rolled over into this year. The Bucs will have a reported $49,392,453 worth of salary cap space, which ranks eighth in the NFL.
Jacksonville has the largest cap at $187,837,428 with $79,803,211 worth of cap space, according to OverTheCap.com.
Bucs NT Clinton McDonald – Photo by: Getty Images
• Bucs team captain and nose tackle Clinton McDonald told PewterReport.com that he’s about 95 percent recovered from his season-ending pectoral injury. McDonald, who had never had surgery prior to last year’s injury, hit the weight room in January for the first time in months and he’s strengthening his pectoral muscle and the muscles around it to prevent him from re-injuring it. He is expected to compete with Akeem Spence for the starting nose tackle job in 2016.
“[The injury] was disappointing, but it was almost necessary for me to step away, get my mind right and get my body right,” McDonald said. “I’m so excited about this upcoming year and getting back to working out and getting back to football. I’m looking forward to this new defense. I played in a 4-3 Under front and a 4-3 Over front in Seattle, as well as some three-man line [schemes] before, so I have some experience in it.”
• Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht spoke highly of good friend and former Tampa Bay director of player personnel Jon Robinson at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. Robinson left the Bucs in January to become the G.M. of the Tennessee Titans. Licht also lauded some key members of Tampa Bay’s front office, including new hire John Spytek, who is Robinson’s replacement.
“You know, just like I said before, with hiring a staff, you want guys that understand their role and are guys that you can bounce things off of. I have a lot of respect for John, working with him – I was there when we hired him in Philly and saw him rise through the organization there and go on to Cleveland and Denver. He’s been around a championship organization, which is always a positive – same with Jon Robinson. He’s a guy that I just really respect and I like having being one of my right hand men because he tells me what he thinks and sometimes I don’t agree with him, but that’s good, because sometimes he’s right, sometimes I’m right, sometimes Mike Biehl, our college [scouting] director, same thing. Mike Greenberg, in terms of the [salary] cap and all of those things – I have a great group of guys. I could go on and on. I feel very, very fortunate with the group of guys that are on our scouting staff.”
• And finally, follow us @PewterReport on Twitter if you’re not doing so already. PewterReport.com is looking for experienced advertising salespeople on a part-time or full-time basis. If you have previous advertising sales experience or a well-connected businessperson with a sales background, please e-mail me your resume` at firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to significant interest in the Bucs’ free agency and the Bucs’ draft, March, April and May are huge web traffic months for PewterReport.com, so the time is right to join the PewterReport.com team.
Scott Reynolds is in his 22nd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
“Tampa Bay’s biggest need is at defensive end, and that’s why you’ve seen Eastern Kentucky’s Noah Spence mocked to the Buccaneers – first by PewterReport.com and then by a host of other websites.”
There were at least a couple other sites that mocked Spence to the Bucs before you did, including this one:
I respectfully disagree about Greg Hardy. I think he’s very talented and although he only got 6 sacks officially last year he was very disruptive. The DL coach we hired from Cinci has experience with talented but troubled players and I think is the perfect guy to potentially bring the best out of Hardy. On a team devoid of legit pass rushing ability we shouldn’t be eliminating talented players based off of perceived character issues. Continue to add through the draft but dont shy away from Hardy bc he doesnt fit the monotone motif most of our defensive players display. Stirring the personality pot on that side of the ball is exactly what we need and the talent definitely justifies the gamble. Also if the Bucs plan on being conservative in FA then resigning Doug Martin should happen. If they claim we want to build through the draft then we have to resign him. I previously thought letting him walk would be ok but if we are ok paying Bruce Carter 5 mill to be a backup LB then giving Martin an extra million or so should be the least of our concerns. Mankins and VJax will be off the books next year so we are not in the position cap wise that allowing him to walk is a necessity. Don’t create holes on a team that has plenty to handle as is, get creative with the contract but make it work.
Good Article Scott. Your diagrams helped in explaining the three types of schemes. I like Spot 9 because we can pick either DE,DB,OL or what is close enough to use the term BAP. I forgot all about Brown and he could help us this year. We are starting to get long in the tooth at DT and might have to pick a DT later in the rounds to develop. Like most fans, I’m not seeing much out there in free agency other than our own free agents. Might be worth it to extend some existing contracts and use some of that extra cap money that’s available.
As Stephen White pointed out in his evaluation of Bosa I am a little concerned about whether he may be close to ‘tapped out’ as a prospect. Obviously the technique is there and he has some of the measureables but if Bosa can’t tighten his corners because of stiffness he could disappoint.
Read the same article and I completely agree. I’ve watched this guy play couple of times and he just doesn’t blow me a way.
Completely agree. It seems like he has a switch that he turns on only in “emergencies” (and they are rare). Other than that he is just plain average or maybe less.
Would not be disappointed if we didn’t draft him at all. It’s not a physical problem but mental and if his college coach couldn’t correct it, what makes anyone think we can?
Re: Fab 1. I think it is bass ackwards to draft for need in the 1st round and BPA afterwards. It should be BPA in 1st round and fill needs in later rounds. That way you have no round 1 bust.
Great Fab 5 as always. Love seeing the combine get rolling as there is at least football to talk about.
I’m not a big fan of Bosa, the production just doesn’t match the competition he’s played.
If he passes the tests I’m all for Spence. Started watching some of his tape and he is MUCH more explosive than Bosa.
I also like resigning Jaq Smith to a long term deal now as you could get it on the cheap. He’s been injured the last two seasons so why not get it done now.His injuries are the only thing holding him back as he has played very well when he’s out there, so here’s to hoping he plays a full season.
The bucs woill approach FA cautiously, but don’t be stingy. I know they’ve been burned in the past couple of years, but thats’ just because they picked the wrong guys. We have WAY too many needs to avoid free agency. I am also a little saddened at thinking they won’t go after Vernon from Miami. How often does a young , very good, and improving pas rusher hit free agency?
You have to bring in some free agencts as you can’t get everything you need in the draft.
I also hear Dougie is going to get to test the market. HOpe they have a backup plan, which I’m syure they do. Maybe they let him see the market and it’s not what he thinks it is and they resign him. They are saying he’s asking for right around the Demarco Murry deal and that’s just absurd.
I know it’s not my money being spent ,but there’s a cap for a reason. No running back in the NFL is worth that a year. NONE
I do have to chuckle a little after every player I read about slamming Lovies “predictable” defense. Hell any casual fan could see that. Thank god the Glazers had the balls to can that clown.
Should be n interesting couple of days to see some of these guys shine.
ON a side note, about Greg Hardy. Lats year I was of the voice that we should go after him, but after last year , no way. The guy is just an asshole and has legitimate anger issues. Seems like a shitty locker room guy as well. Not worth the headache.
Fab 2: Guys, which is better; Lovie’s stay in place and read defense or Schiano’s constant blitzing? Why can’t we get this right?
I would take Schiano’s constant blitzing any day over that atrocity Lovie put on the field the last two years. I literally get angry just thinking about it.
Hardy is more trouble than he is worth. He helped make a bad team worse. So much about the Bucs is headed in the right direction. Let’s keep it going that way and avoid Hardy. Take a chance on Spence. At least he has shown an attempt at doing what’s right. Hardy is out of control.
If Bosa was the pick, let’s hope that he wouldn’t be a huge bust like his dear old dad John with the Miami Dolphins.
Great Fab 5 this week SR! A lot of meat on those bones! Might come back for a second helping later in the week!
Good Fab 5, especially Fab 3. The only thing I strongly disagree on is that B. Carter is an ideal fit. In Carter’s contract year the Cowboys had switched to a 4-3 where he played OLB and got multiple INT’s. He was so bad in the 3-4 the prior years that they still let him walk in FA. But since he’s a backup now it really doesn’t matter whether he works in the new defense or not.
Also, after E. Elliott ran a 4.46 in the 40 today you might as well move him into the top 10 ahead of us because there is no way he’ll last until the #9 spot. At least that pushes another pass rusher down to us if we want to take one with our pick. I’ll have to focus on another player who I think will be the BPA and still on the board when we pick at #9. I also fully expect the Bucs to sign D. Martin at some point, I just don’t know if it will be before or after the draft.
I forgot to mention the teams I expect to draft Elliott ahead of us: Either the Cowboys, Ravens or Dolphins.
Pink- Take Ravens off your list ever hear of Justin Forsett?
Bosa reminds me of a Grant Wistrom who was same size at 6’4 280, would rely on strength rather than quick twitch moves and speed, I think Bosa will be a good player he is very powerful esp against the run but we need a pure pass rusher like a Spence now that dude is like a poor mans Von Miller. I heard someone mention we should get Greg Hardy, I won’t reply based on how stupid that suggestion was
Greg Hardy comment up there with Stocker is a good TE comments, hilarious
You’ve done it again. Anyone who has played football knows that what you and the youngsters call a tight end is not a football player; he’s a basket ball player with shoulder pads on. I want a football player like Stocker. He blocks and catches. Stupid defined is
lacking intelligence (IQ). Many of the people you are calling stupid probably have IQ’s >105. What’s yours coach?
Stocker had 60 yds for the entire year who has lack of intelligence?
76Buc- Ever hear of Tony Gonazales, and Antonio Gtaes? Both were basketball players with pads on, see you learned something today
yes, best player available; could be a surprise. Let’s stick Rankins next to McCoy; better yet, let’s trade down a little bit, and pickup which ever of the three Dt’s are left, and pick up another draft pick. There’s Rankins, Billings, and Vernon Butler. Then, the second pick, there’ll probably be Ogbah, 74.Bronson Kaufusi, one of the two will be there.
the good thing about Bosa falling will be that we can trade down.
Or Oakman could be there in the second round. Yes, there’ll be some development/coaching needed, but the Dline will be talented, and will develop in time.
PR, I have felt for a while that you guys are the best news source for the Bucs in the world. When you report something, I take is as gospel.
But your analysis is really, really rough, guys. I hope that you all will one day either (1) put an emphasis on employing a staffer or two who is really strong in film study and understanding the inner workings of the game on a play by play basis, or (2) just stop trying to analyze players, schemes, etc. It’s bad enough that it deters me from reading sometimes.
So many of the labels applied to our current players for how well they fit a 3-4 defense are so far off. Apparently, according to you guys, we have the personnel to run one of the best 3-4 defenses in the entire NFL starting today. And how can you defend the decision to just sit on all this cap room? Ultimately, there are exactly two things you can do with cap space – spend it, or don’t. We have four more years where Jameis is going to be on a contract that is well below his market value. Those are the four years we have available to spend liberally to try to find players to make this team a true contender to an extent that we won’t be able to once we’re paying our QB more than $25M per year.
This might be the part where you say that rather than spending on free agents, we’re going to spend on our own guys…..but which guys are you even talking about? It appears that there’s a good chance that Doug walks. If that’s the case, then here is the FULL list of guys we currently have on rookie deals who are, as of now, likely to command substantial money once their contracts are up, with the year for their new deals in parentheses.
Jacquies Smith (whenever the time comes that he’s no longer a RFA and is instead unrestricted, not sure about the year)
Mike Evans (2019)
Smith [I’m being generous here] (2019)
That’s it. Beyond that, we have a handful of guys who, as of now, might get medium-sized contracts, or less – namely Banks, ASJ, Sims, Pamphile. And again, this is being a bit generous.
So we have $50M in cap space. We have at least $17M about to come off the books by next offseason with VJ and Mankins’s deals expiring, plus another likely savings of $4.25M with the probably impending release of Bruce Carter, and ANOTHER $4.5 we could save by cutting Gosder Cherilus, who sucks and is making middle of the road starting RT money, plus Joe Hawley, who is well below average and, again, getting starter money for his position at $3.5M. Throw in George Johnson and his $2M, and we’ve just come up with a whopping $31 MILLION that will be an absolute non-issue just next year. AND the cap is expected to continue to expand year by year for the foreseeable future.
I say again – there are two things the team can do with the money it has available to it to spend. We can try to make the team better by pursuing free agents of various levels, including premium ones. Or we can literally do nothing with it. Because, again, WE DON’T HAVE ANYONE CURRENTLY ON THE TEAM to give it to.
Will we miss with some signings? Yes, of course. But free agency is just one mean available to a team to improve itself. We’ve missed with some. But other teams have killed it in free agency and won championships they wouldn’t have won without it. Denver just fielded a dominant defense in which half of the best players on that side of the ball for them were free agents – Aqib Talib, TJ Ward, Demarcus Ware. They don’t win a championship without those guys. Same for Seattle, who had a great defensive line, the best two players which came from free agency – Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
Note: I’m not saying that free agency should be the long term hope for building a team. It’s not sustainable. But for now, (1) with a large gap of time before we have to pay big money to players currently in house, (2) we have a franchise QB on a rookie deal, and (3) we’re $50M under this year’s cap and likely to be a LOT more under the cap next year if we don’t spend a fair amount in free agency…..it’s a perfect storm. Now is the time to strike with significant free agent signings. In 5 years, hopefully, we’ve drafted and played well enough that we have neither the need nor the resources available to do it this way. But as of this specific moment, this time, for this team, this should absolutely be a major resource. Like i said, we will undoubtedly miss on some players we sign. That’s a given. But we’ve also got a pretty good chance at hitting on some. The more shots you take, the more you make. We can live with the misses, purely because, again, there’s not a damn other thing for us to do with this money for right now.
Man, the inability to insert spaces between paragraphs with this posting tool makes for a brutal read on any long post.
The vast majority of your post makes a lot of sense Toofamiliar17. It made me think about some things I hadn’t considered before, which to me is the point of having comments on a sports news website.
This makes absolutely good sense about spending some money on free agents. I am still also in favor of getting some deals done now with players we know are going to be here for a while and have a year or two left on their contracts.
Great post sir. This is the first time I’ve seen yopu post on here and it was a good one. With the caproom we have now, and the impending monster contract we will have to give out in a couple of years to Jameis, the time to strike is now. I’ve said it before, past failures shouldn’t keep from trying the same things to succeed. And that is free agency. We’ve just overpaid for guys who quite frankly weren’t that good. Great post and welcome to PR .
Thanks for the welcome, cg, but I am actually a bit of an old timer who just stopped commenting for a long time. At some point I forgot my password, and then the site switched over from it’s old format, and I had issues with the password recovery tool. As a result, I just…..well, I didn’t care that much to comment, so I just gave it up, lol. Been lurking ever since. Probably, part of the reason I have been fine with stepping back is that I really do get so frustrated with so much of the analysis side of things on here. I don’t have much nice to say about it, so I’ve chosen to be okay just not saying anything. Anyways, thanks for the welcome (back). I finally just decided to try the password recovery feature again, and it worked seamlessly, so I unloaded a lot of thoughts.
I can’t get overly excited when our best free agent signing is re-signing Jaq Smith. He is probably the best defensive end we have, not really saying much for this group.
Excellent article (as usual). There’s no question that the Bucs need some pass rushers. Signing J. Smith is essential…we should learn that lesson from letting Bennett go two years ago. We have McCoy, good linebackers. One thing that’s difficult is to determine whether any if the other returning players in D are any good because of the constant shifting of CBs, the crappy coaching on the defensive side, and a defensive scheme that is most politely called “bend but don’t break”. Unfortunately, they broke a lot!
This is a good example and what the bucs will do. go bucs
PR even though I am not a Bosa fan I liked how you showed a mock draft where he does slide and is available to the Bucs. Similar to what you did there I have seen articles about the Cowboys saying they might not be able to pass on a franchise QB and that Kaepernick wants to be traded. Do you think there is a chance that 3 QB’s are taken before the Bucs pick and if that were to happen does Ramsey become a legit option?
In evaluating defensive players you left out Danny Lansanah. Please explain why. After all he won the starting SAM position.
I was wondering the same thing
With the Spence train being derailed with interviews and his combine performance, I’m thinking we should open up the checkbook and sign Vernon, resign Martin of course, then go for the BPA in the draft. There isn’t anyone in the draft that is a “must have” for us so maybe even trade down for more picks.
I have faith that Licht and company will do their thing and make us better as they have the last 2 years.
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