About the author

Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

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  1. 1


    Mankins’ decision will impact a lot.

  2. 2


    The 2016 league year and the free agency period starts Wednesday, March 9th at 4pm. According to OTC, 2016 cap space is 49.46mil, 7th most in the NFL. And I’m here to help them spend it. Lol.

    I have 3 targets for Bucs Free Agency – Offense
    WR Travis Benjamin – replaces Donteea Dye
    C Stefen Wisniewski replaces Evan Smith
    OT Mitchell Schwartz – replaces Gosder Cherilus or Demar Dotson

    –Wide Receiver (preference)

    Travis Benjamin, Browns, 26
    The Bucs have a dilemma because they have decided to keep Vincent Jackson for the final year of his contract – a decision I agree with BTW. But Jackson’s contract is a big one and a Benjamin contract could be in the same stratosphere. But it’s all about #3 and that slot speed receiver that stretches the field and catches the long ball – the long ball that Koetter wants Winston to improve on is an important and missing piece of the offense. Well if you want Winston to throw it, you have got to have somebody to catch it and that Benjamin can do. Knowing that we get the cap space back next year when Jackson leaves or re-up for a lesser salary, I would try to sign Benjamin, now!

    –Offensive Linemen

    Mitchell Schwartz, OT, Cleveland Browns, 26
    ProFootballFocus.com gave Schwartz It’s best rating at right tackle. Schwartz ranks seventh among all tackles, first among those on the right side. He has given up 12 total pressures in 260 drop backs, about one in every 22 plays. Denver’s Von Miller leads the league in pressures. Against Schwartz, he got just one pressure. Schwartz is not a dominant run blocker, but he’s better than average, ranking ninth in the league at his position. Schwartz is younger and a definite improvement over both Dotson and Cherilus. We keep one, but not both. The decision will be made in training camp.

    Stefen Wisniewski, C, Jaguars, 26
    Finally healthy after an injury-ridden 2014 campaign, Stefen Wisniewski played well in his first year with the Jaguars. He’s especially strong in pass protection. Jags OC Greg Olson said, “Wis is a solid player. Nothing flashy about him there he just comes to work and does his job.”

    *Parts of Analysis courtesy of WalterFootball and other rating agencies.

    1. 2.1


      I’m definitely with you on two of these three, although maybe not some of the details. I’d LOVE to have Benjamin, but there’s no way he should get VJ money. If he’s going to, I hope it’s somewhere else. I like the guy a lot, but come on, man. He has ONE career season with more than 18 measly catches. Now, I love his skill set, but that’s a bet that’s waaaaaay too big to place based primarily on a guy’s work over exactly one season. And in truth, that season wasn’t even THAT awesome. 68 catches, less than 1,000 yards, not built to be much of a red zone target. Now, don’t get me wrong – like I said, I really like the guy. He’s young, is a major factor on special teams, and has a skill set we don’t currently really feature within our group of receivers. But that’s too much money.
      As for Schwartz, I like him a lot. I have some concern because I tend to prefer my RT to be a mauler in the running game, but much like Dotson of yesterday, he’s still good there even if he’s not truly GREAT. But I also think he’ll be veeeeeery expensive, so that’s tough. I don’t want to overpay on him, especially not when I still think Demar can be the guy he was before he got hurt – actually, very similar to what Schwartz was last year – an elite pass blocker at RT who’s good but not great in the running game. And he costs a fraction of what Schwartz would. If Dotson isn’t in the team’s plans, though, I’d be on board, I think.
      I’d be happy to have Wiz, but it isn’t a huge priority for me. I’d prefer to find a center who’s more dynamic in the running game. He is clearly far better than everything else we have at the position, though, so if the deal was right, I’d be game.
      Lastly, I pray that Cherilus is either gone or here at 1/3 the price no matter what. There’s no sense whatsoever in him getting the money he’s scheduled to get. He’s just not very good. He either needs to be somebody else’s backup on something near or at the veteran minimum, or looking for work elsewhere.

    2. 2.2

      Uncle Stan

      Does Wisniewski play guard also? I would like to see EDS gone also, but the new player needs to be a guard/center

      1. 2.2.1


        Uncle Stan,
        Read professional career beginning with Hue Jackson at Oakland Raiders.


  3. 3


    Alex Mack over Wis. Really like Schwartz.

    1. 3.1


      Alex Mack is the best center in FA. He opted out in Cleveland where he was guaranteed 8.4mil/yr for 16 and 17. Will take at least 10mil to get him. The Bucs won’t spend that on O-Line not a LOT. They’re not even going to go after Wis, they will keep Evan Smith. That’s just my wishful thinking.lol. Not going to happen!

  4. 4


    Mac; I like your OL and C picks, but I’m not interested in the other ones. Why? Because I am hoping we add at least one DE and CB and spend some big money on them with 2 years of guaranteed money. I like you are assuming Martin signs back with us.

  5. 5


    Mark, get Article and well thought out.

  6. 6


    Why in the world would we want to lose the second best RB in the league. The object of FA is to upgrade your team and I see no RB out there that will accomplish that goal.
    Mark my words, if the Bucs don’t sign Martin, there is a team out there who will that doesn’t want to waste a draft pick on an unproven commodity when they can have one who is in his prime and is battle tested.
    If the Bucs let Martin go over money, which they have plenty of, it will be a true indication that the Bucs aren’t seriously interested in pursuing a championship.
    Instead, it will just be proof that like Hugh Culverhouse and Bill Bidwell of the Cardinals, the Glazer boys are just interested in turning a much larger profit.

    1. 6.1


      I agree. Thinking of the Bucs without Doug Martin is like considering buying a Corvette with a 4-cylinder engine inside. To the bean counter, what a value! It looks just lkke the fast Corvette. And you’ll save enough on gas to get that window caulking you’ve always needed! But to the car fan, no excitement. Why bother? Who in free agency would be as good as Doug besides Doug? Nobody.

  7. 7


    Our line needs help…they did much better than expected last year (WINSTON got hit a lot but at least he didnt get killed)…but that bar was as low as it comes. If we want to progress, we need help…Smith as the long-term LT sounds scary, but could work if we got very solid up the middle…like Alex Mack solid…going into 2016 with a mediocre line will be the start of the end for Licht…he needs to upgrade this team now…Jameis won’t be patient, the fans have already been patient, and the Glazers are trigger happy.

    1. 7.1


      Finally somebody who gets it with Donovan Smith. I haven’t quit on him as a long term solution at LT yet, but he was not good last year. He has a very long way to go to be a good player for us there. I would be just okay with pursuing Mack…I was super excited when he got cut and totally ready to pay him big dollars, but I watched four games of his film from this past year, and he didn’t look like nearly the same dominant player he’s been in years past. Not saying he couldn’t be again, but coming off the season he just had, the year after a major injury, and at the age of 30 going on 31 mid-season, I’d be very apprehensive about giving him top center money at this point. I’d still be excited to have him, but it would scare me.

    2. 7.2


      One need only to go back in time to see the $$$ the Glazers have spent to sign free agents and coaches who failed to live up to our and their expectations. I no longer see the reluctance to open the treasure chest of the Culverhouse days. Your comparison is more your perception than, as jonnyG would say, “FACT”. Don’t you think paying close to the cap limit to make the roster as talented as it can be, resulting in wins to energize the community to fill the stadium, to encourage more corporate sponsors, to sell more team merchandise and for the, as you call them, “greedy” Glazer boys to have a sense of pride in their team, could actually result in more return on their investment? Don’t you think it’s just a tad more enjoyable more the billionaire NFL owners to enjoy the a winning team than to spend their off days stacking money as high as it will go? You’re living in the past drdneast. Gone are the days of NFL owners keeping player salaries low to make more (I know you hate the word)……..profit.

      1. 7.2.1


        The Bucs may not be permanently cheapskates, but they are going through a cheapskate phase this season. It’s not the dawn of a new era of prudence and wisdom. It’s just the pendulum swinging back too far in the cheap direction. I hope they will see the error in their timidity before it’s too late and Martin is making $10 million a season in a Seahawks uniform. Meanwhile, we’ll be putt puttting along in our thrifty minivans, wondering why nobody gawks and points at our fiscal frugality. Bleah.

  8. 8


    Well macabee, Wis is a sterter and Even Smith isn’t and probably never will be again.
    With that in mind, what starting position would you plan on slugging the Wis into,
    For another, the Wis wants to play center which is one of the reasons the Bucs didn’t try to sign him last year.
    As it was, we lucked out and picked up a pretty good one off the waiver wire in Joe Hawley who the Falcons made a mistake on when they released him. Big mistake, too.
    I don’t disagree with you about Benjamin and Schwartz but for some reason I believe the Bucs are more concerned with run blocking first and then protecton second.
    Don’t ask me why, it’s just the way they pick OL and what they have said over the years that makes me think that is their philosophy.
    BTW, I wouldn’t put much stock in what Pro Football Focus says.
    No one knows how they put their stats together or even who does them.

    1. 8.1


      I wish I had all the answers. Those players are all players that I think would make the Bucs better. But that’s not a high threshold IMO. Is Wis better than Hawley? Let training camp answer that – quality depth surely won’t hurt.
      I have no real expectation that the Bucs will entertain any of those players. It’s really all about your own confidence factor. Bucs haven’t signed Martin, didn’t sign CB Brice McCain, taking longer than I would have expected to sign FS Chris Conte, not cut one single player, not even Mike Jenkins lol. What do you think will/should happen and what is your confidence factor?

    2. 8.2


      Hawley was terrible, dude. Got killed by just about every DT with substantial strength that he faced. He’s good on the move in space, i.e. blocking on screens, and that’s about it. Good, quick feet when pulling. But he’s weak at the point of attack and lacks the technique to hold up against pass rushers with really any moves at all. And just from a physical standpoint, he got pushed around in there a ton this year. Reading this and your take on Donovan Smith, I have to reeeeaaaally question your ability to judge the play of offensive linemen, lol.

  9. 9


    Its strange where people get these preconceived notions about Donovan Smith.
    Perhaps it’s just the lingering rumors from college that he was lazy and didn’t work hard enough.
    Whatever the case, I just finished reading a piece off of NFL.com that said the Bucs actually picked up four No. 1 picks in the draft last year; Winston, Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander.
    It further went on to say that Smith did a more than great job of run blocking last year and was satisfactory in pass protection which was something he needed to work on.
    If you watch the Eagles game, in one of Martin’s long runs, Smith takes out two Eagle defenders with two separate blocks.
    But I am sure with your tunnel vision EastEndBoy, all you remember from the whole year is Jason Piere Paul getting by Smith and “almost” sacking Winston.

    1. 9.1


      Smith was not good, man. He flashed really great play in the running game, but that was very inconsistent. He was pretty poor at blocking the back side of runs to the right of the field. He was REALLY poor at pass blocking the edge when not given help from other blockers, especially against any types of speed rushers. You knock PFF, but there really isn’t much mystery to how they grade offensive linemen, or anyone for that matter – they watch each snap a guy takes and give him a grade on the play. His overall grade is the cumulative grade from those snaps. With offensive linemen especially, it’s tough to find fault with this method. They literally never leave the screen during normal TV film of a play. Corners’ grades, for me, might be a bit tougher to trust. But for linemen? It’s really easy to determine what a guy was supposed to do on a play and whether or not he did it well. Donovan Smith was not good last year. Did he show some tools that could make him good? Sure. But there are real reasons for concern, and his performance last year was bad overall. Stat of the day: Jameis was only sacked 27 times last year, good for 5th fewest in the league, which would seem to indicate that our line was good at pass blocking. Wanna know how many times he was HIT (sacks+hits, actually), though? 99. And the AVERAGE for the NFL was in the 40s. Donovan’s struggles were a big part of that. He’s a LT that bends at the waist to try to stop a speed rusher rather than moving his feet and using his hands well. ALL. THE. TIME. I don’t care what a fluff piece on nfl.com said about our draft last year, lol. A systematic, substantive analysis of Smith tells the story of a badly flawed player in both phases of the game, but who clearly possesses the physical tools to be very good in the long run. Critiques of him are based on a whole lot more than “preconceived notions”.

      1. 9.1.1


        Yup toofamiliar, that’s a pretty good summary…

  10. 10


    Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB for the Bills, is the 4th best FA quarterback available? No….Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB for the JETS, is the second best FA quarterback available. Not that it matters in the slightest for us, but he’s leaps and bounds better than Colt McCOy, Case Keenum, etc.

  11. 11


    I’ll leave it to our coaching staff and General Manager to evaluate the offensive line. But I know this much, Donovan Smith looked pretty good to me for a rookie. He may not have been Paul Gruber but was no Kenyata Walker. I think some of you critics keep going back to whether you liked the Draft pick and then try to find fault to support your original opinion. I know this much; Donovan Smith was part of an offensive line that allowed a 4,000 yard passer and a 2nd ranked rusher.

  12. 12


    I’ve seen left tackles drafted high in the first round not do as well as Smith. Come on, he was solid for a rook, should only get better. Should the Bucs pay Mack 10 mill, cut ES that’s 3 mill, now it’s like paying Mack 7 mil, good investment. Pay Schwartz, cut Cherilus, force Mankins out, saving money there. Now you have a solid O line, with Smith, Phampile, Mack, Marpet, Schwartz. The draft is deep on defense, now you load up on that side of the ball.

    1. 12.1


      Like your plan Surf….a lot! Just need a running back to run behind that line. Hell….spend some of the cap money. We do need to upgrade.

  13. 13


    Sounds good to me Surferdudes. I have nothing to add except I don’t believe Licht will overspend on a player at any position. I believe proof of this is Martin. They’re letting hit the market so he can see his real value which I believe is 5 million.

  14. 14


    I’m intrigued at the possibility of signing WR Andre Johnson. Word is he will not be back with the colts. Pairing him with Evans and Jackson would give us 3x 6’5″ possession receivers and an additional leader on the field

  15. 15


    I don’t get why they hang on to Austin Seferain-Jenkins. He is hurt constantly, is not much of a blocker and his hands are more than suspect, they are bad. I don’t see how that makes him an NFL TE that any team would want? If he could at least catch well, I might hold out some hope for his development and that his injuries were just bad breaks and not a pattern. Plus his desire to play through pain has also been questioned. At this point, he has had long enough to develop in my opinion and should be cut after pre-season, if not before.

  16. 16


    I hope I’m wrong, but I thought that I might be once and found that I was mistaken!

  17. 17


    This may sound crazy because of his tendency to get injured and his football character, but I would like to see the Bucs target Percy Harvin. He is a the deep threat speed receiver that we need. And he would be electrifying in returns. Also would come much cheaper than travis benjamin.

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