It is a new year and with it comes a new Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your Twitter offered questions. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: Who do you think the Bucs will take if Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are at pick 7?

Answer: If it is anyone but Chubb the entire Tampa Bay fan base might riot and storm the gates of One Buc Place. And I might join. That isn’t to say Nelson wouldn’t help this team, but picking a guard in the Top 10 just doesn’t make a ton of sense if Chubb is still on the board. And maybe even if he isn’t. To me, if it is a Top 10 lineman, it needs to be a left tackle. Other than that I think you can find guards later on in the draft. Maybe not as good as Nelson, but say you use a 10 point scale to grade lineman and Nelson is a nine. If you can find a seven a couple rounds later and still get a pass rusher, wouldn’t you rather have that?

Chubb checks all the boxes. He is a three-down defensive lineman, a little crazy, a hard worker by all accounts and a leader. There is still plenty of work to be done looking into his tape and the interview process with teams, but if Chubb happens to still be on the board I would sprint the card up to the podium, shove Goodell out of the way, and make the announcment myself.

Question: Remember you guys saying Jason Licht pursued Aldon Smith before think they revisit and pursue troubled DEs Ealy/Dion Jordan?

Answer: You can expect the Buc to talk to anyone who rushes the passer and makes it to free agency. Troubled pasts or not. At this point, with Licht and Dirk Koetter on essentially one-year deals, the Bucs need to show dramatic improvement in order to be here beyond 2018. Another 5-11 year and it is most likely a “blow things up” scenario next year at this time. So worrying about a head case pass rusher is the least of their concerns. And even when Licht’s job wasn’t in jeopardy he had no issues trying to sign pass rushers with some red flags, like Greg Hardy. In fact some of the best pass rushers are those who have had some issues in the past. A little crazy if you will. Obviously you can look at Lee Roy Selmon and see not all pass rushers have a nasty edge off the field, but then again for every Selmon, there are 10 Lawrence Taylors.

I haven’t heard the name of Ealy or Jordan at this point, but it is still very early in the free agent evaluations. But it wouldn’t shock me to see the Bucs at least put out feelers to those two and pretty much any pass rusher that has had some success in the league.

Question: What positions do you think the Bucs will focus on more in FA and what will they focus on more in the draft?

Answer: As mentioned above, improving the defensive line is, and must be, a priority this offseason. The Bucs can bring in 10 new weapons for Winston, and average 35 points a game, but if they give up an average of 36, then it is all for not. It starts up front, on both sides of the ball really, but especially on the defensive line. The NFL is full of too many quarterbacks talented enough to pick apart a secondary when given all day to throw. And we saw that for the most part last season when the Bucs managed just 22 sacks on the year.

Cornerback is another position the Bucs will tap into in free agency, but some of that may come by signing some of their own guys. The Bucs made it clear they want Brent Grimes back, but the ball is pretty much in his court. Robert McClain is another player who spent a year in Mike Smith’s defense the Bucs could bring back for depth and to compete for a role.

And lastly running back. Doug Martin has almost certainly seen his last snap in a Buccaneers uniform, and who knows what the teams plans are for Charles Sims. Even if they chose to re-sign Sims, they very well could look to add a proven running back and then still draft one in the first three rounds.

Question: Do you have faith in the Bucs free agent evaluation, and what position group would you focus on in free agency this year?

Answer: It hasn’t been overwhelming recently, but if you are building a team through free agency there are much deeper problems. I know Licht has been under tremendous scrutiny from a lot of Bucs fans as of late, and some with merit, but we tend to be hyper focused on the team we follow. I couldn’t name you five free agents that a team like say the Broncos have signed over the last 10 years. So I couldn’t even begin to grade John Elway’s success. Does that make sense?

The success rate of free agents is probably less than the success rate of the draft. And we can’t fault the Glazers for not being willing to spend money. Vincent Jackson, Eric Wright, Carl Nicks, Anthony Collins, Josh McCown, Alterraun Verner and the list goes on.

Jacksonville did a tremendous job as of late with free agents and it panned out. However without also the terrific drafting success, it would not have resulted in reaching the AFC title game on Sunday. The more free agents you sign, the more you are admitting you made draft mistakes.

I will say, despite being burned by guys like Michael Johnson and even Chris Baker to a degree, Licht should keep swinging. And with contracts set up in the way the Buc do with many, they have stayed in great cap shape.

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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]

17 COMMENTS

  1. No Fly Zone in Denver; Talib and Ward were free agents there. That is already way better than the Bucs. Look at all the Free Agents on that Eagles D last night, about half those guys are on their second team and 2 in the secondary are from the Saints.

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    • And of course, Talib was a Buccaneer, so in a sense he wasn’t better than the Bucs…Tampa let him go. I know he had issues, but I do wonder how much better we’d have been had we kept Michael Bennet, Aquib Talib, and Matt Bryant.

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  2. When I saw the picture of Sims heading the article my first thought was please God no! Barber is the only back worth keeping. Resigning Grimes would not be the right move. Time has caught up with him. He missed time due to injury, but if you watched closely he’s horrible in run support, move on. Yes he’s our best corner, but that says more about how bad our other corners are, then how good he actually is. So if the front office thinks they can get by resigning Grimes, and Sims at two positions of need, don’t expect much improvement from last year.

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    • The reason I dont think resigning Grimes is a great idea is because Mike smith is returning. He is by far the best of the corners in this system, but that doesnt mean its necessary. Look at all the corners playing in this soft zone mess of a defense. Until they get at least 2 pass rushers who can disrupt the qbs timing the corner position can be filled by anyone who can line up 15 yards off and run. I mean smith was given an 11th overall corner, 4th rounder, 2nd round safety, ward etc. Of course no corners will look good when qb has all day to throw. N of course weve seen smith will not snap out of that cover 2 and blitz linebackers and safeties. So IF they sign at least 2 DEs first then Maybe a corner. This D is soft, not remotely aggressive, and predictable. For a coordinator who is scared to get beat by the big play he still repeatedly got beat by the big play. Anyway Im rambling about smith again, tryin to cut down. Wish theyd fire him and hire LaBeau and give us a reason to be hopeful. DEs and Oline and RB. Repeat.

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    • You mean the guy Licht drafted over 3x Pro Bowl Guard Trai Turner or 2x Pro Bowl RB Devonta Freeman in 2014 shouldn’t be resigned at all costs?!

      I thought Licht was a draft genius to make up for his shoddy free agent signings and roster building, so naturally Charles Sims would be one of the better players available at his draft slot that year….right?!

      Imagine if the GM/Doofus took either of those players instead of drafting a 23 year old 5th year senior RB who had just finished playing for his second collegiate team. All of the sudden you can cross out RB or Guard off the list of needs for this team.

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      • 23 year old 5th year senior RB’s are hot commodities in the draft…right Surferdudes?

        I know I’d feel much better taking one than a junior entry RB from a national champion who had just had a better year with higher ypr, more TD’s and roughly the same yards rushing for an elite school than the stud playing his first year out of Conference USA.

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  3. Please No Guard with the 7th Pick!!! Only if he is the best player available at 7 and we cant trade down. We have way too many more important positions to fill and Guard’s are almost never worth a 7th overall pick. GO BUCS!!!

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  4. “Licht should keep swinging”

    I would love if we signed Ezekiel Ansah and Trumaine Johnson.

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  5. Guess I’m going to take some ka ka for this but…… shouldn’t the Buccaneers focus on signing the players already here they want to keep long term? There are a LOT of contracts coming up that will take big money and certainly quickly evaporate the existing CAP space. Players like Winston, Evans, Alexander, Marpet, Brate and yes, Donovan Smith. I KNOW Koetter/Licht are under the gun to win and win now but signing older veterans for big money might be a hindrance to long term health. So, unless the Buccaneers can find a top FA still in his prime, mid 20’s in age (23-27) like a Hardy Nickerson, I’m not sure it’s worth the gamble. Problem is, Koetter/Licht might be more worried about their jobs than long term Buccaneer success. In fact, how couldn’t they be?

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    • Garv: Well stated.

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    • Garv, the majority of these free agent contracts include 2 years of guaranteed salary and after that the remaining years are window-dressing.

      So while Winston is going into his 4th season he has a 5th year option the team will most certainly exercise. Meaning Winston is not in need of renegotiation for the next two years, so the team can go out and sign some big money players who, if they fail to work out will be off the roster by the time Winston is ready for a big money extension. Evans will cost a pretty penny, but Alexander (LB), Marpet (G/C), Brate (TE) play nonpremium positions which will keep their salaries higher but reasonable. Donovan Smith is mediocre, has remained as roughly the same player he was as a rookie, and unlikely to get a big money LT deal from another team.

      Also if you are hanging onto your job by a thread, and Licht and Koetter most certainly are, using up current cap space to lock up players already under contract to longer term deals in lieu of adding outside talent to the 2018 roster seems like a dubious proposition for their prospects of an extension. Not that I am against it, I just wouldn’t be focusing on that right now if I were them.

      The plumbing may need to be fixed but if the house is on fire, a plumber isn’t the first call you make as a homeowner.

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      • Still, add all those players up and it’s a LOT of CAP dollars. I do think better of Donovan Smith than you do. He’s durable, young and even as an average LT will command a lot of money if he ever hit FA. But you make good points, no doubt.

        Again, my concern is ownership has put Koetter/Licht in the position of win now at all costs and that can’t help but negatively affect long term health and success.

        Going to be an interesting offseason for SURE. No matter how it plays out.

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  6. Mark, I agree that fans here hyper focus on this team at the exclusion of the rest of the NFL, but I strongly disagree that it would make them more critical of Licht, as the opposite generally happens.

    North Korea for example isn’t trying to clamp down on any outside media and keep it’s citizens from knowing about or traveling to the outside world because it worries that doing so would make North Koreans more likely to appreciate them.

    When you are ignorant to the rest of the world you tend to accept/favor the surroundings you find yourself in. This is why dictators generally like to control the media, and it’s why many Bucs fans who are oblivious to the rest of the NFL keep pointing to one good move Licht or Dominik would make and consistently point to the next year as 10-6 year regardless of whether it’s Josh Freeman, Josh McCown or Jameis Winston QB’ing the team.

    Ignorance is bliss as they say. And ignorance would be a failure to know that the NFC Pro Bowl roster has 43 spots on it, with 17 injury replacements this year and counting. That leads to a total of 60 spots for a 16 team conference, meaning the average NFC squad would represent just under 4 players chosen (3.75). Ignorance is seeing Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander being selected as some evidence of competence and ignoring the fact that it’s actually 2 spots below average.

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    • Ya know, when I think of the Bucs Front office and owners, I am reminded of North Korea and the oppression that they represent. Why, just last week, I remember when Kim jong un was inducted into our ring of honor, as I looked on from my designated position in the marching parade. I hope Goodell doesn’t find out that “new practice facility” is actually a nuclear silo.

      Come on Dev, what are we talking about here?

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      • Did I compare the team to North Korea? No, but I guess if all you read is “North Korea” I guess what you posted makes some modicum of sense.

        Let me help you out here Destino: People that don’t know better accept what they have, because they do not know better and cannot compare it to other things.

        Ignorant fans who only follow their own team and no other teams do not have an ability to compare or contrast the competency of those running their teams because they are unfamiliar with the moves of other gm’s or their success or failures.

        Did that make sense to you now that I didn’t type “North Korea”?

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  7. Call Derek Brooks as football operations v.p. they need alot of help in that front office imo

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  8. This is a question, not an endorsement Mark, but you all say the devil you know is sometimes better than the one you don’t. I read an article on another site about the positives of keeping Baker. We need D-Line help, no question. If just don’t want to let him go and then be stuck with players who aren’t even as good as he was. And is Baker the type of player who would catch fire and play with more passion knowing he is on the hot seat.

    How many players have we let go only to find ourselves worse because of it…Lynch, Sapp, Penn, Bennett, Talib, Bryant. Baker is by no means in that category. But step one in getting better is not getting worse. Would be interested in knowing your thoughts. Thanks

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