The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. 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 PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.
Question: Who’s the priority to re-sign next season with the salary cap expected to be reduced by $25 million?
Answer: Ryan Griffin, of course. I kid, although somehow Griffin will return for what feels like his 15th season in Tampa Bay.
Looking over the list of free agents slated to become unrestricted following this year, it is a long one with 22 players currently on the roster who won’t have a contract once the league year ends. There will be some tough decisions ahead for Jason Licht, and really most GMs around the league.
Of the 22 free agents, I think wide receiver Chris Godwin and linebacker Lavonte David are the two biggest offseason priorities for this team. Godwin is entering his prime, and the fact that injuries have limited his production some this season could work in the Bucs favor when offering a new deal. Of course, if Breshad Perriman got $8 million from the Jets, we know there is a team out there likely willing to double that for Godwin.
While David isn’t a spring chicken in terms of football years, he is playing as well this season as he has in his previous nine seasons. I remember years ago how the Bucs rarely offered draft picks second contracts, and now here we are with David on the verge of getting his third deal with the Buccaneers. Kudos to former GM Mark Dominik for this one.
After those two it will likely come down to value free agent signings. Tight end Rob Gronkowski and Ndamukong Suh likely are luxuries at this point in terms of returning, and that’s even if either one want to. Especially if the Bucs were to win a Super Bowl, we could see both walk away from football, going out on top.
Then there are some players who will be auditioning for next season over the next six games. Receiver Antonio Brown could be back depending on how the remainder of the season goes, and same with Leonard Fournette. The big question will be how much interest there is from other teams and which of those teams have available cap space. And their production will determine what their market value is as well.
And the biggest question I believe is, what happens with Shaq Barrett? Barrett won’t come close to his 2019 league-leading 19.5 sacks this year, yet hasn’t played poorly. Finding the right market value for him could be difficult and there could be a team out there willing to pay him based off of his 2019 production, gambling he returns to form.
Question: A lot of griping by fans because Bucs didn’t score more TDs. Am I missing something? The Bucs scored on six possessions in the second half and outscored the Panthers by 23 points. Is settling for field goals a concern or do some fans just like to complain?
Answer: Any time your punter’s leg gets stiff from sitting on the bench, that is a good thing. Yes, Bradley Pinion handles kickoffs and was quite busy, but you get my point. It’s hard to argue with a 23-point win and a game where a team never had to punt.
As far as settling for field goals, the Bucs were just a little off in their red zone sharpness against Carolina. The Bucs were the best team in the league in terms of goal-to-go prior to the Saint game, scoring touchdowns on 100 percent of their trips inside the 10-yard line in goal-to-go situations.
Even after stubbing their toe somewhat on Sunday they are still close to tops in the league. But they will need to be better over the next two weeks as they will be facing dangerous teams in Los Angeles and Kansas City. Kicking field goals instead of touchdowns likely gets you beat.
Question: Is Tampa Bay considering benching Jamel Dean? He’s looked absolutely lost and confused and it’s clear teams are trying to target him.
Answer: I can’t see the Bucs benching Dean, mainly because they don’t really have any alternatives. As much as Dean has struggled as of late, would the team be better off with Ryan Smith or Russ Cockrell? I think I will take a struggling Dean over those options.
I suppose defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could really shake things up and maybe move safety Antoine Winfield Jr. inside in nickel and put Sean Murphy-Bunting back outside, but then that disrupts the safety lineup, so I wouldn’t expect any radical changes coming.
Dean hasn’t forgotten how to play football. He has excelled at times, but for whatever reason he hasn’t been as disciplined with his eyes and technique. That is on him and he needs to get back to the basics and play within the scheme and not try to be the hero. The talent is there, as we’ve seen it late last year and even earlier this season, but the consistency is lacking.
Question: How can the Bucs avoid another primetime disaster, especially with the Rams, riding high after a win over Seattle, coming to town?
Answer: Petition the league to change it to a 1 p.m. start? And since that won’t happen, I am not sure what the team can do.
I don’t really buy the start time thing being a factor. Both teams face the same disadvantage with the game starting at night so it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. I don’t believe the result of last week’s Saints game would have been any different if it were a day game instead of at night, but the Bucs haven’t experienced many nationally-televised prime time games over the last 12 years, so maybe there is a bit of a learning curve.
I think we see a much different team next Monday night, as the team will be more used to the altered late-day schedule, plus add in the fact it is a huge conference game that could have a significant impact on the NFC playoff picture in January, and I think we see the Bucs’ best.
And one more factor is, the Bucs haven’t looked great in prime time, and definitely want to show the country they are a much better team than they displayed in their 38-3 loss to the Saints. These players have pride and know their peers are watching. I’m guessing they would love the chance to make amends for some lackluster efforts this year.