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. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Have the latest FA signings taken us out of the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes?
Answer: I would say yes, not that they were really ever in the Bell sweepstakes. And is there even a sweepstakes for Bell, who I think is the best running back in the NFL? The Steelers are in a tough spot for sure. They franchised Bell, and would like to get him signed to a long-term deal, and they also know his value and what he brings to that offense. I suppose if Bell becomes extremely agitated at the lack of a long-term contract and decides to hold out this offseason and into next year, the Steelers would entertain the idea of moving him, but it would take quite a haul for that to happen, and I am not sure the Bucs value him enough to make a deal, at this point. I really thought that the only way to get Bell, and it was a long shot, was to hope the Steelers wouldn’t franchise him and he hit the free agent market.
My opinion is, the Bucs feel like the money it would take to sign Bell if they traded for him and make him happy, could be better used to lock up some guys of their own like Ali Marpet, Kwon Alexander and next year Jameis Winston.
Question: Derwin James has the higher ceiling than Minkah Fitzpatrick no? Has the versatility to play many spots. Who is the best pick at 7 in your mind out of Denzel Ward, Vita Vea, Fitzpatrick, James or Quenton Nelson?
Answer: It is no secret I am a big fan of James. I think he is a game changer as a rookie, as much with his attitude as his athletic ability. He will have the “Jalen Ramsey” effect on whatever team ends up drafting him. I think Scott Reynolds made a good case for him in last week’s Fab 5.
I would rank the options you gave me as: Nelson, James, Ward, Fitzpatrick and then Vea. That is how I would rank them, not the Buccaneers, although I don’t think I am far off from their thinking either. Nelson is the safest pick. He is someone who most likely steps right is as a starter and if he avoids injury, you won’t have to worry about one of your guard spots for years. He is as solid of a prospect at that position than probably Zack Martin was, another great Notre Dame product who has been a Pro Bowler since his rookie season and also a first or second-team All-Pro each year.
My only hesitation is that he is a guard. Important in the grand scheme for sure, but I still hesitate to draft a guard at No. 7. A left tackle? Sure. Really almost any other position, but a guard? I think if guard is a priority, and obviously the Bucs value guards by drafting Marpet early, and signing Sweezy a couple years back, and Martin is there, then you pull the trigger. But again, can you find a guard who can be good later in the draft? It is just more difficult to find say a franchise left tackle, or pass rushing defensive end out of the first round than it is to find a guard. It is kind of like the running back debate, is there value for a running back in the Top 10, or is it smarter to wait until the second or third round?
I am sure many disagree, and I would totally get it and not have a problem if the Bucs made Nelson the pick.
Question: Question: Are they going into next year with the belief Ryan Smith and VH3 can hold down the CB2 and SCB and if so, is that a recipe for disaster? In your opinion, which position is the one in most need of an upgrade. For me, it’s a dead heat between CB and RB.
Answer: I wouldn’t necessarily say disaster, but it would be a huge gamble at this point based on what we have seen from Smith and Hargreaves so far in their young careers. Both players have shown flashes of what the Bucs hope they can be, but neither have shown the consistency the team would like either.
And, I agree, both of those positions are the two that still need to be addressed the most moving forward. I think cornerback is the biggest need still, and not just for this year, but moving forward. I am as big a Brent Grimes fan as you will find, but time catches up with everyone and it is nipping at Grimes’ heels. Even if his talent doesn’t drop off, we know Grimes isn’t far off from walking off in the sunset and retiring. That is only one side of the defense and for really just one more year. Re-signing Grimes was just a temporary solution and fix, and that is if he can stay healthy for 16 games. I think the Bucs aren’t done with bringing in some more cornerbacks, possibly in free agency still and most certainly in the draft.
I think the Bucs do address running back early, and this year looks to be a solid class of backs. Saquon Barkey is easily the cream of the crop, but good value can be had in the second round. Sony Michel, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny and others could be available in the second round when the Bucs pick. After the second round though, you see a bit of a drop off and the Bucs would be gambling I believe to wait later than the second round. They do think Peyton Barber has a chance to be a 1,000-yard back, but he certainly isn’t a home run threat or one that will keep opposing defensive coordinators up late at night.
Question: Clinton McDonald signed with Denver, it was sad to see him leave because of the type of person he is off the field. That got me thinking, who are the top 5 Bucs players who are great people off the field? (Past or present)
Answer: That is tough to narrow down just five guys. There have been a ton over the years, some that got some credit and others who quietly made a difference. In the old creamsicle days, guys like David Lewis, Mark Cotney, Charley Hannah and others were part of a group of players who were big contributors to organizations like the March of Dimes, The Boys and Girls Club, and the United Way. I remember the commercials that ran as a kid and actually have a lot of old games from that era that have been transferred to DVD that still have some of those spots.
Of course, older Bucs fans will remember Ricky Bell and his relationship with a young man that turned into a CBS made-for-TV movie starring Mario Van Peebles. Bell, like may of the players of that era, did much for the community that got little fanfare due to no social media back then.
The modern era of Buccaneers players saw many others who also gave of themselves, probably most notably Derrick Brooks in his endeavors with the United Way and other charities including his own school. Others like Martin Gramatica who provides homes for wounded veterans and of course the Mike Alstott Family Foundation and Vincent Jackson’s work with the military, are still making an impact in the Tampa Bay area. Now several current Buccaneers like Jameis Winston and his Dream Forever Foundation and Mike Evans new foundation, among others, are keeping the tradition of serving the community well.
A big pet peeve of mine, and one thing I have personally tried to show our readers, is the work the players do that don’t get the same attention as the negative headlines. From Gerald McCoy and the defensive line providing bikes at Christmas time to the offensive line providing over 1,000 meals at Thanksgiving to the needy, there is so much more good these guys do than bad.
Are there some jerks in the locker room of all NFL teams? You bet, but I truly believe the good outweighs the bad by a mile.
But, if I had to pick just one though, it would be the work Tony Dungy has done. Not only his charitable work makes a difference still, but many of the players who played under Dungy were inspired to help others. Alstott who helped us in a community bowling fundraiser last summer said coach Dungy challenged all his players to find a way to make the Tampa Bay area better. I know I am leaving out several, and not intentionally. And many former and current players like Demar Dotson, Pat Murray, Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate, Alan Cross and Dwight Smith have all participated in some of the charity events put on by Pewter Report and Pin Chasers along with Ford’s Garage over the last couple years.
There is, and was, a lot of great men that played for this franchise that Bucs fans should be proud to root for.