It is time for another edition of the Bucs’ Monday Mailbag, where PewterReport.com answers reader submitted questions each and every Monday. you can submit your questions via Twitter by using #PRMailbag.

Question: What is the status of Mike Evans contract extension? When we will see him locked up by the Bucs?

Answer: All is quiet on the western front these days. Or the Tampa front at least. Neither party seems to be overly concerned or in a huge hurry to get it done. That doesn’t mean they don’t want it done, it just means this isn’t heading towards any type of nasty holdout or confrontation.

The Bucs are not going to lose Mike Evans who will be playing on his fourth year of his rookie deal, and the team has already picked up his fifth year option for 2018. Evans knows he will – and wants  to be – a Buccaneer for a long time, if not his whole career. The team and Evans sees the bright future this organizations appears at this point to have and to be building, with Evans being a huge building block.

Right now One Buc is pretty much a ghost town, with players, coaches and front office people taking their last vacation until 2018. Things will start getting back to normal mid-to-late July and it wouldn’t surprise me to see negotiations between Jason Licht and Evans’ agent being to heat up. I am guessing both sides have already kind of thrown some numbers around, so they have a starting point to negotiate a deal. Again, I would not be surprised at all to see the team announce a new contract for Evans just before or early in the preseason. And even if not then, I wouldn’t be alarmed and think both sides keep the lines of communication open during the season and at the very least see it wrapped up early in 2018 at the latest.

Question: Who is the one person that the Bucs passed on in the draft that looking back you wish the Bucs would have drafted?

Answer: Well everyone knows I was a big fan of  FSU’s Dalvin Cook and think he will have a tremendous rookie season, but I completely understand why the Buccaneers took O.J. Howard. Howard really helps open things up as far as Dirk Koetter’s playbook and will keep defenses on their toes, especially when the Bucs line up with two tight ends. The threat of pass or run with that set will keep defensive coordinators up the night before games, studying tape trying to find some tendencies.

Time will tell if the Bucs made the right decision to pass on Cook, not so much in the first round, but instead in the second round where Cook was still available on the second night of the draft. Instead the Bucs went with safety Justin Evans who was held out of the majority of the offseason workouts. The Bucs brass loved Cook’s talent, but there were some legitimate concerns off the field. It doesn’t mean they will be a hinderance over his career, but the concerns were real and with good reason.

Let’s take a look at this in three years and see where things are. I am guessing the Bucs and the Vikings will both be pleased with the way things turned out.

Question: How  is Chris Conte supposedly beating out the others for one of the safety spots?! He’s too slow, and always a step late to the catch.

Answer: The Chris Conte situation is much like the offensive line situation. Fans are going to have their opinions, despite what the front office and the coaching staff say. He was disliked in Chicago by most Bears fans, and some of the hate has carried over to his Tampa career. However, by the Bucs signing him in the offseason, and allowing Bradley McDougald to walk in free agency, their opinion of what Conte brings to the table are much different than his critics in the stands. Is Conte a Pro Bowl talent? Most likely no, at least as far as what he has shown throughout his career thus far, but is a starting caliber player in the NFL? Bucs coaches obviously say, yes.

Now part of the reason that Conte has been with the first team throughout the offseason is that he and Keith Tandy have stayed healthy, unlike the others on the roster. So far it hasn’t really been a competition. Conte and Tandy are starting essentially by default for now. Although Tandy earned the right to enter the offseason as a starter based on his play last year, notching four interceptions and sealing two wins with game ending picks.

Once everyone gets healthy, the real battle will begin. But if Conte ends ups starting Week 1 in Miami, then he has earned the job in the eyes of the coaches, despite the opinion of the fans.

Question: If the RBs don’t play up to expectations in preseason, could we see Licht grabbing a vet RB via FA or trade?

Answer: The only way the Bucs make any surprise moves at running back prior to the start of the season is if there is a rash of injuries at that position during camp. The front office and staff are very content to start the season with Doug Martin, Jaquizz Rodgers, Jeremy McNichols and Peyton Barber as the top guys. I really can’t imagine the play of the running backs not being up to par, and again, unless there are a couple serious injuries, I think the Bucs stand pat.

Question: Three of the Bucs draft picks, Justin Evans, Kendell Beckwith and Jeremy McNichols missed much if not all of the offseason workouts due to injuries. Which of the three do you think makes the most noise during training camp, and the upcoming season?

Answer: That is tough to say, as an injury in front of them could send one of the three into a starting role. If I had to pick one, perhaps Evans is the one that might see the field the most, but some of my opinion is based on he is the healthiest of the three at this point. I think one point that needs to be made however, is this football team, for the first time in a long time, didn’t need to draft impact players in the first few rounds that have to step in right away and be counted on to play the majority of the season. Imagine that. A Bucs team that actually has some solid depth and can take a little time to develop a football player. I don’t know that a few seasons ago, the Bucs take a player like Beckwith, who even if healthy, would be on the field no more than 40 percent as the Bucs most likely line up in nickel a majority of the time. At least not move up in the draft to get him. I think that speaks volumes about what Licht and his staff have been able to accomplish over the last few seasons. That doesn’t mean the team isn’t expecting these three to contribute, it just means they aren’t pressured to do so at this point.

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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, the beach and family time.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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tnew
tnew
5 years ago

Dalvin Cook was one of my big wants this draft as well, but I had him in a trade back situation. When Howard fell, they had to take him. I hear a lot of mention on how the Bucs “could’ve” traded up and picked up Cook in the second, but I just don’t see it unless we were willing to pass on Godwin and Evans. Based on what it took to move up in the second, it would have likely taken that second and third to move up to pick Cook. By the looks of the draft, the Bucs would’ve… Read more »

chetthevette
chetthevette
5 years ago

Mark, we can hem and haw all we want about draft picks we should of pulled the trigger on.
There are plenty to choose from. But here is the one that rubs me raw.
Mark Barron. I was ready to jab an ice pick in my arm after that pick.
Imagine is Shciano took Luke Kuekly. And stil took Lavonte David too.
It’s a wet dream.
GO BUCS

WinstonMVP
WinstonMVP
5 years ago

If Mark Dominic drafted Luke Kuekly we would have probably one at least one more game in 2014 and wouldn’t been able to draft the Best thing (Player) in 2015 that ever happened to the Bucs. Jameis Winston. Anything that we would have been done Before Jameis (BJ) that was good for the team doesn’t matter now because they probably would have kept us from being able to draft Winston. All that matters is what happens after Jameis became a Buc. (AJ). Our whole history is now BJ (before Jameis) and AJ (after Jameis).

GO BUCS!!!

e
e
Reply to  WinstonMVP
5 years ago

The Bucs are on the shoulders of that mighty river of fate… I did literally whip off my Bucs t-shirt and throw it against the wall when Dominick went with Barron instead of Kuechly, though.

WinstonMVP
WinstonMVP
5 years ago

About the newest Pewter Poll. Somebody should have put the option of ” Not Concerned about any position” . Every position listed has been upgraded in someway over last year either with more experience, depth or talent. Of course we wont really know till the season has played out but. GO BUCS!!!

Iowabucfan
Iowabucfan
Reply to  WinstonMVP
5 years ago

Good point Winstonmvp. Not concerned is my vote also. Go Bucs!

martinii
martinii
5 years ago

I have analyzed this Buc’s Team 9 ways to Sunday, and purely from a novice fan perspective I hope 1) Jameis continues improving which should affect 2) Our new group of receivers and Tight Ends, That should affect our 3) Running game. Add to that 4) a more mature improved OL and Collectively that should result in 5) More Points and Sustained drives. More points and sustained drives affects 6) the Time the Defense is on the Field and not having to play from behind and allows the Offense the ability to open up the play book and not be… Read more »

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

I’m a lot more concerned about our defense than the offense. We aren’t a very big team on defense; that still bothers me, but maybe I’ll warm up to it if our turnover ratio is a plus. Go Bucs!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

Don’t tell me you have “Defense Envy.” The LB’s are smallish by design. The D-line is bigger with the signing of Chris Baker and apparently you didn’t see Stevie T blocking out the sun. Compare our defense to others and you’ll see it’s not so small.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

i was referrng to pass rushers, but didn’t actually say it as I thought most understood what I was referring to. I don’t see Spence and J. smith stopping the run if they are on the field; with the hurry up offense the OL will run over them as their RB plows over them. I do realize Scu everything I usually say you criticize. I want the Bucs to win every game, but I’m not buying into the cool aid yet. We are most definitely a 9-7 team; with some luck and few injuries we could be a 11-5 team… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

Wasn’t meant as a criticism. Your statement was that you were concerned because, “we aren’t a very big team on defense.” I was merely pointing out that ours is comparable to most others. Spence and Smith (edge rushers) may play mostly on passing downs. They compare to Mack (Raiders) and Miller (Broncos). The probable starting line-up of Ayers, McCoy, Baker and Gholston is plenty big enough.

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

Mark, I believe you were right in your reference to some, not many Buc fans know Chris Conte from the bad rap he received in Chicago. They see only what they want their eyes to see. Has Conte been beaten by WR’s, yes he has, like the majority of other safeties have been in this league when they are left in one on one coverage. Is he slow. I don’t think so and most of the people who bad mouth him don’t really know hw fast he is either. I do know he was fast enough last year to come… Read more »

Iowabucfan
Iowabucfan
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

Good point. Didn’t he also make a game changing interception against the Chiefs?

jp414
jp414
Reply to  Iowabucfan
5 years ago

Yes, and a pick 6 the week before that vs the Bears. He’s never even had a season without at least one INT & usually at least 2 or 3. Very similar numbers to Harrison Smith (except for sacks), who is one of the highest paid FS in the league. Like Conte, he’s a good tackler who can shift to SS and play 10 yards off the line when he needs to.

jp414
jp414
5 years ago

Fans second guessing Mike Smith/Jason Licht on personnel decisions always makes me laugh. Unless you are in the meetings, at practices, know the defensive scheme, and are at the film breakdowns after games, how do you know whether a Conte is worth his paycheck? With WRs, it’s more obvious – if a WR rarely gets open, drops a lot of catchable balls, etc., then anybody can stand on firm ground in pointing a finger. With safeties, it’s not clear at all unless you know the scheme and know the strengths/weaknesses of all the competing talents. Some fans like to pretend… Read more »

Rut
Rut
Reply to  jp414
5 years ago

It doesn’t take an NFL exec to see Conte is a bottom rung safety in the NFL. He gets beat badly and often. He plays well as a strong safety because he has the quickness to succeed in a short zone, and he has good vision against the run. Also tackles well near the line of scrimmage. But my god he has no business covering deep. He struggles mightily staying with receivers in man coverage, he just doesn’t have the speed to keep up. And this isn’t just against quick receivers like the Cardinals burned us with last year. He… Read more »

jp414
jp414
Reply to  Rut
5 years ago

Damn, reply button issue. Please see below for my comment, Rut.

jp414
jp414
5 years ago

I really don’t understand where you get this impression. I think it likely chalks up to the reputation Conte had in Chicago; fans there complained about him, and that simply followed him to Tampa. I took a look at the All-22 footage from two of the games you mentioned (Cards & Raiders) , and from the Broncos game. Conte had a total of 3 plays where he allowed his guy a reception or appeared to screw up in coverage: a pass interference against Taylor (Broncos) in the end zone, the 68-yard play to Odawale (Raiders) and the TD pass to… Read more »

Rut
Rut
Reply to  jp414
5 years ago

I don’t have access to the All-22 but golly you don’t even need it for the Cardinals games. Just go watch the highlights. Nearly every big play for the cards in that game, Conte is out of position and desperately running back to the area he should have been covering. The first TD the cards were in the red zone with the bucs seemingly playing cover 0. Conte bites hard on the play action leaving the end zone right behind him wide open for fitz. I’m not going to completely knock a guy for biting on play action, it happens.… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

I will admit the Cardinals game wasn’t his best outing, but the team got beat 40-7 and I don’t think any Buc player had a highlight reel game that day or did you forget there were 21 other players on the field other than Conte. Rut, the one point I made you failed to address is the fact there isn’t a safety in the league who can cover the other teams fastest WR in one on one coverage. Can you tell me one who can. In the Cards and Raiders games, that was exactly who Conte was left to cover.… Read more »

Rut
Rut
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

I see what you’re saying but you’re putting g words in my mouth. I never blamed this teams woes on Conte. I’m just saying he’s a shit safety. We need a better one. That cards game was horrible, all around bad day indeed. I should know. I watched it here in Arizona with my Vincent Jackson jersey on in a bar filled with Cards fans lol not my proudest moment. The redemption? Watching the Seahawks game in that same bar months later. Guess who didn’t play in that game? Hmm. Just saying though, you can pick apart Conte tape and… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

The irony here JP414 is we could have had Harrison Smith or for that matter Luke Kueckly if the former brainiac of a GM, Mark Dominick, hadn’t picked the stiff of a safety known as Mark Barron.
Does anyone wonder why Dominick can’t get a job in the front office of any NFL team after the huge mistakes he made in the draft.
He proved for a fact that even a blind squirrel can find an acorn when he selected Keith Tandy in the fifth round.

Freeman Strickland
Freeman Strickland
5 years ago

Question: Who is the one person that the Bucs passed on in the draft that looking back you wish the Bucs would have drafted?

The Bucs were right to take Howard in the first. I wish that they would have moved up to take Budda Baker in the second. Reading the current Cover 3 article further convinces me that he is the kind of smart, quick playmaker who would play brilliantly in the Bucs scheme.

Rut
Rut
Reply to  Freeman Strickland
5 years ago

I would agree, I liked Baker. I’m not really big on the Evans pick. Obviously I hope he works out, but he really doesn’t feel like a good scheme fit to me. Fingers crossed!

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

Rut, I would suggest that if you continue watching the Buc games at whatever dive you are viewing them at, you start ordering Diet Coke instead of adult beverages. The alcohol is apparently not only affecting your sight, but your memory as well. You implied Conte didn’t play in the Seahawks game but I believe he played in most of it until he sustained a chest injury in the fourth quarter. I guess you couldn’t come up with the name of a safety who could cover the other teams top WR one on one since I asked the question twice… Read more »

Rut
Rut
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

Ah yes I’m going off memory on that one, and it apparently did not serve me well. Conte was not a factor in that game either way. There lies a perfect example of our defense not needing him in order to have a sensational game. I get the feeling this is turning a little personal. I hope Conte isn’t a friend or family of yours! If so, I apologize. Try to remember these are just football opinions, man. As for answering your question, do you mean better coverage safeties in the nfl or just the bucs? As for the NFL… Read more »

owlykat
owlykat
5 years ago

Couldn’t agree more, Rut. Evans is a poor tackler and tries to hit high which just invites penalties and suspensions. I understand he flows well as a free Safety, but he is also hurt and that does not speak well for durability. With such negatives the gamble on him was too big for wasting a second round pick on him. When he gets well he is going to be a big project for our Coaches to try and fix. I would have moved up and grabbed Cook or gotten Buddha Baker–what was Licht thinking?

drdneast
drdneast
4 years ago

Conte wasn’t a factor in that game because the Bucs has a decent pass rush and he was doing his job so Russell didn’t go his way, Of course that didn’t occur to you, did it. Believe me, Conte is no family member, I just don’t like to see any player maligned by some bar stool GM who reads a few scouting reports on the internet and then regurgitates them like they are his own observations. I have seen plenty of that out here plus a very select few who try to find one player they can try to make… Read more »