The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport 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: Would you rather have Gerald McCoy at his salary or Le’Veon Bell, and who would have a bigger impact if they were on the roster next year?

Answer: If forced to pick one it would be Le’Veon Bell. But at the money Bell is going to get, which is likely around $14 million per year, I don’t see how the Buccaneers can afford him. Of course keeping Gerald McCoy at his current salary, which is scheduled to be at $13 million, will also be very difficult for cap-strapped Tampa Bay.

I think if you see the Bucs pursue Bell, then that gives you an indication of their plans, and that would be Super Bowl or bust – like this year. We have all sort of figured the Bruce Arians hire is a short-term, win soon type of hire due to his age (66), and it most likely is. Stretching themselves to the brink salary cap-wise to sign Bell would tell me the Bucs think they can win it all soon.

Because no matter how good your salary cap management is, if you continue to dish out large money in free agency, the house of cards will eventually fall, and you’ll need to blow it all up or at least semi-start over to a degree. I think the Los Angeles Rams will find that to be the case soon, as will the Philadelphia Eagles and a handful of other teams.

A big part of that issue is when a team’s young, drafted quarterback gets to that second contract. The Bucs are at that point to a degree with Winston who signed a four-year $25.3 million rookie deal, but will now make almost that full amount in one season (2019 fifth-year option worth $20.922 million), and if signed to a long-term deal, he will make more that his total rookie deal just in one year.

I really like Bell and think he is the best running back in the NFL, but Tampa Bay would have to weigh things out. If the Bucs draft a running back in the second round with a first year salary of around $1.5 million, they would have to decide if Bell is essentially 12 times better than the rookie the team could draft? As he would cost Tampa Bay 12 times as much. If we see the Bucs pursue Bell, I believe that is an indication they are going all in on 2019.

Question: How much strategy can new coaches discuss with players when they meet/run into each other?

Answer:  Technically, none at all. But I am not sure how the NFL can regulate conversations. As long as it isn’t held on the practice field or in meeting rooms, I don’t know how the NFL could enforce it. I think if Jameis Winston wanted to pick up the phone and call Bruce Arians, how could the league stop that? Outside of requesting call logs, how would the NFL even know they had a conversation?

Bucs LB Lavonte David
Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo By: Mark Cook/PR

Or if Lavonte David is working out in the weight room and stops by the cafeteria for a protein shake and bumps into defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, who can keep them from talking football? Now Winston, Arians, Bowles and David wouldn’t want to go on a radio show and reveal any of that, as it could create problems with the league office.

With that said, February is mostly a really dead time for players at the facility and the coaches are in draft meetings and watching tape to prepare for free agency and the NFL Scouting Combine, which starts later this month. Winston for instance appears to be on a family vacation out in Colorado (according to social media posts), wide receiver Adam Humphries is golfing somewhere far from Florida and tight end Antony Auclair is in Canada with his family. So the opportunity to break an NFL rule isn’t even realistic for the most part.

I would guess some of that goes on around the league each offseason, but any specific strategy talk and supposed to be prohibited until April at the earliest when NFL offseason programs can begin.

Question: How do you see the draft playing out for the Bucs? Pick 5th or trade down?

Answer: The more mock drafts I read and the more people I speak with, this draft looks like a good one for Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht to drop down and pick up some extra draft picks this year and maybe next year. I say that because there are a ton of really good football players that will be available at No. 5, but the drop off from five to 15 doesn’t appear to be as steep as it has been in years past.

Of course it is still early, and the Bucs front office may have a “can’t miss” grade on someone who slips down to No. 5, and at that point the team would probably stand pat. Most likely the phone will be ringing hard on draft night and Licht will be a very popular guy at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month as teams – particularly QB needy teams – will be trying to gauge what it would take to move up to the Bucs’ spot.

But if I am a betting man, I put my chips on a trade down – just as Licht did in the first round in both 2016 and last year.

Question: Is it possible to turn this team into a sure-fire playoff team for more than one year? This team has adapted to that “losing culture, but we are still getting paid” mentality. Do you expect to see names get cut that maybe aren’t on your list of cuts?

Answer: There could always be a few surprise cuts, but no one jumps out to me at this point other than the ones like DeSean Jackson, Gerald McCoy, Beau Allen, etc. that we have suggested could be cap casualties.

As I mentioned earlier in an answer, how this team approaches free agency will tell us a lot about Tampa Bay’s mindset for its long-term strategy. Ultimately all teams want to set themselves up for stability for the long haul, but there are teams who see their window of opportunity shrinking and their offseason can reveal their plans to a degree.

UTSA DE Marcus Davenport - Photo by: Jeff Heuhn
UTSA DE Marcus Davenport – Photo by: Jeff Heuhn

Look at the Saints last April, giving up this year’s No. 1 to move up to select defensive end Marcus Davenport. To me it was Sean Payton and the Saints front office suggesting that they were are a pass rusher away from getting to the Super Bowl. Drew Brees can’t play forever, and New Orleans seems to always be in a salary cap dilemma and know the window to reaching the pinnacle is shrinking. The Saints gambled, and if not for an awful missed call in the NFC Championship game, they would have been facing the New England Patriots in Atlanta for the Super Bowl – and not the Rams.

I love the NFL offseason. From now until the draft, things are fluid and exciting and we at PewterReport.com know to never be too far away from our computer for breaking news.

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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]

54 COMMENTS

  1. UCF is the real National Champion

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  2. I guess Leveon Bell is so awesome he really doesn’t need blockers. You must be just as impressed with James Conner, So let’s trade our 1st round pick to the Steelers and get him. Come on Mark you are better than that.

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    • Amen. This stubborn insistence to ignore the OL’s role in any RB’s success is really confusing to me. Especially with all the evidence around the league of team’s with really good running games being successful with any RB who lines up in the backfield (Hunt/Ware/Damien Williams in KC, Bell/Connor in Pitt, hell even CJ Anderson’s sudden emergence as a NFL caliber RB again in LA after getting cut by multiple teams). We need to address the root of the problem first…then figure out the rest. Spending $14 mil on Bell and thinking the OL we’re trotting out there on Sundays will cut it would be a massive mistake and even worse, a huge waste of cap space that should be allocated to much bigger needs.

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      • I hope you guys aren’t the part of the same crowd already writing off Rojo as a dud.

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    • I gave you both a thumbs up but the question was McCoy or Bell, choose one. Not McCoy or Q. Nelson. He made his case for Bell. McCoy is all but finished. Sad, but true.

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      • Got a question for you Big Sombrero. I read how excited you were when some news came out about the Bucs possibly signing LT Donovan Smith. Right now who’s better Mcoy or Smith?

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        • That’s a damn good question!

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        • Easy: Donovan Smith. If they were matched up, he would shut down McCoy all game long(or however many plays McCoy was in for) and Winston wouldn’t even have to wash his uniform after the game.

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          • McCoys stat line would look like it did after most games last year:
            2 tackles, 0 QB hits, 0 QB sacks, 0 QB pressures, 0 batted passes.

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    • Mark didn’t say anything like that in this article did he, what is that supposed to mean?

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  3. Mark, who are you staying at 5 for? Meaning, who is worth denying a trade to take?

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  4. I too enjoy the off-season and the speculation and theories that come along with it, even the really stupid ones like the moron who suggested the Bugs wanted the Steelers WR diva for more money instead of the cheaper one we already had.
    Although the Gus aren’t breaking the cap ceiling, they sure were close and that was with a QB on a rookie contract.
    That tells me Light is overpaying players and not getting the results he should for that type of money.
    You have to look no further than Vinny Surrey as an example. When he was signed Curry had e sacks the preceding year and we paid him $8 million. Mitch Unrein was another. He had a history of concussion and we dished out $3.5 million to him and he didn’t play a snap.
    And finally, and I may catch heat for this, but Lavontae Davis made $10 million last year and basically all be did was tackle. My god, we could bring Jeff Davis back and be could do that to a tenth of the price.
    And finally we have McCoy, the apologist.
    Everybody loves to cite PFF as the bible to evaluate a players skill level so I will do the s e since it supports my arguement. I wouldn’t use it otherwise. PFF has McCoy ranked 29th out of all Dr’s in the league. At $13 million we should be able to get a better player who doesn’t look at awe of other QB’s and apologize to them when he hits them.

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    • For the record, Curry never sacked me. 🙂

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    • You must have been typing that on the fly Haha. You complain about Curry and Unreign which is proof how funny it is that people have such a short memory. If you remember last off-season the Dline was the weakest spot on the team, we had record low sacks and one of the worst in the league. So Licht went out and completely revamped the line and had 3 out of 4 new starters. Yes all the guys we brought in didn’t pan out but the effort was purposeful and overall successful. You can’t predict people getting hurt and can’t always blame the GM for that.

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    • Not sure why you got so many “thumbs down” Dr. D. You were correct with the lack of impact from the D-line F/A additions in Curry, Allen and Unrien. If one sought the opinion of Buc Ass Bob, draftee Vita Vea would be added to the mix of JAG’s. I’m betting the D-line and O-line are addressed this off season. Perhaps with Bruce and staff, the targets will prove to be more successful and/or perhaps better coaching will salvage the careers of players already on the roster.

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      • Thumbs down he received were for a simple reason. He attacked casual fan hero Gerald McCoy and aging weakside linebacker Lavonte David.

        Many fans on this board are living in a fantasy world where Gerald McCoy is the new Warren Sapp. Let me be blunt: Gerald McCoy never was, nor will he ever be, anywhere close to the player that Sapp was. He doesn’t even belong in the same conversation regarding impact to a defense. Gerald McCoy will be a footnote in the history of the Bucs.

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      • Scubog, agree with your comments; would like to add the thought that some of these players might be asked to take less if they want to be on this team.

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  5. Again the reminder without the fitzmagic wins at the beginning of the year this team has the worst record in the NFL they changed the entire coaching staff have to get rid of high-priced players to give Jameis Winston 21 million dollars
    Cleveland Cincinnati Chicago and the Giants are all getting better I understand all about Bruce Arians and all the excitement that’s going with him

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    • But if they fail to fix Jameis Winston which I think they will this team could actually get worse because the coaches that are familiar with the players are all gone. And there’s no cap space to get anybody any better.

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      • BOB; Winston doesn’t need fixing as much as you think; I do agree we need OL help which will improve the QB & RB positions.

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    • The Fitz wins yes, the loss’s that followed and an interception rate that rivaled Jameis also need to be factored in. I wouldn’t expect any NFL QB in the league to get those type of TD/INT stats, but if I did it would certainly should be a QB in his mid-twenties and not one with over a dozen years in the league. Bottom line, the Bucs changed their offense and coordinator in the off-season and it took the league about 3-4 games to figure it out – and to give him credit he does a much better on the long ball hitting a receiver in stride (i.e., DJax). He certainly didn’t have the same sync with the young receivers than Winston did. Wish him the best, but Fitz is not going to get a starting job unless it is a team to drafts a rookie and wants him to see how the game works. Horse, I’m not an expert, but have been reading consistently from the new staff about Winston having bad mechanics, stays in the pocket too long and even has his legs crossed on some plays. If it is easily fixed, Florida State didn’t care and Koetter has no clue on how to go about it. We’ll all know soon with three new voices in is head.

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  6. Slow news day…. nothing new here……

    With all our cap issues there’s no room for Bell’s contract, so that’s an obvious no.

    Trade down unless the big DT from Bama is there, pretty much a no brainer…..

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  7. I couldn’t find a time in Arians career that he brought in a high priced free agent running back. He seems to like drafting RB’s. Many were drafted in the 5th round or later.

    Willie Parker – Undrafted free agent
    Rashard Mendenhall – 1st round
    Vick Ballard – 5th round
    Stefan Taylor – 5th round
    Andre Ellington – 6th round
    David Johnson – 3rd round

    I’m betting he gets a guy in the 5th round this year to pair with RoJo and RFA Barber.

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  8. If the Bucs get the DT from Bama and he has the Sam learning curve as Vea, will people still talk trash? What if they cut McCoy, and the kid needs time to learn?….. I am all about them getting extra picks, instead of getting a star and drafting players for the future. They are maybe able to get more picks and maybe 2 or 3 make the team and play well from the beginning

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    • I would be willing to keep McCoy if he reduced his contract to 8 million and even that is overpaying for his above average services.

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    • Part of Quinnen’s appeal is he’s about as pro-ready as any DT that’s come out of college since GMC and Suh. He’s that good and, in all likelihood, an immediate impact player (and potential Pro Bowler) from day 1. That said, I’m perfectly fine keeping GMC a year and still drafting him. I know that might be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think that’s a bad problem to have, personally. Especially if we have the cap space for the season to keep GMC, it makes plenty of sense to me.

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    • Quinnen Williams is already twice the prospect Vita was. He’s way more polished and technically sound, even with Vea’s 1 year of NFL experience. Barring the unfortunate situation that Vita came into, I’m thoroughly confident that Q could come in and have at least the same production as Daron

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      • *mobile messed it up and I can’t seem to delete my comment. Anyways…*

        …Payne. Q and Vita would be an unbelievable pairing, causing chaos in the pocket for opposing QBs for years to come and as soon as next season. I would hope GMac is back on a restructure to help with that learning curve. Quinnen Williams is a can’t miss prospect that you don’t trade down if he’s still available. However, the odds of that happening is so slim, but I’m still holding out hope.

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    • Keep in mind that Vea most likely would have had a much better rating as a rookie had he not missed all of training camp plus 4 regular season games due to injury. That being said, I think pairing Williams or Oliver with Vea and a healthy Alexander and Beckwith immediately puts the Bucs’ front 7 among the league’s top 10.

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  9. I hope Tampa trades down. This team needs more hits in the draft both in terms of cap management and also to compensate for picks that did not pan out over the last couple years. All GM’s whiff on players so I am not going to take this time to shred Licht (although he’s not perfect), but this team is in a greater need of rising stars to fill out a roster in the next couple years to come. There are holes on both lines, secondary, and now this team needs LB, QB, and possibly WR depth.

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  10. In an interview on Bucs.com, BA said its a priority at linebacker to have big players that can run and when you have 4 of them on the field at the same time, that makes you a faster team on defense and also on special teams. This team is CLEARLY going to be a 3-4 team. Is a Lavonte David trade coming?

    McCoy, Nassib, and even JPP seem like 4-3 defensive linemen. I wouldn’t be surprised if any or all of them are on the trade block. He could overhaul this entire defense in the draft if they drop down from 5 twice and trade a few players. I bet he can get a 2nd for David, a 3rd for JPP, a 6th for McCoy.

    Im not hoping for a Lavonte David trade, but it sure seems possible.

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    • Bucs have 6 picks in the draft now. All rounds except 6th. Trade back twice and pick up two extra picks, move four players for four extra picks and that could give the Bucs:
      1st – 1 pick
      2nd – 1 + draft trade + player trade = 3 picks
      3rd – 1 + draft trade + player trade = 3 picks
      4th – 1
      5th – 1 + player trade = 2 picks
      6th – 1 player trade = 1 pick
      7th – 1 pick

      Thats 12 picks with 7 coming in the first 3 rounds.
      Draft 2 DT, 1 OG, 4 LB in the first 3 rounds. 5 picks left to grab a RB, speed WR, and more LB and OL.

      Gholston, Allen fit in a 3-4, provide depth. Vea starts in a 3-4.
      Spence has last shot with the team as stand up DE. At LB, Minter and Kwon resigned.

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      • Rookies on defense are almost worthless.

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        • Last year, there were really good rookies on defense all over the league.

          Darius Leonard, Roquon Smith, Bradley Chubb, Daron Payne, Marcus Davenport, Derwin James, James Vander Esch, and Vita Vea are a few that had really good years and significant playing time. There are many others.

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          • I agree, but it takes even most of the good ones some time to develop. Exceptions might be RB and Edge. Yes, some might impact right away, but they are rare. You mentioned several, but how many draft choices entered the league? Hundreds.

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    • Now I’m really excited, let’s trade Mcoy to the Saints for 6th Rd pick so we can draft that place kicker out of Purdue. Stop it man!

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      • You’re right. Bucs should keep McCoy, Vea, JPP, Nassib up front with David, Beckwith and Kwon at LB in the new 3-4 defense. That will work really well. Last year those guys did an amazing job leading the way. While we’re at it, lets hope they bring in Leveon Bell, Antonio Brown, Mike Iupati, Tyran Matthieu, and Landon Collins. Endless money!

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      • Oh yeah, I almost forgot…Matt Bryant! He’s only 43!! A spring chicken!!

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    • I doubt it. Arians was also quoted as saying LVD could transition into one of those ILB spots no problem, so I don’t expect he’s going anywhere.

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      • Gruden was quoted as saying how excited he was to work with Khalil Mack when he took the Raiders job last year. He was focused on getting him in the building. Gruden was also a big fan of wide receiving weapon Amari Cooper.

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        • The difference is Gruden talks out both sides of his face. Almost all his Ex Players have no respect for him because he would say one thing to your face and something completely different behind your back. That’s not the kind of guy Arians is…

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    • Bowles said you tailor the scheme to the players’ strengths, not tailor the players to the scheme. However, given BA’s statement, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucs trade down a couple of spots and draft Devin White in the first round, pick up a pick or two, and land a DT to pair with Vea in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

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  11. I aways hate to charge into hypothetical territory but the question about Win Now or Build for the Future begs for speculation. I think it is important to WIN NOW! I would give up 2020 Picks, Cut good players who have suffered through years of losing culture, and take full advantage of what might be a short term BA regime. With few exceptions over the past decade daily news from the sites about the Buc’s has been depressing. Tampa Fans are all disillusioned and look to the offseason for false hope and desperate aspirations. We are universally viewed throughout the NFL as pathetic losers. I believe we have our best shot with BA and we should go all in in 2019 if for no other reason than to gain a small measure of respect. I remember how great the SB win was, several things fell our way, but for years after the winning sensation prevailed. We have been building for the future ever since. The hell with the future WIN NOW!!!!

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    • I here you Martinii, back in our SB days we mortgaged the future. Jimmy Johnson came in looked at the Cap situation and bowed out. For all the praise us Buc fans give Rich McCay he sunk the ship on the way out the door. We got the Ring but we are still making repairs so we can set sail again. There has got to be a better way to win than that don’t you think?

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  12. There are plenty of options for the Coach & GM; cut some of them or reduce some contracts to stay, and/or they can hit the road if they don’t like it.
    I like this time of the year as it gives one an idea as to their strategy. Combine doesn’t mean much to me, but I know it does for the Coaches/GM/Scouts/Owners. Pewter Report, keep us posted; love the Mailbag.
    Go Bucs.

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  13. I’d love to see someone jump over the Jags & Giants to pick up their favorite QB (Miami?) we slide down a few slots, pick up a couple of extra picks and draft Jonas.

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  14. If BA develops Spence as an OLB, and we get Minter and Beckwith back there are three larger LBs for a three four defense and we also get White that can be your starting LBs, David, Alexander, and Taylor could be backups and good on Special Teams. If Cece is well enough to play there is another big LB and we would not have to have White. If you make PFF as a stand up OLB that is another large OLB. We would need to keep Gholston as a run stopping end. A reduced pay McCoy could play the other end. Nassib and get Saunders as the backup NT and Omenihu DE both in the draft that would be your backup/relief DL.

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    • Gholston and Spence are too slow. If they couldn’t do it in a 4-3, how do you figure they can do it in a 3-4?

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    • Gotta pay Alexander first. Will he take a 1-yr “prove it” deal? If we franchise him, what does that say about the chances of us drafting White in the 1st? There’s too many unanswered questions right now to get a clear understanding of just what the Bucs might do, but that’s also the great thing about the off season!

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  15. Answers: Neither player. Both McCoy and Bell too much money with our current cap issues and lots other holes.

    Bob. Why do constantly harp on Winston being fixed but never a peep about fixing a dead last defense for years or O line or run game needing to get fixed? People might take you seriously if you had some insight or other comments once in a while besides “Winston needs fixed and I do t think he can”. Arians thinks he can and he’s smarter than you and has worked with Winston and seen his capabilities and work ethic and smarts.

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  16. Bucs need to trade down. Here’s my plan.
    Trade five for thirteen and second and third and next year first with Miami.
    Then trade 13 to Raiders for 24 and 27 and second round pick.
    Then trade two second round picks to Rams for their first round pick.
    We end up wtih 24, 27 and 30 and second round pick, two third round picks and two first round picks for next year.

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  17. *mobile messed it up and I can’t seem to delete my comment. Anyways…*

    …Payne. Q and Vita would be an unbelievable pairing, causing chaos in the pocket for opposing QBs for years to come and as soon as next season. I would hope GMac is back on a restructure to help with that learning curve. Quinnen Williams is a can’t miss prospect that you don’t trade down if he’s still available. However, the odds of that happening is so slim, but I’m still holding out hope.

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  18. Who are these morons asking for Leveon Bell?! There are bigger issues on the team than RB!

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  19. Yes BucAss, Mike Smith being familiar with the players really helped them perform at a high level.

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