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: With Lavonte David being the heart and soul of this defense for years there’s no way the Bucs cut him after this season even though he’s due $9 million dollars? Sure, if he was slowing down but there’s no signs of that even after missing all of camp. He’s still making plays.
Answer: In what will be an offseason of change and decisions that must be made, the easiest one the team will make in 2020 isn’t even really a decision. Lavonte David will be a Buccaneer next year barring some major injury. Other than that, No. 54 will be on the team, starting for Todd Bowles’ defense, and a captain once again.
At age 29 he truly has shown no signs of slowing down, and as teammate and fellow linebacker Devin White gets better, that could actually help to even extend David’s career. David is actually set to earn $10.75 million in 2020, which is still a bargain for the type of player and leader he is.
There was a play on Sunday where the Cardinals threw a pass to a running back in the flat and David came all the way across the field and dropped him for no loss. What was so impressive was how fundamentally perfect the tackle was. If I was still coaching youth and high school football, that specific play would be one I would show daily to my defense as an example of how to make a tackle. David has never been about showboating or going for the knockout-highlight-reel type of hit. He just does it the right way every single time.
Of course his timely forced fumble and fumble recovery at the end of the third quarter was one of the key plays in Tampa Bay’s 30-27 win over Arizona. That was David’s 19th forced fumble and 14th fumble recovery of his career. As I mentioned in Sunday’s Most Impressive story, it really is a shame David has played on so many bad Buccaneers teams in his career as he will most likely never get the proper respect he deserves nationally.
Question: What do you think about the Bucs using a best player available strategy for every round in the 2020 draft for their areas of need?
Answer: Draft strategy is subjective and every front office has its own philosophy, but whatever the Bucs do, and whoever is in charge of the draft for Tampa Bay in 2020, the team must find impact players. I would start with the offensive line over any other position. Just as the Bucs have done with secondary players the last two years, I would like to see them do the same thing and address the offensive line with multiple picks.
Whether it be Jameis Winston, or a new quarterback under center next year, the Bucs will need to protect the team’s quarterback better than they have this year as Winston is on pace to get sacked 60 times in 2019. The Bucs also must be more effective running the football. On Sunday there were entirely too many negative runs or runs for no gain. Once again, the breakdowns were spread out among all five linemen at times.
We all know the writing is on the wall for 34-year old right tackle Demar Dotson as far as his time starting in the NFL. Father Time catches up with everyone eventually and Dotson is seeing that time coming sooner rather than later. I applaud Dotson’s willingness to go out each and every week despite his body breaking down somewhat. But the Bucs need to address the right tackle position for the future while also adding some depth – if not guys that can challenge current starters.
Question: What position do you think gets upgraded first in the draft/offseason and what spot would you upgrade first?
Answer: I have no idea what position the Bucs address with their first pick next April, but as mentioned above, at some point they must draft more offensive linemen. In the first round a team can’t reach based on need. For example, if the Bucs have an edge rusher rated significantly higher on their draft board, they can’t take say an offensive tackle just because it is a need. Now if it is close, then perhaps general manager Jason Licht can stretch a little and take a lineman, or trade down if he can find a partner.
But even before the draft in April, the Buccaneers will have a chance to upgrade the roster via free agency in March. That is where I would be on the lookout for secondary help. I understand the whole youth movement thing, and it is true – building a roster in free agency isn’t an ideal strategy, but it can be very effective when it comes to filling holes.
This secondary needs a veteran presence. With the money Tampa Bay could save by not bringing cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III back at his fifth-year option price tag (just over $9 million) the Bucs could find at least one veteran starter, if not two. It may not be Janoris Jenkins-type talents for example, but the Bucs could use a veteran cornerback to help mentor the young DBs and provide competition.
As I mentioned on last week’s Pewter Nation Podcast, Morris Claiborne didn’t sign with the Chiefs until August 8, and for only $1.5 million. Now Claiborne isn’t making any future Pro Bowls, but one can’t say he wouldn’t have helped this football team last week at Seattle. And I would even venture to say the Bucs win that game with Claiborne on the field instead of ill-prepared rookie Jamel Dean.
Question: Is Justin Evans going to see the field any time soon? This secondary needs all hands on deck.
Answer: Justin Evans won’t be back in 2019, and who knows after that? It is unfortunate because this young Bucs secondary could have used a veteran presence in 2019. Not that Evans was some 10-year pro before he got hurt, but his game experience and and just being in the meeting rooms would be been invaluable to some of the young players, like rookie Mike Edwards for example.
Between toe and heel injuries, and this year Achilles surgery, Evans’ future as a football player may be in doubt. Of course the hope is he can come back from the injury and possibly be ready for camp next season. But Tampa Bay can’t count on that happening and needs to plan accordingly.
The addition of Edwards wasn’t made with Evans situation in mind particularly, but he may end up being the long-term starter depending on his development that some would say has been slow and disappointing so far. The only good news with the lack of veterans is the amount of reps the young secondary players have gotten in 2019. And it should make them better.
This team isn’t ready to give up on any of the young players yet, and some of them, like Jamel Dean, the team feels has a very high ceiling. That thought was somewhat proven by his bounce back game over the previous week at Seattle. Dean had four pass breakups in the 40-34 overtime loss at Seattle and surrendered three touchdowns, but had four passes broken up and a clutch interception in the fourth quarter in Sunday’s 30-27 win over Arizona.