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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag  Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: Do you think Ali Marpet retiring changes the Bucs’ offseason plans significantly? As in possibly persuading them to not go all-in as they might have? Possibly rethink pushing Tom Brady’s cap hit to 2023 instead of just taking it now?

ANSWER: We’ll see. I will say that from what I’ve learned over the past 24 hours, Ali Marpet’s sudden retirement could very well cause the team to chart a new course. Marpet gave the Bucs some notice a few weeks ago that he was contemplating retirement this offseason, so this wasn’t a complete shock to the team on Sunday afternoon. There will be some cap savings for the Bucs with Marpet’s retirement. The salary cap details are chronicled in Josh Queipo’s article that you can read here.

Bucs QB Tom Brady, C Ryan Jensen and LG Ali Marpet

Bucs QB Tom Brady, C Ryan Jensen and LG Ali Marpet – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With Tom Brady’s retirement, Marpet’s retirement, the likelihood that tight end Rob Gronkowski moves on, and a growing sense that center Ryan Jensen might price himself out of Tampa Bay’s price range, the Bucs may be transitioning from “reload” to “reboot” this offseason. Fans may not want to hear that, but Tampa Bay ramped up for a Super Bowl and got one with Tom Brady. That’s the positive.

With more holes to fill now with Marpet’s retirement the Bucs will need more salary cap room to add more players. Tampa Bay will still push part of Brady’s cap hit into 2023 instead of taking the $17 million cap hit this season. As I wrote about in a previous SR’s Fab 5 and Queipo wrote last week, the Bucs will likely make the decision to officially put him on the reserve/retired list on June 2.

The Bucs were supposed to take a $34 million dead cap hit for Brady. But it looks like they will be benefit from being able to recover $16 million in bonus money if he retired prior to 2023. The Athletic’s Greg Auman reported the news first. So the team will still take an $8 million cap hit this year and and push the rest of the dead cap money into 2023.

Simply put, the Bucs can’t afford to absorb what would be a $17 million cap hit this year with the amount of players that need to be re-signed and added. Tampa Bay will do the same thing with Marpet to create more cap space for the 2022 season.

There will be some regression this year without Brady, Marpet and several other key contributors that will be moving on. Yet the Bucs still have a pretty talented roster with at least five Pro Bowlers under contract. Tampa Bay is not going to win 13 games this season, especially with an incredibly difficult schedule. But the Bucs could very well go 9-8 and still win the NFC South, which is the worst division in the conference.

QUESTION: What other surprises are we in store for before September?

ANSWER: Buckle up! This Bucs offseason is just getting started. This is probably going to be the most unpredictable and suspenseful free agency and NFL Draft season in a long, long time.

The good news is that the cupboard isn’t bare. Not all is lost despite some high profile departures this offseason. There is still a good amount of talent in Tampa Bay. It’s up to general manager Jason Licht to add more now and restock the cupboard. Hopefully from here on out the surprises will be good ones for the team and Bucs fans.

QUESTION: Do the Bucs view Alex Cappa as a $10+ million dollar player along the line now that Ali Marpet has retired?

ANSWER: That’s a great question. Spotrac has Alex Cappa’s market value at $10.7 million. That is likely more than the Bucs would want to pay their starting right guard. But PFF is a more reliable source for contract projections, and they put Cappa around $9.25 million per year. I’m not sure what the market will bear for Cappa, nor what the Bucs would be willing to spend. But both the team and I suspect that there will be a gap between those numbers.

Bucs RG Alex Cappa and QB Tom Brady

Bucs RG Alex Cappa and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tampa Bay would love to have Cappa back at the right price, which is believed to be less than $10 million. The team has been pleased with his progress and development as he has transitioned to guard. I just don’t think the Bucs feel that Cappa’s ceiling is that of a Pro Bowler. They want to reserve $10 million-plus contracts for Pro Bowl-caliber offensive linemen.

The Bucs have stockpiled the guard position over the last few years with several promising yet unheralded players. Aaron Stinnie, who replaced Cappa during the 2020 postseason, could be re-signed for much cheaper. He’s not as talented as Cappa, but he’s not a big step down, either.

The Bucs also have Nick Leverett, John Molchon and Sadarius Hutcherson on the roster that they are developing. In addition to Stinnie, one of those players could wind up starting this year. Two of them might start, but it’s likely that Tampa Bay will add even more talent in free agency and the draft. The Bucs will also likely add a free agent center to compete with Robert Hainsey for the right to start.

QUESTION: Does Ali Marpet retiring change the way Chris Godwin looks at the Bucs in free agency?

ANSWER: I don’t think so. New free agents look harder at the roster they are going to go to more than players who are re-signing. I would be shocked if Chris Godwin doesn’t re-sign with the Bucs. Tampa Bay is going to pay him somewhere between $15 – $17 million per season, which will be at or close to market value.

Godwin has posted two 1,000-yard seasons, including a Pro Bowl year in 2019. He knows that he’ll get more targets in Bruce Arians’ system than anywhere else. Godwin likes his fit in Tampa Bay and playing opposite Mike Evans, who is just as much a big brother to him as a teammate. Even with Ali Marpet’s retirement, the Bucs still have a very talented roster and Godwin knows that.

QUESTION: Jason Licht has a history of double dipping at positions in the draft. What position do you think is the most likely to be the position that gets double dipped this year?

ANSWER: Great question. A lot will depend on what happens (or doesn’t happen) in free agency first. The first couple of Pewter Report 2022 Bucs 7-Round Mock Drafts were essentially crapshoots as Tampa Bay could go in a multitude of directions in the draft.

Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht is in charge of steering the Buccaneers' ship - Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

As far as double dipping, we’ve seen Jason Licht do that in several drafts. In 2014 he drafted a pair of receivers in Mike Evans and Robert Herron. He also drafted a pair of offensive linemen in Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile on Day 3 that year. In 2015, Licht drafted another pair of O-linemen in Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet, and two more receivers in Kenny Bell and Kaelin Clay.

The next year, Licht doubled up on cornerbacks with Vernon Hargreaves III and Ryan Smith. He did the same thing with cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis III in 2018 and cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean in 2019. A pair of running backs were selected in 2020 in Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais. Last year, it was a Day 3 linebacker duo in K.J. Britt and Grant Stuard.

As it stands right now, I could see Licht double dip along the offensive line given the current holes there, or defensive tackle if Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon both retire this offseason. Given the lack of depth at tight end and running back, I wouldn’t rule those positions out, either.

QUESTION: What is the latest on our QB situation? Don’t tell me about Blaine Gabbert or Kyle Trask – they will not do.

ANSWER: Well, Kyle Trask is the only quarterback under contract in Tampa Bay right now. The Bucs probably re-sign Blaine Gabbert as a fallback starter option. Sorry. We’ll see if the Bucs can add another quarterback that step in as a starter.

The feelers I’m getting from the Bucs front office tells me that the team does not have significant interest in trading for Houston’s Deshaun Watson. The team is also not under the impression that Seattle will deal Russell Wilson, either. Perhaps Carson Wentz will be available at some point this offseason. There will be some teams that will jettison QBs after they draft their replacements in April. Stay tuned.

QUESTION: Should I stock up on booze for next season and why is the answer yes?

ANSWER: Yes, stock up! Why not? It’s going to be a fun and unpredictable offseason – and season ahead in Tampa Bay. There will be some highs this year, but expect more lows than we’ve seen with the Bucs over the past two years. Drink up … and cheers!

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Horse
Horse
4 months ago

Very good Article Scott. Well said! I think there will be more common sense applied to salary cap now that we are kind of rebooting by adding more youth to the team. We were very lucky to get Brady and I’m appreciative for it. Pre Brady, we were getting better; I still believe we can win our Division by improving our DL/OLB position, and addressing a TE on Offense. Regardless, I trust Licht; he’s earned it!

Brandonges
Brandonges
4 months ago

Great article. Nice dose of reality and very poignant questions.

Spitfire
Spitfire
4 months ago

Hey, this is Sports. Nothing lasts forever, no Player stays around forever. As long as we don’t have an 18 year drought of success again after our Super Bowl win we will be ok. As bad as it may seem losing so much talent, wouldn’t it be exciting if we find new players in the Draft and FA that come in and light things up? Would t it be game changing if Trask ends up being a Pro Bowl caliber QB or if not, we are able to find a Franchise QB in the Draft next year? I think no… Read more »

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
4 months ago

If the re-sign Stinnie and Cappa, a draft double dip at OL would make no sense. DL has been neglected since we drafted Vea and we’ve got to get younger there.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  buccaneerNW
4 months ago

I concur. We lost the Rams game because LA went 60 yards on two plays with 28 seconds left in the game.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Suh was so close to getting to Stafford on that pass to Kupp. Perhaps in his younger days, he would have gotten there a tick sooner. Got to focus a bit on the DT position this off-season.

twspin
twspin
4 months ago

Enjoyed reading this article But..the reality of sports is its hard to repeat. Look at all the talent we had this year and could not do it. Nothing is constant and we won one. Unless you guys foresee some distant miracle, We will not win a SB anytime soon. Don’t know who we will have at QB. But if he is not top notch, I can see us having a pleasant 600 season. Wentz, Cousins,Fitz..not the answer. Might as well take our lumps with Trask and Gabbert. Report this morning say Winston will be signed by the Saints. Brady, Marpet… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
4 months ago

The easy fix would be to resign Cappa and Jensen and plug Stinne into the guard position. No chance of the Gronk comng back this season without Brady. If he plays, he is going to find a team he can possibly go to the SB with and get maybe 50 percent of the snaps.

BucsLifer1
BucsLifer1
4 months ago

Sad for myself and the Bucs and the fans to hear about Marpet but super happy for him on his next step in life. Been a tough beginning to the offseaon for the team. Hopefully Licht and Arians are working on a good plan to keep the ship sailing.
Also, I think the Bucs need to give Trask a chance. This would be a great year to do it with all the turnover on both sides of the ball. Re-sign Godwin and draft a receiver in the first round to combine with Evans and see what the kid has.

James Taylor
James Taylor
4 months ago

This feels more and more like taking two down years to rebuild the roster and balance first contracts with the more lucrative second contracts. I think of the salary cap in terms of pairs. You can have a second contract along with a first contract for each pair of offensive guard, offensive tackle, wide receiver, tight ends, defensive interior, edge, linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties. You don’t pay for a veteran halfback or a utility defensive lineman. You need to have a mix of a few all-pros, some pro-bowl guys, solid starters, and lots of rookie contracts. If you have a… Read more »