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: Now that it’s the offseason what free agent would you like the Bucs to pursue? 

Answer: If the Bucs had unlimited cap room, and in a perfect “Madden” world there are several. Defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas), Jadeveon Clowney (Houston) and Frank Clark (Seattle) and Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell are four that come to mind, but between their own teams potentially keeping those players (except the Steelers), and the type of money they will command, the odds of the Bucs getting any of those players are pretty slim. Tampa Bay has some tough decisions to make to free up cap room already, and that is just to keep some of its own players, so the chances they are in the running for first-tier free agents this year isn’t very good.

While it won’t be a sexy pick, my priority would be for the Bucs to re-sign wide receiver Adam Humphries and get him back in the fold on a multi-year deal. After that, re-sign middle linebacker Kwon Alexander to a one-year, prove-it deal, and give left tackle Donovan Smith the franchise tag.

Saints RB Mark Ingram and Bucs LB Lavonte David - Photo by: Getty Images
Saints RB Mark Ingram and Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Getty Images

One position that is strong in free agency this year is at safety and as we saw last year the market wasn’t great for these guys. Will that continue this season? If so, look for the Bucs to be a player with New York Giants safety Landon Collins on their radar, and of course Houston safety Tyrann Mathieu, who we all know has a history with Bruce Arians from their days together in Arizona. Remember that the Bucs were considering trading for Collins last year before the deadline.

A position that did command a lot of money last season was running back, and it probably will again. If Saints running back Mark Ingram is allowed to test the market I would like to see the Bucs get involved to not only fill a need, but to also deal a blow to the division rival Saints. Another option would be Atlanta’s Tevin Coleman.

Question: What is the biggest challenge for Bruce Arians? I don’t know where to start – Jameis Winston, the defense, roster as a whole?

Answer: Honestly, it is changing the mindset of these players who have been conditioned to losing.

There is an old country saying that says if you kick the dog every time you come home from work, he will eventually stop greeting you and just start staying under the porch. This Bucs team stayed under the porch the last several seasons, and even an influx of Super Bowl experienced players couldn’t change the team’s overall mentality – evidenced by back-to-back 5-11 seasons.

The talent gap from the best team to the worst team in the NFL isn’t nearly as big of a difference as many might think, and the NFL sets it up so the bad teams can get competitive pretty quickly, yet you tend to see the same teams at the bottom of the standings year after year. So much of that is mentality.

Bruce Arians has to change the mindset of these players from thinking they can win to expecting to win. Much of that comes from the weekly preparation and the assistant coaches. I think this staff is as good as we’ve have seen since the Super Bowl days under Jon Gruden, so that part should change. Arians believes the talent is there to win as he has mentioned on occasion. He has the staff he wanted, so there really aren’t many excuses. It is all setting up for a turnaround if the Bucs can fill a few holes, but also close that mental gap.

Question: Do you think the Bucs could score best player available at No. 5 and then grab Michigan linebacker Devin Bush in the 2nd Round? I think he will be a stud at the next level.

Answer: I think it will be best player available at No. 5, but I don’t think Devin Bush will be around by the time the team picks in the second round. I think a possible scenario is Tampa Bay finds a willing trade partner and picks up some extra picks by moving down. A couple teams have multiple first-round picks – Oakland (three) and Green Bay (two), so the Bucs might have the option of selecting at No. 5 then moving back up in the first round if there was a player, like Bush, they wanted. Or they could move down, packaging what they got in that deal (an extra second-rounder or a 2020 first-rounder) to trade back up with a team who only has one first-round pick, but might want to get more picks later themselves. There are a million different scenarios and that is what makes the draft so fun each year.

Linebacker is a big position of need with the team transitioning to more of a 3-4 look. Of course a lot will depend on the recovery of Kwon Alexander (knee) and Kendall Beckwith (ankle), and Jack Cichy (knee) to some degree, but regardless, the team most likely nabs a linebacker in this draft.

Question: Do you guys think Kwon Alexander could benefit from another coach, meaning maybe he learned all he could from Mike Smith and Mark Duffner? And do you think he developed habits from the previous staff?

Answer: I think all players can benefit from hearing a different voice and Kwon Alexander is no different. I believe Mark Duffner was a very good coach and helped develop Alexander nicely the last couple years, but the next question is has Alexander plateaued, or is there some ceiling left? Every player can learn new things and work to improve but is Alexander at the top of his game yet?

There are some in the building – or were in the building – who believed Kendell Beckwith was actually a better middle linebacker, at least before the car accident that cost him the 2018 season. And there are some linebackers in this draft that may be better than Alexander, and that is before you factor in him coming off of an ACL injury.

The current staff has had time to review Alexander’s game tape and make their recommendation to general manager Jason Licht and we will know their thoughts pretty quickly by if the Bucs offer him a new deal before free agency next month.

I love Alexander and what he brings to the table from an energy and production-standpoint, and would like to see him back to see if there is a little more this new staff can squeeze out of him. We know one thing for certain about Alexander, and that is he is a relentless worker, and if anyone can bounce back it will be him.

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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]

35 COMMENTS

  1. Keeping Humphries should be a top priority for the Bucs. He could be a number one receiver for many teams.
    And, I don’t care if L Bell pays the Bucs to play in Tampa, that man is poison. I don’t want him on the team.

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    • One thing is sure, Kareem Hunt won’t be coming to Tampa. He’s a Cleveland Brown.

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  2. Be careful with Landon Collins. Not sure the G men are going to re sign him. Big hitter but hurt and not great in coverage. Really struggled vs. athletic TE’s, he is looking for a big payday too. Would rather get a coverage safety or more of a playmaker like Honey Badger. Guy I love is CJ Mosely. Also, I agree about Beckwith over Kwon in the middle. Kwon runs himself out of position too much for my liking and I think he is more of a WLB than a middle.

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  3. Had enough of diva WR’s. They are a poison on any team and there is a long history of players like TO, Bell, Meshawn Johnson and others of ruining a whole teams chemistry.
    It seems like teams adjusted to Meshawn Jackson last year after the second or third game and the only long ball he caught for a TD afterwards was one from Winston in the Bengals debacle.
    It’s ike saying goodbye to a cognitively disassociated girlfreind.
    She was exciting and made your life interesting, but she also drove you crazy as hell with her antics.

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    • “Cognitively Disassociated”. Now there’s a nice way to say it.

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  4. Three names to keep in mind as Bucs evaluate the Safety position:

    *Landon Collins/Giants – Bucs tried to trade for Collins before the trade deadline last year. Don’t know if Arians would agree now. Spotrac projected avg. salary is 9.3mil.

    *Tyrann Matthieu/Texans – played on 7mil contract last year but had injuries. A Bruce Arians favorite as he drafted him when everybody was staying away.

    *Deone Bucannon/Cardinals – Tweener that played LB but is really a strong safety. Bucannon is a 1st round player that will be the least expensive to sign. Also drafted by Bruce Arians.

    Trust that Bucs will make the best decision here if at all. Go Bucs!

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    • I still firmly believe that signing Tyrann Mathieu is the best choice at DB for us…he has stayed healthy the last 2 years and has connections with both Bowles and Arians..he’d be cheaper than Collins too. I just feel like his versatility and aggressive play style would have some sort of influence on the rest of the teams demeanor during games.

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      • It could happen. Remember too many players chasing too few dollars in Free Agency. Honey Badger is said to be one of the players they like. FYI, RB Kareem Hunt Just signed a 1 year contract with the Cleveland Browns.

        http://www.espn.com/blog/tampa-bay-buccaneers/post/_/id/22209/matt-bryant-tyrann-mathieu-among-bucs-top-free-agent-prospects

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        • I like the idea of John brown coming to Tampa if the price is right and if we don’t resign Humphries…he could be our deepthreat instead of Djax.

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  5. Still think Bell coming to Tampa. I can’t believe Bruce Arians is going to put his future in the hands of Jameis Winston so until free agency and draft is over anything is possible if he stays with Winston I don’t know whether I will feel bad for Bruce Arians or not when Bucs lose.

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    • YOU’RE EVEN MORE NEGATIVE THAN MY WIFE!

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      • He’s not negative 76. To paraphrase DrD, Bob is “Positively Disassociated”.

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    • Dammit bobby

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      • Buck Ray I’m complaining about a quarterback that won six games in two years who’s been suspended who’s been benched in the last year who scored more interceptions in Lost fumbles than any other active quarterback in the last 4 years what do you mean damn it

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        • Bob, at one point during the season I felt that it was the end for Jameis when he had that 4 interception game against the Bengals, but he bounced back after being benched and played differently..he looked a lot better..I get it, you want to win and Jameis has been underwhelming while he has been here..but he’s still just 25 not even hitting his prime yet and the qb position probably takes the longest to master of all positions in the NFL…I just think you, like the rest of us, should support him and see how he does under Bruce Arians before writing him off completely. He is still our qb for the upcoming season no matter what you say..just give him this season to prove himself.

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          • Did you notice the difference in the offensive play-calling after the benching did you notice the yards per game we’re way down they made the offense very conservative to keep him from intercepting and lost all those games if they open the offense back up the interceptions will come back just as fast I’m sorry but Ray he is what he is he’s an 89% rated quarterback all 4 years.

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        • In case you didnt notice bob, the bottom of your keyboard is a period. Itll help separate your incoherent babble.

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    • I know, you were so sure the bucs would have Foles starting week one I believe. That was youre guarantee right?

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    • B-A-B. Well one thing we know about Bell is he certainly will not get Gurley type money from the Bucs. You can get creative as you want with the Cap; however, where is this 15-20 million, 50-75 million guaranteed going to come from (assuming anyone comes close to that for someone who refused 15 million already, been out of football for a year, and doesn’t exactly have any locker room cred and even less now). I’ll never say never when it comes to what happens, but with their own free agents yet to sign, Arian’s comments (and almost everyone stating he’ll be here 2-3 years at best and hope to show enough improvement to get one of his assistants the HC replacement job). It’s quite a reach to think they will cut 40 to 50 million of the existing Cap, to sign 2-3 players commonly mentioned such as Honey Badger, Bell, etc. Find a quality back-up veteran QB (or as you believe a 25-30 million a year one). Meet the interim cap numbers while sitting aside the rookie signing pool). Have room left for 2-3 surprise FA’s who teams will have to cut to their caps, etc., etc. So we cut McCoy, JPP, release DJack, pass on Humphries, Kwon, etc., still don’t have the money. Gonna be rough dude! Fitz wants to be a starter next year, so rules him out, Griffin hasn’t proven anything so QB is also a point of need. Now this is assuming that Arian’s really isn’t hear to sell seats and get the team back to at least average, that he truly does move on from Winston, and it’s all part of yet another 5 year plan with all the young players everyone is clamoring for. I love all the experts and commentators on the networks – they call it the silly season and turn it into bizzaro season. After March 13, we’ll have some idea going into the draft whether it is a “reload”, “rebuild”, or whether we’re playing for another top 5 pick come December.

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  6. Does anyone know what the relationship is (if any) between Tyrone Mathieu and Todd Bowles, our DC?

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    • Mathieu had a child with Todd Bowles stepdaughter as far as I know.

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    • Todd Bowles was DC at the Cardinals when Tyrann Mathieu was drafted in 2013. Bruce Arians was HC. Todd Bowles was a RB for HC Bruce Arians at Temple. And as BucRy related Mathieu has a child with Bowles stepdaughter from their time together at LSU. I think that about sums it up! lol.

      https://nypost.com/2015/01/15/todd-bowles-ex-cheerleader-daughter-has-kid-with-honey-badger/

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      • Correction Typo: Bowles was DB, not RB.

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  7. Having a head coach and coaching staff that doesn’t constantly tell the players and media how hard it is to win in the NFL (last four head coaches) will go along way into changing the culture. Look at the Patriots for all the proof you need. They believe they will – not can win every game.
    That is what BA will bring to this team and it will show with wins immediately!

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  8. Will it be easier to change the culture of losing with the players who have been so use to losing, or just change the players? Seems like we pay top dollar for mediocrity. Jensen highest paid center, average, McCoy 13 million team captain for one of the worst D’s in the NFL, David the same. How has paying them made us better? Kwon, more money won’t make his knee heal faster, and reality is the Q.B. of our defense has lead us to 5-11 the last two years. Will franchising Smith at 14.5 million make him not take any plays off, the mental lapses will disappear? Maybe these dogs have been kicked to much Mark, and be happy to lay under the porch on a big pile of money. There’s always options. I keep hearing J. Williams arms are to short to play LT in the NFL. I watched the kid all year stone wall some of the best defenders in the SEC. He consistently gets to the second level in the run game, rarely makes mistakes like false starts, and holding, and from what I’ve heard is a student of the game gym rat, who studies film. Wouldn’t that be better then Smith? Couldn’t we use that 14.5 million on someone other then Kwon? Paying the same losers more money, and expecting better results has never worked for us. Time to turn the page.

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    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
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    • Some famous coach once said you can’t make chicken salad with chicken shit.

      A different famous coach(who just won another Super Bowl) said great players can’t escape bad coaching.

      I think the Bucs will be judicious and the new staff isn’t beholden to any single player yet. No guarantee of any player getting drafted.

      Arians has said Winston has a mechanics issue and he holds the ball too long. He said Winston commits turnovers because he’s down 21 points too often. Defense and a running game, plus mechanics corrections on the way.

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      • The scouts talked about his mechanics issues and lovey was going to fix it then lovey got fired then the offensive genius of Dirk koetter I was going to fix it now Bruce Obi-Wan Kenobi Arians is going to fix it with the power of the force you can’t make this stuff up LOL and all these pewter boys are on board again.

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  9. We picked up a FA safety in Adams last year who had 4 INTS with the club and he only played in I think 8 games.
    Yet all I ever hear about is drafting a safety or signing one in FA to use precious cap money with.
    Personally, I like the ones we have right now.
    We have bigger needs elsewhere including on the DL.

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    • I agree Dr D! Plus MJ Stewart might move to safety. That’s a lot of young talent that’s priced just right!

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      • This is always what killed me about our regime. They draft a guy whose good at one position and then move him elsewhere and last I saw, we didn’t have the coaching staff to coach these kind of moves. MJ Stewart is much better suited as a safety then nickel or slot CB like he played in college for the most part. I think that BA will improve this team just by using that exact method. Coach to their strengths.

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  10. Why would we want to bring back all these older players who have never helped much except to be in the cellar most of their years as Bucs?
    I would trade down often in the earlier rounds and pick up some more draft picks for players who are willing to be coached.
    I still don’t get caught in a cap space issue. Just my opinion.

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  11. “Let’s don’t get”

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  12. Never underestimate the effects of coaching or lack there of! The previous staff was awful! Took to long to pull the plug on bad coaches and players! It’s BA’s ass on the line now. I’m sure he’ll want to roll with HIS players. I expect that almost half the roster will turn over. With a new accountability and mindset as the mantra I think this is definitely a good thing. Losing is a culture. Change some players, their mindsets, and perhaps the culture will change as well! I’m one fan who is looking forward to the changes! Go Bucs!

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  13. Speaking of Culture Change and Salary Cap Space. Mark don’ you think it’s time to move on from players like GMC, Lavante, Djax. Overpaid, Over hyped, and shrink when the game is on the line. In the case of GMC and LVD good players but have rarely displayed a winning attitude in all the years they have been here. When the youngsters Winston, Kwon,Marpet,Evans came in we were on the cusp of a cultural change. The locker room was on fire with passion from the youth. Started getting some prime time games and things seamed as though they were finally turning around here. Except we had these leftovers from the Youngry days who were made captains not based on leadership mind you but experience, pouring water on the fire and energy that the young guys brought in. I believe that fire is still here but I think it’s time to move on from Youngry remnants especially if we’re talking Culture Change and Cap Space.

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  14. I’ve always proclaimed there is little physical difference between teams in the NFL. As Yogi might say, “50% of it is half mental”. True, some teams might have a super star or two. What those few great ones do is elevate the confidence level of the players around them. Makes them believe victory is not only possible, but likely. So evident in the Super Bowl. Rams no doubt had equal or perhaps even superior overall talent to the “Flying Elvises”. Not only did Brady’s Bunch believe they would win, the Rams also had little doubt the Patriots would find a way to win. Just ask the Falcons.

    Gruden instilled that swagger by, when asked about the opponent’s vaunted Offense, declared, “Who’s going to stop this Defense?”

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