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: Outside of Jason Licht not surprising us in Round 1, which Bucs pick was the biggest surprise in this draft?
Answer: That one is pretty easy to answer – kicker Matt Gay. I can’t say if it was a good pick or a bad pick, but I can say it was the shocker of the Bucs’ draft for the PewterReport.com staff, anyway. We all were quite stunned when the pick was announced, as you could have seen if you were watching our live Drft Videocast on Saturday.
We – nor anyone – knows the Monday after the draft how this pick will work out, and it could go down as a solid addition if Gay ends up wining the job and becomes a dependable and reliable kicker for the next several years. But it is a risky move, especially considering how the last drafted kicker – Roberto Aguayo – was a complete bust in Tampa Bay as a second-round pick in 2016.
It goes without saying that Licht and head coach Bruce Arians are way more in tune with evaluating talent than the media, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have an opinion, and for myself at least, it is still a shocker two days later. I understand adding a kicker in free agency following the draft, and maybe taking a gamble in the seventh round, but the fifth round, with what we felt was better value that could help the team in more ways than gambling on a kicker?
The main problem I have is, how do you evaluate a kicker? Stats? Sure, that is a good place to start and Gay’s stats might warrant a fifth-round grade as the Lou Groza Award winner. But it is impossible to evaluate a player’s mental toughness and makeup.
Being a kicker is like no other position in all of sports. Games can literally come down to just that one person. Football is a team game, and the other 75 plays affect the outcome just as much, but what other sport has a single designated person to come in a win or lose a game?
Imagine if in the NBA there was just one person on the roster who took all the free throw attempts? Or a baseball player who came in to bat just in the bottom of the ninth inning and either hit a home run or struck out? How about a designated person who came on to just putt on the 18th hole of the Masters? The pressure would be unbelievable. And that is the biggest problem I have with drafting a kicker. You just don’t know how they will perform. Even if in college they were clutch at the end of the game, it doesn’t mean that translates over to the NFL.
Question: Since Gerald McCoy was not moved during the draft, should we expect the release of other players? Or could we be looking at a restructuring of his contract? Since we did not draft his replacement I can’t see his release, as that would just create another hole.
Answer: I still think the release of McCoy could still very well happen, although the Bucs would have preferred to get something in return this past weekend. Tampa Bay sits at just under $2 million in cap space and will need at least another $6-8 million just to sign the new draft class. Plus another $4 million in reserve to have for free agents they might need to sign over the course of their 16-game schedule.
The Bucs aren’t nearly as worried about making cap room as fans are, knowing a few restructures could make that happen in a matter of hours. For example, they could reduce Mike Evans’ cap number by turning a good portion of his $20 million salary into a signing bonus and spreading that out over of the life of his current deal.
And remember, by drafting some of these players this weekend, they will release some of the current roster, and that frees up some money. If Gay makes the team over Cairo Santos, that saves the team roughly half a million dollars. And if Anthony Nelson makes the team, perhaps a player like William Gholston becomes expendable and that could give Tampa Bay a net savings of around $2.75 million.
But the biggest factor in the return or release of McCoy will be the team’s perceived value of him as a talent. Does his talent and production warrant $13 million? Can they get by with what they have now on the roster? Could they find someone in free agency or from another team’s cuts that could get similar numbers in this defense at half of that salary for example? Those are the main questions to ask, not where does the money come from. The Buccaneers can find the money to keep McCoy and still get under the cap.
Question: Arians said that they were very happy with what Cairo Santos has done in the off-season. Can drafting a kicker in the fifth round – not seventh round or getting a free agent – be interpreted any other way than he does not have a lot of confidence in Santos?
Answer: I think that is the only thing it could be saying. Notice the Buccaneers didn’t draft quarterback Daniel Jones with the fifth overall pick. They also didn’t draft one of the top tight ends in this year’s fairly deep class.
Why? Because they have Jameis Winston and O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Gambling on a kicker in the fifth round – and make no mistake, it is a gamble – is proof this team thinks it needs an upgrade in that department. And if not an upgrade, they believe they need a better Santos in 2019 due to the competition Matt Gay brings. How ever the position gets better, Bucs general manager Jason Licht head coach Bruce Arians and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong want a better kicker in this upcoming season.
Question: Loved watching the live Draft Videocast with the guys of Pewter Report. My question is Mark, what did you think of this draft?
Answer: Thanks so much for the compliment. It was really fun to be on live and interacting with our readers over those three days and despite the hard work it took, it was rewarding and hopefully entertaining to some degree.
My thoughts on this draft are mixed and change every few hours. But the bottom line is, none of us have any idea how it turns out and won’t for the next few years. Myself, like fans, have instant emotional reactions when the picks are made. We have our guys that we personally think fit well and make the team better, but of course we don’t have access to the tape, the medical reports or the interviews that the Bucs do.
So while we might initially sit stunned the Bucs passed on say, cornerback Greedy Williams in the second round, we have to also remember, so did 31 other teams. Perhaps there were some red flags we weren’t aware of, or maybe myself, like many writers just overvalued his talent.