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.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy
Bucs DT Gerald McCoy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

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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]

40 COMMENTS

  1. The trade down from a high third round pick, where we could have gotten a very good prospect in either Edge, Guard, RB, or CB to bottom of the round picks where we got DB’s that were picked too early.

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  2. McCoy is either leaving or taking a huge restructuring of his contract with a deep cut in his salary.
    All the draft proved was that not one team wanted to take on his salary for even a seventh round draft pick. That speaks volumes.
    Wherever he goes, McCoy is going to take a huge hit in the chops when it comes to how much money he makes.
    There is only one GM in the league who will pay a FA player $8 million for only garnering 3 sacks the year before and he works in Tampa Bay.

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  3. We should try to work out a deal to trade McCoy for Duke Johnson. It doesn’t solve the DL problem but does get us a very good player at a position of need.

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  4. Gholston is worth just about what he makes when he plays. It just delends when he wants to play.

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  5. If our rookies end up replacing higher dollar veterans that will certainly help our cap, but the problem is that we don’t have enough cap space to sign the rookie class now! If we can’t sign them, how can they make the team. Some big move, restructuring multiple contracts or cutting players will happen soon.

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  6. kram0789, it isn’t the player, it’s the contract!

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  7. Cairo Santos was stop gap – I mentioned this last year before the Bucs even picked him up. He was the best kicker remaining and he filled the gap admirably. However, he is still a stop gap kicker. He is adequate but not the best. He (as proven again with the Bucs) can kick accurately under 40 yards and make everything – extra points and field goals. However over 42 yards forget it. He got hurt a few years ago and since then his leg strength has been down. His stats with all the teams he played for since that injury show that – no kicks made over 50 yards (he missed all of attempts) and not a great performance between 40-49 yards. It is also why the Bucs did not have him do the kickoffs which the punter took over from him.

    This is not going to change. Why they drafted a strong legged guy. The only question as usual is his mental toughness which as the article correctly points out is hard to evaluate. If Matt Gay shows he can make the kicks, Santos will be let go. Hopefully he does not put them in a position where he performs in the preseason when the stakes are lower and then in the regular season stinks it up. That would just be another kicking disaster.

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  8. Last time I checked Beau Benzschawel and Porter Gustin are still available why not take a shot at these 2 now.

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  9. Another stupid pick. when are these guys going to learn, college kickers kick 20 yard extra points. Plenty of room for error when its a less than perfect kick. They do not have the pressure of having to make 33 yard extra points. This guy said the wrong things. He was stunned he got picked there said. Now its already in his head just like Aguyao. He will be gone before the end of the season if he makes the team. Licht if this guy doesn’t work out you should be fired. You should have already been fired fired for all the idiot moves you’ve already made.

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    Rating: -17. From 35 votes.
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  10. Mark, enjoyed watching the Draft Video Podcast. From now on that’s all I’m watching in Draft 2020.
    Mark since you now have your own Pewter Report Cook Show (which is the very best!), why not interview the cooks who make all the food at OBP? Seriously I really love your cooking show and is funny as heck and I hope others start watching it.
    As to the draft; here my words for awhile. Owners, GM, Coaches, Players; PROVE IT!

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  11. Beau Benzschawel signed with the Lions.

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  12. I know that I’m in the minority among Buccaneer fans, but I liked this draft. It has Bowles and Arian stamped all over it. They looked at the tape from last year and concluded that the defensive front was not the main problem; it was the secondary and the lack of leadership on the defense. Todd is a heck of a defensive mind and I trust him. The want speed, speed, and more speed and they want guys who can tackle and love football. Nearly all those evaluating the draft thought the defensive end from Iowa was a steal in the fourth round. I agree nobody really knows but Pro Football Focus rated our draft ABOVE AVERAGE and Walter Football gave it an A- and said it would have been higher but drafting a kicker. Regarding the kicker, you can hardly question the need to get the kicker curse over once and for all. Santos missed a big extra point last year and has a weak leg. Of course, the new kicker may prove as bad as the last few. Who knows. No risk it; no biscuit. I love the speed that is going to be on this defense. As a Buc fan for 36 years, I understand the frustration of the fans.

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    • Totally agree that this team was influenced heavily by Arians and Bowles – as stated Arians as looking for speed, versatility, high football IQ, and toughness. Bowles as clearly communicating the types of players he needs for the complex amount of schemes and fronts based on game situation. Those second guessing not drafting Greedy Williams still don’t see what the Bucs and the other 31 teams seen – A Brent Grimes type of player who avoids contact at all costs and hates to tackle. Kicker – probably too high; however, if Licht was correct that chatter was out there that other teams were looking in round 6 or 7, then you passed on a development type player you hope improves in 2-3 years, I.e., Cappa Benenoch type – or a career backup at 5 if you are drafting for only for depth.

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  13. Mark, the feeling is that the Bucs either butchered the Draft or Free Agency. Leading into this offseason everybody with eyeballs could see that the right side of the Oline needed to be overhauled. So since it was not addressed in FA we thought at the very least with one of those picks a Guard,RT or both would’ve been selected. The other issue was the salary cap and after all the FA dust has settled and the draft is over Gmac is still on the team with no answers about his future. Don’t get me wrong I like the players that we picked but I just don’t see how they fix the perceived problems on our football team.

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  14. I like the Gay pick purely based on the fact he has power and accuracy. Whether he can be mentally consistent is another thing.

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  15. I thought the Bucs should have targeted more offense and defensive linemen in the draft. Regardless, it seems obvious the Bucs are going to move on from GMC. I would like GMC on the team for about 50 to 75% of his current salary, but if he is unwilling the Bucs could potentially sign the DT picked ahead of him(Ndamukong Suh) for much less than $13MM per year.

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  16. Thank you buddah, you aren’t as alone as you think.

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  17. I loved this draft with exception of the WR pick. I’ll admit I was not familiar with some of the picks because I like many was enamored with the big name players and not focused on the extreme vetting processes our scouts and new coaching staff utilize to evaluate talent. However once I researched the picks after the fact and the impact each had on his college team I was very impressed. I think part of the focus of this draft was to correct previous mistakes and it’s obvious that Arians and company really completed a strong thorough evaluation of the roster on hand before the draft. While I don’t predict wins and losses and seldom comment on underwear football, I am very comfortable with our talent pool esp, DB’s (our weakest position) I am optimistic for 2019.

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    • Good comments – I too had to post review the picks to see why they might have chosen certain players over more-hyped names and we can only hope the fresh looks in the draft room and all the research and extra coaches find those hidden gems Arians speaks of. Most picks after the 4th are hit and miss and first undrafted FAs have as much chance as making the team, so time will tell. As to DL/OL, we’ll have the second wave of FA after everyone loaded up on DL (further depressing the market for McCoy & Suh), and always a few unexpected CAP hits. As this article points out – look at our dead CAP money after this year and it plunges so 2-4 restructures could free up a lot of cash. August IS a long way away. I am not quite where you’re at as to 2019, but see potential building blocks and am optimistic for 2020 when the CAP changes in a big way.

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  18. I like that we got faster on the defensive side of the ball and filled some big needs. What fans need to realize is that you cannot fix every need through the draft. I think the staff did there best to fill as many needs as they could. I would have preferred an o-lineman instead of the receiver we took, and just take Gay in the 6th round. But overall I think the draft was pretty good. now we can cut some of the DB’s like Ryan Smith to help create some cap space.

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    Rating: +15. From 15 votes.
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  19. Only time will tell… Yes Allen would have been great comin off the edge, Jonah Williams Dru Samia and Chris Lindstrom would have been Amazing on our line, I would have Loved to have a whole lot of the players we didn’t get. And yes it all starts in the trenches ultimately, but if you actually stop and think about what we had in the Secondary. We legitimately had VH3, who time will TE if he has a solid complete season, Carlton’s Davis who shows promise but still unproven and that is really it at CB, nobody in the Slot. At Safety we have Evans and who else? Bucannon At “Money Backer” but that was it! And all of you complained about it all offseason so far “But who is gonna be in the Secondary?!” Well we now have 2 solid Rookies to compete at CB and what appears at least to be a firey Fast hard hitter in Edwards to join Evans at Safety. These guys are Rookies and will by no means be proven Vets by Week 1 but all of a sudden our Secondary is still young but has a lot more talent.

    And White may not have been the sexy pick most were hoping for but come Nov everyone is gonna be enamored with having the fastest most fired up and motivational Middle Linebacker in the league (if all goes well of course)

    And if the Kicking Gods are willing and merciful we may just have a kicker that doesn’t fall short on 57 yard kicks. Not to mention a possible steal at DE in Anderson and a WR that although small has a hell of a nice highlight reel…

    We just got a hell of a lot faster on Defense, brought in its new Leader and might be setting ourselves up for an Inspirational season. Time will tell and either way I’m a Bucs Fan till the end…

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  20. I like the picks too but these are the type moves you make when you are in a rebuild. All of those DB’s picked between this draft and last years will not make the team and so you have either waisted picks. That is not what you do when you are ready to compete this season. I don’t know maybe we are in a soft rebuild.

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  21. @dbenn2012 how come you’re the only one who can reply to comments on here? Lol

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  22. I’m not sure why pewter is surprised that no one gave the Bucs everything for McCoy Jason gave McCoy too much money for what he’s worth all the other teams including the pewter trolls know that he will get his release and sign at a discount with a team he thinks can get a ring the best thing for the buckqq is for him not to stay in the NFC South and not sign with New Orleans

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  23. People think we can sign Suh for less than McCoy makes lol haha you know Suh made 14 mil with the rams last year. OK so every one is crying that the Bucs picked a kicker in the 5th round. The 5th round!!!!!!!!!! over 3/4th of the players drafted in the 5th round will be free agents by the end of the year. 5th rounders are more likely to be out of the league in a year than they are to be starters the next season. Yes every once in awhile a damn good player will come out of the 5th round but that is not the norm and never will be. The best players are picked in the 1st and 2nd rounds after that its AT BEST a 50/50 crap shoot on the players picked to even be on the team that drafted them in 2 years let alone be impact starters. If Licht doesn’t try to find a good kicker we will never have one. YOu cannot get scared because one draft pick at a certain position didnt work out 3 years ago. If that was the case no GM would ever draft any players period as every GM has picked a player and had them suck in the NFL!! Crying over a 5th rd kicker is asinine in my mind. That the round where you start to look at kickers and punters if you need one for your team and we need one as Santos cannot be counted on to make anything over 40 yards. the guy flat out has the weakest leg of any kicker we have had in a very long time. From 40 yds in he is good but anything over 40 and it’s like his kicking power just vanishes poof gone.

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    Rating: +12. From 12 votes.
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  24. I have to throw a little fact correcting Post in Todd Bowles ran the worst defense in the NFL the last 2 years Ariens did not win 8 games in 2017 he won seven games had a losing season pewter trolls like the build-up crap in their posts start Basin your spew on facts

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  25. Mark, I really like your last paragraph about Greedy who I also had as the top rated corner on the board. If Bunting turns out to be a bust (which I hope he doesn’t, as a fan I want him to be a star) and Greedy is a pro bowl level corner, doesn’t Licht have to get fired for that? I feel like he gets way too much leeway and isn’t held accountable for when he takes bad players over great ones. I could go through a long list of bad players he took over great ones but it would take too long.

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    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
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  26. The kicker pick is only bad because of the failed trade up reach previously. This dude looks like he can kick and on any other team you’re fine with it, but looks like an anus pick here due to Licht’s past bliunders

    I think Dean is the worst pick of the draft based on where he was drafted then the 160 lb sissy from Bowling Green. The kicker is probably going to be the best pick behind White IMO, then Bunt Cake

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  27. My preference was to select starting caliber players at OT, RG, DT and DE, then add D backfield, LB and best available athletes. D. White is a potentially great pick. Any players selected after that strike ANYBODY as great?

    On D, I don’t know the 3-4 so I accept that I just don’t know what I’m talking about. But our talent in the trenches just doesn’t seem to scare anybody.

    On O, not selecting a OT/RG is driving me nuts. The Bills jumped us and selected my choice Cody Ford, but Risner of K State was there and would compete for a starting job this season.

    And instead of adding three newbies to our already green secondary, how about signing a FA or two that can provide production and mentor the young guys. Lastly, I love drafting speed, but Ryan Smith has been the fastest player on D the past few years. Although he’s great covering punts and kicks, he’s not a pro caliber cover guy.

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  28. I’ve seen a lot of football in my life. Followed a lot of teams. I’ve never seen a personnel guy be as bad at evaluating a single position as Jason Licht is at evaluating kickers.

    Licht’s Greatest Hits:
    2015 – Traded for Kyle Bridza.
    2016 – Traded up to select Roberto Aguayo in the second round (59th overall).
    2017 – Signed Nick Folk to a one year 1.75 million dollar contract.
    2018 – Signed Chandler Cantanzaro to a 3 year 9.75 million dollar contract.
    2019 – Selected Matt Gay in the fifth round. Highest kicker selection in the NFL since Roberto Aguayo (145th overall).

    Even a blind squirrel find an acorn in a field before Jason Licht finds a kicker. Can’t wait to see which kicker gets signed/drafted in 2020.

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  29. The team could think Santos is adequate and serviceable, not a negative, but they want more.

    Santos does not have a strong leg. Gay does.

    Besides, statistics prove any player drafted after the 4th round is a crapshoot anyway.

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  30. My-my-my, how soon we forget what our problems were and how little we did to correct them in this draft.
    The mathematical between between 4.5 & 4.3 as to speed is insignificant.
    There’s only one thing at this point after this draft that we can hope for and that is good coaching. This is what I am hoping for now.

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  31. Only time will tell, but most experts gave us an A. It’s a sold B to me. I liked the draft overall and if kicker is good nobody will care he was 5th rd pick. I trust Arians and it’s stupid to pick apart a draft at this point when nobody has played. Go Bucs.

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  32. At least we aren’t the Giants.

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  33. The Giants beat us last year Bucry and not because of OBJ, think Barkley ran wild. Hence Dline

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  34. Gerald is probably a top 5 at his position. The Bucs will be a much better team if Gerald is on our team. Figure out a way to restructure his contract. I haven’t read one word about the Bucs trying to restructure his contract. This should be a priority.

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  35. The question is: is GMC willing to restructure to stay in Tampa given how awkwardly this whole situation has been handled? I’d love to see him stay under a restructured deal, mostly because there appears to be very little current depth at the DT/NT spots (even if Vea plays the 3-tech DT spot). But it seems that both sides have some significant bargaining power to make a case for a different conclusion. This will be one of the more interesting Bucs story lines of the next few months.

    This draft class seems to imply that we’re going to see a lot more DB looks of 5+, with heavy blitzing (hence the speed). Nickel sets may be the largest subset of formations, but Dime sets look like a real possibility for double-digit percetange of looks as well – and that would imply that there’s a lot of two down lineman looks. Should be very different than what we’re used to seeing in Tampa.

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  36. Mike Evans’ contract is exactly what I’ve been pointing to in my argument to keep GMC. If there’s anyone who’s an obvious candidate on this team for a signing bonus conversion to clear cap space (and by “obvious”, I mean safe), it’s a Pro-Bowl level WR in his prime who will only be 30-31 when it comes time for his next deal. You don’t even have to do a full conversion of his base salary – converting half of it ($8.5 million) and combining that with a few cuts of folks who clearly aren’t long for the roster after the draft gets you to the cap space you need, and that’s assuming GMC doesn’t agree to a cut (there’s no indication he’ll agree to that, but also none that he won’t). We all can agree that GMC’s performance the last couple of years doesn’t measure up to his contract, but his performance isn’t at such a low level for that to be enough reason alone to cut him.

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  37. McCoy’s going to the Browns in a trade for Duke

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  38. D Line is NOT who stops the run primarily.
    They plug holes so the LBs can shoot the gaps.

    That’s why the good ones have 130 tackles a year.
    White was the perfect pick not only for that but his ability to cover ANY TE in this league down the field.

    Dude is a Super Star

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    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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