The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Pewter Report 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: Other than drafting Noah Spence, the team hasn’t seemed to prioritize drafting an edge rusher. While it isn’t a great edge draft class, do the Bucs prioritize a young rusher, or do they try and pick up an older FA? 

Answer: The good news about winning a Super Bowl means a team is pretty solid and without many holes. That gives a team like Tampa Bay more options when entering the draft, meaning it doesn’t need to feel pressured to take a player that must be an impact starter as a rookie. That also allows the Buccaneers to maybe take a little more of a risk as well. General manager Jason Licht might have a gut feeling on a player that other teams don’t have ranked as a first-rounder, or vice versa. It also gives Tampa Bay flexibility to trade out of the first round to pick up additional picks where they can stack up at a position of future need.

Bucs OLBs Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs OLBs Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: USA Today

As you implied, finding a future starter to rush the passer is likely to be high on Licht and his staff’s priority list. Even if the team finds a way to keep Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, who is 31, is likely done after this season. If Barrett doesn’t re-sign, it becomes an even bigger priority with Pierre-Paul’s age.

As you also mentioned, the isn’t a great class in terms of Top 15 worthy pass rushers, but at No. 32 there could be value. PewterReport.com’s Jon Ledyard recently profiled one of those with Miami pass rusher Jaelan Phillips. Read Ledyard’s evaluation here.

In Scott Reynolds’ latest SR’s Fab 5 he took a look at a few options for the Buccaneers if they end up losing Barrett in free agency.

Question: I keep hearing the Bucs can’t bring everyone back. Not sure why bringing back Shaq Barrett, Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown and Ryan Succop is a stretch. They have pushed virtually no money forward – not because of the plan but because they just haven’t had enough good players to re-sign. 

Answer: I completely agree with you. Everyone just assumes the team can’t keep everyone, but that just isn’t the case. However, that doesn’t mean they want to bring everyone back at the price those players want. The Buccaneers can keep anyone they want to be back in 2021 between the franchise tag and re-signing them as free agents.

And while it is true they currently don’t have enough money under the proposed 2021 cap right this minute, the front office can clear enough room through extensions, restructures, pay cuts and salary cap cuts to keep their current class of free agents in Tampa Bay next season. Extending left tackle Donovan Smith, quarterback Tom Brady and even center Ryan Jensen, for example, could clear some cap room, and then there is also the restructure options for some others like left guard Ali Marpet.

Bucs LB Lavonte David

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

That is where the front office and the coaching staff’s prioritization comes into play. Is it worth cutting tight end Cameron Brate, who is scheduled to make $6.5 million to keep running back Leonard Fournette? Are the Bucs sold enough on Smith as their future left tackle for the next five years to bring him back and possibly lower his 2021 cap hit, which is $14.25 million? These are some of the things Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg have been discussing and will continue to talk about.

There is nothing easy about keeping the group together, but it can be done if the Bucs believe they need to bring everyone back.

Question: Let’s say Tom Brady retires and you can replace him with one current NFL quarterback not named Patrick Mahomes. Who are you choosing to run coach BA’s offense?

Answer: I love these type of hypothetical questions from time to time, and this one is particularly fun. Since you eliminated the obvious choice of Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, it get a little more complicated. There are a number of quarterbacks that would look really good in red and pewter. Players like Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Seattle’s Russell Wilson, Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson would be fun to watch and cover, but for me it comes down to the Chargers’ Justin Herbert and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson. I almost threw Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow in this final three, but his youth and the fact that he is coming off a major knee injury kept him off my list.

QB Deshaun Watson

QB Deshaun Watson – Photo by: USA Today

Herbert would be the perfect fit in a Bruce Arians offense. Tough pocket passer, functionally mobile and has a cannon for an arm, Herbert is a future NFL star with a huge ceiling. Can you imagine him getting coached up by Arians?

But at the end to the day, I would go with Watson, who has all of those Herbert traits – although he’s much more mobile – and still can probably grow even more as quarterback. He could be a 10-year starter for the Bucs and break all the franchise records. Watson’s arm is incredible and he was the darling of the league, but has been overshadowed by Kansas City’s star QB somewhat in the AFC the last two years.

For me, Watson has the perfect blend of talent and experience, combined with a lot of football left in the tank and would be my choice. It will be interesting to see where he lands in a trade as the Texans as he wants out of Houston.

Question: Going into the offseason, if you were the Bucs G.M., who is the No. 1 re-sign target, free agent target and need to address in draft?

Answer: It is really hard to pick just one player re-sign target. In fact, the PewterReport.com staff shared its thoughts on who that priority would be in this weekend’s PR Roundtable. I went with wide receiver Chris Godwin as mine, and you can read the article to see who everyone else picked. I still think it would be a crime to see Lavonte David in another uniform other than one with the Buccaneers’ logo on it, but I think the team, especially the Glazers, will make sure he retires in Tampa Bay.

Patriots RB James White and QB Tom Brady

Patriots RB James White and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

As far a a free agent target, I would personally love to see J.J. Watt in a Bucs uniform next season and beyond. Teams can never have enough pass rushers and Watt is still pretty good. And sometimes a change of scenery revives guys who might be on the tail end of their career. Jason Pierre-Paul is a perfect example of that. Other than Watt, I think the Buccaneers must add a veteran pass-catching running back like James White or even Dion Lewis, both of whom have a history with Brady.

In terms of a need to address in the draft, that is wide open for me. Of course my answer might be narrowed down following free agency, based on players the Buccaneers might lose. But as of now, if I had to choose one area the team could use some additional talent, it would be at running back. I’m not saying that have to draft one at No. 32, but for sure in the first three rounds.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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, the beach and family time.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 mark@pewterreport.com
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Pete Wood
4 months ago

I really like the idea of signing Herbert. The Chargers have a history of letting good players go. Ahem, Drew Brees, anyone? It could happen, especially if they screw things up somehow.
Not as high on JJ Watt. I could easily be wrong, but I think his best years are behind him and he’s probably not worth the money. However, if he’s willing to sign for less to get to the super bowl, I’m all in.

ScottC543
Reply to  Pete Wood
4 months ago

SD let Brees go after he suffered a major throwing shoulder injury and they had Phillip Rivers waiting in the wings. No NFL team is stupid enough to just throw away a franchise QB, especially one as talented as Herbert (and trust me, the whole football world sees his talent). Either he walks as a free agent (years from now), or they get a king’s ransom in trade return.

Pete Wood
Reply to  ScottC543
4 months ago

Oh, my thoughts about Herbert are wishful thinking, but if any team is foolish enough to let him loose for a song, that team is the Chargers. A man can dream.
I just think back to Doug Williams and Steve Young who the Bucs cut loose only to watch them win championships with other teams. Bad teams make bad decisions.

scubog
Reply to  Pete Wood
4 months ago

Not to mention Trent Dilfer. See the pattern? Is Jameis next in line?

Pete Wood
4 months ago

I also think we bring all the top players back.
I see nothing but upside this off season unless the Bucs trade up in the draft. Jason will resign key players, get some overlooked affordable players in free agency and have another kickass draft.
The future’s so bright, Buc fans gotta wear shades.

ScottC543
Reply to  Pete Wood
4 months ago

Yep. You don’t get a chance to repeat as SB Champion every day.

Keep the band together and lets do it again!

Horse
Reply to  ScottC543
4 months ago

We won’t “Repeat” if we keep the same team. Other teams get better. Finding a couple new veterans and draftees like we did last season is vital; nothing ever stays the same. We have to get better too.

Eddie
Reply to  Horse
4 months ago

You beat me to it. Totally agreed. Look at Kansas, they tried to be the same team that trounced the Buc in regularly season, looked what happened. NFL coaches are too good, give them an off season to analysis, reload and they WILL beat you. We must change and anticipate the other teams change for us to repeat. No more biscuits

Spitfire
4 months ago

Whoever asked the 2nd question obviously isn’t a Bucs Fan. We haven’t had a lot of wins the past decade and a half but we have had plenty of good players and plenty of Free Agents that we could have given signing bonuses to and screwed our cap like every other team. The front office has done a great job of keeping our cap clean, not because of a lack of talent but for an effort to keep us in a good position on a constant basis. What a silly statement to try and take away from the great job… Read more »

TCB2W!
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

Reading between the lines, it was the Glazers who didn’t want signing bonuses. Arians said we could keep them all if the Glazers let us have the money. That means signing bonuses. So it very well may change this year.

Good wins with Godwin
4 months ago

I think the Bucs should prioritize running back too, but I just really hope they don’t spend a first round pick on the position. There are so many other high-impact positions where we need depth and, honestly, a cheaper future option to start like D-line and Offensive Tackle.

DT25
Reply to  Good wins with Godwin
4 months ago

Agree 100%…only RB in the 1st I’d consider even close to the right value is Najee, and even then…we could get a RB like Gainwell, Felton, or Carter in the 2nd/3rd instead and draft a higher value position in the 1st. It’s also just so weird to me that so many Bucs fans and analysts are talking about the position like RoJo isn’t even here still lol. Like, the dude kept the job for 14 weeks until he got hurt. The coaches constantly deflected idiotic questions about him in press conferences and countless times reiterated they love what RoJo does.… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by DT25
Eddie
Reply to  DT25
4 months ago

Oh yes, James White

Spitfire
4 months ago

It’s funny how for so long we wanted a franchise QB who we could count on more often than not and trust to lead this team through thick and thin. It’s the goal of any team or any fan of a team. Now we finally have the greatest there ever was and all of a sudden our first thought is his eventual replacement. It’s not a knock on him or anything, it’s just once we’ve had the taste of true all around success it makes us want it to continue. (Yes we can success in ‘02-‘03 but that was mainly… Read more »

bucballer
4 months ago

Watt to Cards for 2 years/ 31 mil. I guess it was about the money! So, now we ask ourselves what is Shaw’s worth? Maybe 15-16 mil per? This is going to be interesting.

drdneast
4 months ago

I don’t know why you guys keep dogging our RB corps. RoJo is a good back who has improved his play every year, even his pass catching has improved leaps and bounds and I am willing to be he continues to work on it in the offseason and comes back even better. KeShawn Vaugh had a better rookie year than RoJo averaging 4.2 yds a carry and I don;t doubt that he comes back better with hopefully a full slate of preseason games under his belt. I believe the lack of one hurt him along with a handful of other… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

I feel the same was as you do Dr.D. Sometimes I wonder if people even watch the game and the entire body of work of the player or if they just repeat the often false refrain or base their opinion on but a few examples to justify their agenda. It was clear to me that RoJo was very young when he was drafted and when things didn’t go so well for him early on he totally lost his confidence. That only served to magnify his issues. Then B.A. came along, sensed the problem and restored the kid’s belief in himself.… Read more »

DT25
Reply to  scubog
4 months ago

Think in the end, the coaching staff agrees with you here. I think they still see RoJo and Vaughn as the primary guys next year, and we will almost certainly fill the Fournette/Shady role with someone else. But that guy won’t be asked to carry the load, they’ll likely have the role Shady and Fournette had all season before RoJo was hurt: 3rd down back with the occasional series when we go pass-heavy (and I bet Vaughn takes on more of those duties next season too).

BucHarbour
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Ke’Shawn never had fumble issues. The regular season one was a wicked hit at the right time. The playoff one was a perfectly timed ball punch by the defender when Vaughn was at the most vulnerable falling forward. Folks also forget he was delayed getting to what training camp we had due to COVID. I think he’ll prove to be a much better back than people are giving him credit for after he has an actual off-season and full training camp to get better. Now, I wouldn’t be upset if they picked up Williams or Carter, as you can never… Read more »

drdneast
4 months ago

A lot of those QB’s aren’t even available so why even list them. Aaron Rogers certainly seems to be but he doesn’t give Brady like discounts. It’s all about the money to him. One QB that wasn’t mentioned will definitely be on the loose if not in 2022 he will be in 2023 and that is Matt Ryan. He certainly fits in Arians scheme but whether or not the coach will still be working an NFL sideline is another matter. Even if the Bucs are lucky enough to repeat as SB champions Arians might decide it’s time to exit on… Read more »