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: Why did the Bucs pick ILB Devin White over DE/OLB Josh Allen in the draft? Did Allen bomb the interview as was rumored?

Answer: I wouldn’t say that Josh Allen bombed the interviews as much as Devin White nailed his. Another factor was the fact the Bucs were in desperate need of an inside linebacker. With the loss of Kwon Alexander in free agency, and the lack of depth at that position, the Buccaneers needed a linebacker badly. And it just so happened that White was viewed by the front office as a generational talent at that position.

Kentucky OLB Josh Allen
Kentucky OLB Josh Allen – Photo courtesy of Kentucky

Tampa Bay also felt like the addition of outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, outside linebacker Carl Nassib’s presence, the development of nose tackle Vita Vea and the expected return of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul from injury at some point would boost the pass rush. And rookie pass rushers are notoriously slow staters. That obviously isn’t the case for Allen however, has nine sacks, including one versus Tampa Bay on Sunday.

It will take years most likely to determine who made the best decision, and it could pan out that both teams end up pleased with their selections. After Sunday’s game, Tampa Bay is ecstatic with their selection of White who is getting better and better every week it seems. A week after notching two sacks in Atlanta, White recorded his first career interception and scoop-and-score along with seven tackles in the Bucs’ 28-11 win over the Jaguars

Question: Who gets the franchise tag – QB Jameis Winston or OLB Shaq Barrett? We need to do whatever we can to keep Barrett.

Answer: The Buccaneers are very aware that they need to find a way to keep Shaquil Barrett in red and pewter for years to come, and plan on making him a priority to re-sign before free agency begins in 2020. They will do what it takes to make a fair market offer to Barrett, even possibly before the season ends.

The big issue is, if Barrett signs prior to the end of the season, he could be leaving money on the table. A 20-sack season would pay considerably more than a 14.5-sack season. Of course the other side of that equation is, what if Barrett gambles on an offer – if one were to come prior to the conclusion of 2019 – from Tampa Bay and suffers a major injury? Then he will miss out on a ton of money.

Bucs linebackers Shaq Barrett and Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images
Bucs linebackers Shaq Barrett and Devin White – Photo by: Getty Images

As far as Jameis Winston goes, there are still some questions marks. At least more than there is with Barrett. In an ideal world, Tampa Bay signs Barrett to a long-term deal, and that leaves the franchise tag option on the table for Winston if the Bucs decide they aren’t ready to offer him a long-term deal.

Question: If Peyton Barber’s 17 attempts for 44 yards (2.6 avg.) average is considered the “hot hand,” can we expect to see a more legit RB being signed in the off-season? Other than Ronald Jones II, I don’t see a quality RB for this backfield.

Answer: With this running back unit’s recent lack of success, the age old question is, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Meaning, is it a lack of star power at running back, or would even Walter Payton struggle to get 100 yards in a game behind this offensive line?

Peyton Barber received all the touches after starting running back Ronald Jones II was benched early in the game after missing a blitz pick-up. Some may not have liked Bruce Arians’ decision, but it will pay off in the end as the message to Jones is that picking up blitzes is just as important as toting the rock. Ideally, the Bucs want RoJo to be a three-down back for Tampa Bay – not just a first- or second-down runner. For that to happen, he has to become better at correctly identifying the blitzer and adequately picking him up.

To your point about next year, Barber will be an unrestricted free agent and if he returns to the Bucs it will likely be as a backup role player – not a real threat to Jones’ capacity as the starter. But that’s if Jones can continue his development in the passing game.

Week after week, Arians continues to say the offensive line is playing well, and at times that is absolutely the case, but if we are going to continually question the consistency of the quarterback and the secondary, isn’t it fair to ask about the consistency – or lack thereof – from this offensive line? Last week, Tampa Bay’s offensive line allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback hit. On Sunday in Jacksonville, Winston was taken down four times, hit seven times, and was under duress a good number of plays when he dropped back to pass.

Bucs RB Peyton Barber
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And take away Winston’s 20 rushing yards and the Buccaneers managed to rush for just 54 yards on the ground in Jacksonville. It worked on Sunday, but averaging less than three yards per carry isn’t conducive for winning football. There are just too many carries for no yards or for negative yards.

I am guessing the offensive line will be a priority this coming offseason, particularly in the draft next April. It should be at least.

Question: The Bucs played their most balanced game against the Jags. The offense and the defense both clicked, but what happened to the offense in the second half?

Answer: Up 25 points, I think it was a case of the Buccaneers going conservative and trying to milk the clock without taking any unnecessary risks. The way the Bucs defense was playing, the coaching staff felt if the offense didn’t turn the ball over and allow some quick scores, then Tampa Bay would win the game – even after Nick Foles was benched for Gardner Minshew. And the Bucs coaches proved to be right.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Jacksonville’s coaching staff and its defense also deserves credit. The Jaguars made some adjustments at halftime, but with a 25-point lead, the Bucs were going to have to help Jacksonville get back in the game, and that didn’t happen. Tampa Bay had just one turnover – fumble by quarterback Jameis Winston on a sack from behind, but the Bucs defense was able to hold the Jaguars to just three points off of that turnover.

Previous article2-Point Conversion: White, Bucs Defense Comes Up Big In Win Over Jags
Next articleBucs’ Arians: “Finally Understanding Situational Football”
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]

41 COMMENTS

  1. I’m guessing that the Bucs will make a strong play to retain Barrett and will franchise Winston. I have heard that Barrett loves his coaches, enjoys this defense and my guess has some loyalty to the organization that gave him a chance. I’d bet there is a very good chance he’ll resign with us. I think BA has some loyalty to Winston and will want to give him a second chance with the hope that playing with a more effective defense causes Winston to not feel he has to win games by himself.

    What I would love to see is Winston signing a 1 year deal for less than market value with the understanding that he really hasn’t played up to what he’s capable of so he takes less than a franchise tag to allow the team enough cap room to sign other better players and winning back the fans a bit with a lower deal to show he puts the team ahead of himself. To me, if Winston want to show the team that he’s all in, he does a Brady style deal that allows the team to add better talent.

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  2. Bucs haven’t franchised a player since K Conner Barth in 2012. They’ve only used that tag 3 times in their entire history. I wouldn’t expect anyone to get the tag.

    Having said that, I really hope the Bucs have money to pay Barrett and Suh. Those two guys have been awesome leaders this year. How much better is Vea(and the whole defensive line) with Suh? Seriously!

    If Winston won’t take 22-25mil/yr to stay, then I hope they let him test the market. His penchant for turnovers and meltdowns outweighs his lofty passing yardage numbers. Perspective: Tom Brady is the 13th highest paid QB at 23mil this year.

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    • The franchise tag is based on the average of the top 5 player contracts at the position Based on 2019 contracts, that would be about $33.6 million.
      #1 Wilson: 35 M
      #2 Rothlisberger: 34 M
      #3 Goff: 33.5 M
      #4 Rodgers: 33.5 M
      #5 Wentz: 32 M

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  3. Winston won’t be franchised, IMO based on the number. Its not like the Bucs get cap relief by franchising Winston. Two options. Sign him ASAP to a 3-5 year deal that is team and player friendly. I’m seeing 3 years then two years of team options with $60-70mil guaranteed, with years 4 and 5 at $30mil per season. IE, if Winston plays well, he gets paid and both sides are happy. If he doesn’t, make it easier to walk away for the team. The Bucs will have to pay for flexibility and Winston will have to gamble that he meets expectations. This biggest question is how are they going to figure out how to pay Evans and Godwin. Godwin has a bigger role in the Arians/Leftwich offense, but Evans may be the rarer skill set. Committing near $40million yearly to two WR’s is impossible to work around. Licht’s ability to manipulate the cap will be tested. JPP, Shaq, Suh and Nassib will be $$$$. Anyone notice how the team started to win when JPP and Nassib returned? I have.

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    • Its why I repeatedly said, If we are gonna keep Winston then lets build..have one hellava Defense..2nd to none like the old days when we won a championship. It can be done with commitment. When we play above average Defense, We seem to Win. Hell, Ray Charles can see that!

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  4. Be cheaper to franchise Barrett. If we spend more money on defense then on Winston, we can win with any capable QB, we don’t need a 33 million dollar one. We need a RT, I don’t know if he’ll be in this years draft, but watching the kid from Bama Saturday, I was impressed. Just pancaked a D linemen on a TD run. We can use someone like. We don’t need a project at RT we need a stud. Draft one high from a big time program for a change Licht.

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  5. I wouldn’t franchise Winston no matter how the season ends; have those 20 interceptions mysteriously disappeared?
    I would offer a very fair figure which would include guarantees and incentive bonus for less interceptions and fumbles.

    First round pick has to be an offensive tackle.

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  6. Here’s the problem Licht has created:

    Donovan Smith = $14.5m dead cap money in 2020. We have no choice but to go through 2020 again with the worst rated LT in the league, the one guy who has shown up on PR’s Most Disappointing list more than any other Buc over the last 5 years.

    Losing that much money to a massively underperforming player, is team-destroying.

    On top of that, Licht has negotiated contracts for the following players such that they either have to get restructured, or be cut before next season:
    LaVonte David – owed $10.75m if not cut
    Ryan Jensen – owed $10m if not cut
    Cam Brate – owed $6m if not cut
    Will Gholston – owed $4.75m if not cut
    Jameis Winston – option to franchise for around $33m if not cut
    Shaq Barrett – option to franchise for (round figures) $20m-ish if not cut
    All of those contracts could be renegotiated as well, but that’s A LOT of renegotiating! Most likely we’re saying bye-bye to some of those players, and trying to replace them with rookies.

    Speaking of trying to replace, Licht has also now left us with the following players facing FA (unlikely to be tagged):
    JPP – starter
    Minter – started several games at MLB, and with LvD possibly going too, that leaves MLB decimated
    Suh – starter
    Dotson – starter
    Beau Allen – significant playing time
    Perriman – WR3
    Nassib – starter
    Watford – significant playing time
    Peyton Barber – significant playing time

    That’s a whole lot of players to try and replace all at once, on round about $91m of cap space. At least 8 starters need replacing, and 6 guys that saw significant playing time. If we use $33m on Jameis, that leaves $58m to replace 7 starters and 6 other significant players. Let’s be generous and say that we draft 1 guy who is ready to step-in and start….he’ll be relatively cheap at around $6m of cap space. The rest of the rookies will be cheaper but take up cap…maybe another $6m.

    So, Licht has dug the following hole for the team:

    Find (including re-signing) 6 starting caliber free agents and 6 more guys that are good enough to put on the field, with only $46m.

    So there’s that to look forward to….

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    • EastEndBoy, good thoughts and analysis.
      Obviously we cannot franchise Winston because we cannot afford it, nor can we afford it as a team.

      Okay GM, earn your money!

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      • I am coming to a similar conclusion…and preparing for what that means for the franchise. I don’t see a “cap-friendly” deal (e.g., $20m for 5 years, 3 guaranteed) for Winston as that just means more years of potential dead cap for us….ala, the Donovan Smith issue but worse.

        I think we might be looking at a new veteran QB in 2020 that takes $15m on a 2-year (1 guaranteed) deal…and I’m having a hard time getting interested in seeing Case Keenum, or Ryan Fitzpatrick again…or maybe with fingers and toes crossed, in some magical way Ryan Griffin has been a gem on the bench, just biding his time and waiting to finally become a starter…. 🙂

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        • Where is the $20 million for 5 years coming from? That is really low. Winston will command more than that, like it or not. His agent will show the numerous tip, drops and bad routes from WR’s. Bruce Arians has stated that Winston is only on the hook for about half of his INT’s from this season. If they wanted gamble and sign him to a deal as low as 20M/year, the time was last year before picking up his 5th year option. He will definitely exceed $25M/year on the open market.

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          • Yes – I agree…was just thinking that $20m for 5 years is what might be considered “a friendly deal”….but I am under no illusions that Winston is going to sign a “friendly deal”.

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        • Start Ryan griffin good thing you are just a fan not a gm because your takes are atrocious

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          • I guess you missed the “magical”, as in “magical transformation” in my post…

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  7. Agreed with most of you on here. Sign Winston to a cap friendly 3 year deal with say, $18 million with incentives to reach 23-25 if he plays excellent football. I think Winston knows this is is best chance in the nfl and I believe he would take a cap friendly pay check. Resigning Barrett, JPp and Nassib is crucial. Unfortunately Suh May be a cap casualty which I hate bit thats the life of football. We shall see soon enough

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  8. The offensive line has to be the top off season priority. I wonder how much better Winston would have done with a better running game and a better line in front of him. The conservative play calling in the second half could have costed them the game- so predictable!

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  9. Just a few comments. Barrett has 14.5 sacks so far with Buc’s however in 5 year carreer has 28 total. I’m not saying he’s not great for us this year but keep in mind he is in a scheme where Vea and Suh are in the trenches and he is free to rush the passer. Gholston, JPP, Nassib and Allen are in the mix and LB blitzes are all factors. He was let go by Denver. Don’t assume one year is going to attract truck loads of contracts. Aaron Donald only has 9 1/2 sacks and 2 TFL. Not bad for 2018 Def MVP.
    Winston on the other hand loves Tampa and would probably take a modified contract with built in incentives and fewer years. He knows how coaches in general feel about turnovers and he still hasn’t proven that he has a long ball. So I would suggest it’s a little early to talk Franchise Tags and Contracts. A lot can happen (Tua) in the next 4 games, FA, and the Draft.
    Finally let our young DB’s continue to develop, Learn to Win. Focus on Oline and RB in Draft.

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    • You forget, Barrett never really was a starter in Denver – he came in off the bench. The Bucs liked what they saw in Denver and then put him in starting role where he can succeed that Denver never saw him in. That goes on Arians and Licht, and it will cost more to keep him now that his value has been discovered on a relatively low risk one year investment. It is the way free agency goes – you take the good with the bad.

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  10. Yep, Sign Winston to a fair 3-5 yr deal, and try to sign Barrett, Suh, and Nassab if the numbers workout. Move D. Smith to RT where I think he could be pretty good at, and draft LT in 1st round and maybe a developmental center in 3rd round or so. The front office is very good at manipulating the teams salary cap, I have faith.

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    • Well said. Great plan.

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  11. Great comments and good info, all.

    Now I will reread everything again. ;^)
    ____________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  12. I know that some of you all are saying to move Smith to right tackle but has he really played right tackle before?
    For me I would leave him where he is as he is fair; he’s not the problem, it’s in Winston. He’s worth about 15 million a year and if he doesn’t want it, let him move on.
    the GM created the financial problems, so let him figure it out.

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    • We are stuck with Donovan Smith through 2020 – like it or not. I don’t like it, but whaddya gonna do?

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  13. I  am thinking we are likely to lose Suh and Brate and maybe a couple of more people of value because of the money situation.  I hope we can keep Barrett and JPP and maybe Nassib.  We would be foolish to lose Evans or Godwin down the road.  I really don’t know what they should do to keep Winston but I do expect him back.

    We should find a way to get a solid OT and and solid DT in the first two rounds of the draft in my opinion.  We do have a coaching staff under Arians that has shown its ability to get the most out of our young players this year.  

    They have also shown us that they can reclaim people who have underperformed in the past. 

    Finally, BA and Licht  have shown no compunction about cutting our losses no matter where anyone was picked in previous drafts. I am sure there will be a surprise or two, Something will happen that I never thought about.
    _________ 
    Go Bucs!!! 

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  14. Pewter Report hates Barber, but start good lord – just look at the game. The bulk of his carries were short yardage – inside the 1 yard line after the interception, in the second half when we’re eating clock and the D is stacked and at the end of the game in the last minutes when we’re running the clock and the defense is loaded for the run. Not to mention where after good runs they get called back.

    Jones and Barber make a good tandem. What we need are O lineman that can run block and an offensive scheme that actually emphasizes running the ball.

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  15. Hate to break it to everyone, but no way Winston comes in at less than $25M. Prescott is talking close to $40M and with a significantly stronger team around him in Dallas is pretty average. Other QB’s that might be available – Kase Keenum, Fitz, Mariota, Andy Dalton, Bridgewater, are either on their downside and not worth it or not going to be any better than Jameis. [Think Bridgewater could survive behind this O line – not!].

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    • If Jason Licht valued the OL, as much as he does other positions, no one would have to “try and survive” behind our OL. He should have launched Donovan Smith instead of resigning him, and selected an OT in 2019 (like a Jonah Williams) – and then do it again in 2020 to replace Demar Dotson who has slipped considerably.

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  16. If Winston is seeking Dak Prescott money the Bucs should pass fast. They could draft a QB in the first round, let Gabbert and Griffin compete to start and keep the whole defense and offense in tact. Take back-to-back-to-back offensive tackles in the 2nd and 3rd like last year with defensive backs. Let competition sort out who starts. Smith will be in Tampa next year but the Bucs arent committed after that.

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  17. Right- Winston is not going to get Matt Ryan/ Russell Wilson money- $30-35M. But, he is right in line to get Matt Stafford/Derek Carr money $25-27M. $15M would make him the lowest paid 2nd contract QB in the league.

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  18. At some point these kind of salaries have got to stop or the NFL will be out of business several years from now. The way I see it, they’re basing it on the top five players at that position and that is crazy.

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  19. Looks like we could have Nick Foles at $22m per year for 3 years….plus get some draft capital from the Jags too. Any takers?

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    • Too much of a risk going for Foles, the guy has never played good anywhere in his career outside of philly.

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      • Ya – I would not be excited to have him either….just saying it looks like he’s on the market….and with draft capital.

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        • He’s certainly not the worst but I just feel like we don’t need to risk it with him.

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  20. I hate it, but they will package O.J. and a high pick to move up and pick the top LT. Next year I also hate that Suh won’t be back unless he takes less $; and he won’t.

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  21. Offensive line must be our top priority! It’s been a problem for years and I hope Arians clearly sees that it’s a problem. We will not succeed running his offense without giving whoever the qb is time for the plays to develop downfield. I do believe Winston will be back no matter what next year. I’m also sure Shaq will be back no matter what.

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  22. Absolutely hysterical reading the comments from folks who not only think they can evaluate football talent; they now enter into the mysterious world of the salary cap believing they can figure that out too. It’s far too complicated when teams actually have a “capologist”. Yet we think our comparative Jethro Bodine “ciphering” has it all worked out. What’s the point?

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    • Don’t take it so personally scubog. The entire point of this chat board is to [email protected]#$ about the Bucs. To speculate – even way too early. To let out some opinions, ideally with some facts behind them. To agree, to disagree.

      If all we do on here is give cheers to the team…that’s a little boring. Why not do a bit of research and give your views on some player on the team, on the practice squad, in college…or on the GM or the coach. I pleaded recently for anyone in the Licht-fan club to do a bit of analysis and explain why they think he’s done so well….and so far, crickets.

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  23. Scubog I was just thinking the same thing. Season isn’t even over and they aren’t done evaluation Winston. They will decide when this season is over so speculating now is dumb. Especially considering how many million different options there are when it comes to cap and how ridiculously complicated it is. Lol.

    As far as using a high draft pick to get another RB? My god how stupid people are is astounding. If anyone thinks another RB would fare better with this O line keep dreaming. If you think another QB would fare much better your dreaming. Say what you want about Winston but most other QB’s would be hurt behind this crappy line. The guy is not a pussy for sure. Lol.

    They have to replace Dotson that is a given. Has to happen. Would be great to move Smith to RT but with his salary again it just ain’t gonna happen folks. Just have to hope he improved to average at some point.

    All I know is Bucs have a lot of players that need paid and will take some real finagling to do it. On offense and defense.

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  24. I will say this about franchise tag. Just because they haven’t used it much doesn’t mean they won’t. They haven’t been in situation like this with Winston where you have first pick overall in 5th year with crazy amount of talent, penchant for turnovers, and a shit team around him that makes evaluating extremely difficult.

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  25. You move D. Smith to compete at RG where he doesn’t have to stop speed rushers. He doesn’t give up to bull rushes and can block for runs. Have Cappa train to play RT since Tackle is his best position. Use the first pick on a great LT. Use the second pick on a big sacker to replace PFF when age catches up to him. Try to sign Barret to a long term deal but use the Franchise Tag if he won’t. Offer Jameis a five year deal with only the first year guaranteed and put incentive s in it. Third pick get a strong DT to backup Suh. Fourth pick get a QB to back up Jameis or take a chance on Tua if he is still hurt. Fifth pick get a RB to develop with size and good speed. Use BPA with speed to play special teams. Use free agency to obtain a good OL who is versatile as a backup.

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