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: Hey guys, thanks for the great content you post! Do you think we can expect a Carl Nassib-like signing to provide quality depth to DL/EDGE? It’s probably our strength on defense but still one injury away from becoming a weakness.
Answer: Striking gold like the Bucs’ front office did with Carl Nassib, who was a waiver wire claim in 2018, doesn’t happen very often. However, we have to give Jason Licht and his staff credit for finding some solid players over the years with cuts, trades and and waiver wire claims. You mention Nassib, but we can add offensive linemen Logan Mankins, Gosder Cherilus and Joe Hawley as in-season additions to that list as well. Plus, players like safety Andrew Adams, who was signed to replace Chris Conte after the season began and even tight end Cam Brate, who was brought back after being signed off of the Saints practice squad in September of 2015, after initially cutting him prior to the start of the season.
There of course will be cuts as the season approaches and the Bucs will be looking to upgrade the roster wherever they can. As mentioned, the talent and experience at the outside linebacker position are thin on this team after Shaq Barrett, and Jason Pierre-Paul. At least on paper at this point.
The Bucs spent a fourth-round pick on Anthony Nelson in 2019, but injuries hampered his rookie season and he’s yet to record a sack or shown that he can be an effective pass rusher. Nelson looks like Nassib in terms of his 6-foot-7, 271-pound frame, but Nassib was a proven performer. PewterReport.com’s Jon Ledyard analyzed Nelson’s game in a recent column.
Teams never know who might emerge once training camp begins and throughout the preseason. I am sure Tampa Bay would love to add some depth, but so would most teams.
Question: Who’s the RB1 on this team?
Answer: I don’t think there is any question at this point that the starting running back is Ronald Jones II. As the team’s leading rusher in 2019 with 724 yards, six touchdowns and a healthy 4.2-yard average – and with his main competition in Peyton Barber now in Washington – it is Jones’ job to lose. Barring injury, it will be No. 27 starting the season behind Tom Brady when the season kicks off in New Orleans in September. Coaches have raved about what they saw from Jones last year, particularly late in the season, and there is no reason to think Jones won’t be the starter, unless he completely melts down in camp – or gets injured.
The Buccaneers do like rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn who was drafted out of Vanderbilt in the third round last April, but so far, the team has yet to see him in action other than his college tape. Vaughn is one of those players head coach Bruce Arians was speaking of when he talked about the 400 lost reps this offseason without any rookie mini-camps or OTAs.
Not having any OTAs or mini-camps will hurt any player’s development, but certainly one who is coming into a new offense, learning a brand new playbook. And there is only so much teams and players can do in a virtual meeting. Tampa Bay’s training camp begins on July 21, but there may be a week’s worth of rookie camp to help players like Vaughn and running back Raymond Calais, the team’s seventh-round pick in 2020, prepare for camp.
If Jones stays healthy, I believe he becomes the Bucs’ first 1,000 rusher since Doug Martin in 2015. With Brady under center, expect the Tampa Bay offense to be more balanced and not playing from behind as often.
Question: What do you think the Bucs will have to do to find more cap space to sign the draft class and possibly get some veteran depth at needed positions?
Answer: The Bucs will need to take a look at the top earners on the team and see if there is a way to re-work their contracts to free up space. That is always the easiest solution for teams. They could also possibly ask a couple of players to take salary cuts as they did Beau Allen prior to the start of 2019. And then there is always the possibility that they redo a few deals, extending players and pushing some of the 2020 salary into guaranteed money down the road. Tight end Cam Brate has already taken a $2 million pay cut this offseason.
Tampa Bay, like all NFL clubs, is facing a potential major issue in 2021 depending on how this season plays out in terms of revenue. The salary cap is tied directly to the amount of revenue that teams generate and if for example there are no fans, or even a limited amount of fans in the stands this season, that will directly affect the salary cap in 2021, which may be flat and not see an increase.
Question: What’s the Bucs’ stance on player protests? The NFL is entertainment and people go to games to escape reality, not to have political arguments with the guy in the next row. I agree with the protesting in spirit, but aren’t these guys paid to play football?
Answer: The Buccaneers put out a fairly lengthy statement last week regarding protests and their thoughts on what has taken place since the death of George Floyd two weeks ago. The Tampa Bay organization have been the most diverse organization during its nearly five decades of existence, including drafting three African-American quarterbacks (Doug Williams, Josh Freeman, Jameis Winston) in the first round, plus hiring three African-American head coaches (Tony Dungy, Raheem Morris, Lovie Smith).
No other NFL team comes close to that standard, and Tampa Bay is the only NFL team that has employed four African-American coordinators – Todd Bowles (defense), Byron Leftwich (passing game/play caller), Harold Goodwin (running game) and Keith Armstrong (special teams) – at the same time during the 2019-20 seasons. Add in the Bucs having the league’s first team to hire two full-time female coaches on staff, and it is clear the Glazer family is open and receptive to positive change and promoting diversity within the organization.
I am not sure what the dynamics of protests might look like when September rolls around, but the current movement for equal justice and equal rights we are seeing in our country and throughout the world, won’t diminish anytime soon in my opinion. The NFL has embraced it, as the league should. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell put out a video last week essentially acknowledging that the NFL handled the Colin Kaepernick kneeling protest completely wrong. We will know in September if that was genuine and sincere statement depending on how things are handling by the NFL.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: We were wrong to not listen to our black players. pic.twitter.com/mM1VShZRHf
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 7, 2020