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: Will the free agency game plan will be different than last year by signing one or two big free agents? Or should we expect more one-year, prove-it deals since that worked fairly well for them?
Answer: The Bucs’ free agency plan this year will be trying to find a way to keep their own guys, particularly outside linebackers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre Paul and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Sometimes a team’s biggest and best free agent haul is simply re-signing its own guys.
Think about it. Had Barrett stayed with the Broncos last season and notched 19.5 sacks, wouldn’t he be the biggest free agent on the defensive market this year? And wouldn’t Bucs fans be ecstatic if the team were able to lure him to Tampa Bay? Well Barrett would be the biggest free agent on the defensive market if he makes it to March 18 without being re-signed. And had Pierre-Paul or Suh been with other teams last year and the Bucs signed them this season to go along with Barrett, that would be considered a big splash and a great free agent haul by most.
The one-year prove-deals did work out really good for the Buccaneers last season and I expect it to be the same this season with some new players. I don’t see any big names (other than Tampa Bay’s own players) that they might go after. That doesn’t mean the Bucs won’t, especially if they decide to move on from Jameis Winston as a new quarterback after five years would send shockwaves through the Tampa Bay area. At that point the Bucs would really have to spend some money, and probably a hefty amount, to find a replacement.
Question: Is it likely that the Bucs could pick up a ‘good’ veteran QB on a deal that would also allow them to covet a running back like David Johnson, or Melvin Gordon, given the contracts that they are currently carrying? I’m guessing it might need to be no more than $20 million per year for a new QB for that plan to be viable.
Answer: Here is a name to keep an eye on – Las Vegas’ Derek Carr. There is more and more rumbling of Tom Brady going to the relocated Raiders, and while it is far from definite, if it were to happen, then Carr is the obvious odd man out.
I’m told 🏈Las Vegas is prepared to offer @TomBrady $60 million over 2 years.
— Larry Fitzgerald Sr. (@FitzBeatSr) February 14, 2020
Carr doesn’t push the ball down the field like Jameis Winston does, but he hasn’t been asked to in Jon Gruden’s West Coast offense. I think he has adequate arm strength to play in the Bucs offense, and he is still fairly young, but with a lot of game experience. He has all the intangibles Arians likes in a quarterback and he isn’t going to throw 30 interceptions.
I don’t know that he throws for 5,000 yards, but I think Arians would take a 4,000-yard, 20 TDs / 9 INTs guy all day long. And that is what Carr has averaged over the last two years, while completing 69 percent of his passes. In 2015, Carr nearly threw for 4,000 yards with a career-high 32 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions. In fact, Carr hasn’t thrown more than 13 interceptions in any of his six NFL seasons. That has to have some appeal after seeing Winston toss a league-high 30 last year.
In a 30-24 overtime win against the Bucs in Tampa Bay in 2016, Carr completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 513 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a touchdown to account for nearly all of the scoring that day, as general manager Jason Licht looked on.
Carr could be the piece of the puzzle that would allow the Bucs to keep their defense intact, as he only has a $21.5 million cap hit in 2020. Just keep an eye on Carr if the Bucs decide to move on from Winston and the Raiders pursue and succeed in landing Brady.
Question: With all the talk of Miami drafting Tua Tagovailoa, would/should the Bucs be interested in trading for Josh Rosen? At worst he could be an excellent back-up for a mid-round pick who could be a bridge QB and at best he could be the full time starter.
Answer: I really have no idea what the Bucs thought of Josh Rosen coming out of college, but I don’t think he has shown enough in his first two seasons for the Bucs to make a trade. They really value their draft picks and unless it was in the sixth- or seventh-round range, I don’t think they would even consider making a move for a player that two teams have given a shot to be their long-term starter but it didn’t work out with either.
I understand the Arizona situation, as Kliff Kingsbury wanted Skylar Murray, but Rosen didn’t show a lot to the Dolphins organization in his limited opportunities last year as Ryan Fitzpatrick was the better of the two QBs.
And with Bruce Arians’ age and desire to win now, a bridge quarterback doesn’t make sense. I think the next starting quarterback for the Bucs, whether it is Jameis Winston or someone else, will be viewed as a long-term solution.
Question: I know Bruce Arians said some of Jameis Winston’s INTs were not his fault, but I haven’t seen analysis on how many picks would have occurred had defender not dropped the ball or receiver not deflected a horrible pass. Have you guys done that analysis? If so, what is the “adjusted” interception number?
Answer: We didn’t do the analysis, but a league source told us at the Senior Bowl that Winston would have led the NFL in dropped interceptions – according to that team’s independent calculations – with 15 that were deemed to be near picks. So even if you take into account the ones that you could perhaps blame on other factors besides Jameis Winston’s mistakes – around 14 if we’re being generous – then he is still around that 30-interception mark, which is unacceptable.
But the more I think about it, and the more I try and use reason and logic, I would still bring Winston back for another season. On the surface, 30 interceptions is bad. Really bad. But a QB don’t throw for 5,109 yards if he isn’t talented. Just look at the NFL’s 5,000-yard club.
Where are the scrubs? In 100 years of NFL football, eight players have done what Winston did last season, and most of them are in the Hall of Fame or will be in the Hall of Fame. That is really remarkable.
Prior to this season, Winston’s highest interception total was 18. Why would he be worse five years into a career? Winston is never going to be a 10-interceptions-per-year kind of guy. I think we would all agree on that. But had he thrown just 18 last year, which I think would be a more likely number in 2020, the Bucs are in the playoffs. Does Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl with a QB that throws 18 INTs in the regular season? Not likely according to Scott Reynolds’ really interesting data research from his latest SR’s Fab 5 column.
While neither Winston nor the Bucs have officially confirmed it, it appears he played part of the year with a torn meniscus in his knee, and we all know about the broken thumb. Does a healthier Winston throw 30 interceptions?
This isn’t an FSU bias, but I have spent a ton of time thinking about whether Tampa Bay should bring him back – debating it and going back and forth in my own head, and getting input from others about it. In my opinion, the Bucs should give him another year. I have seen Doug Williams, Steve Young and even Trent Dilfer win Super Bowls after leaving the Buccaneers, and I have little doubt we will see Winston at some point hoisting a Lombardi Trophy with another team if Tampa Bay moves on. I don’t want to see that happen.