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 does the market seem slow for the Buccaneers this offseason? Other than Tom Brady and Joe Haeg I am surprised nothing has been done at running back. Is there a plan in place for drafting a RB in second- or third-round or would Devonta Freeman be an option?
Answer: The biggest factor – and priority – was figuring out Tampa Bay’s quarterback situation. That also was a large chunk of the team’s salary cap since the official signing of Tom Brady last Friday to a two-year, $50 million contract. Since then the team has been able to concentrate its efforts on other positions and knew how much money they would have to work with.
But as PewterReport.com stated over the last few weeks, the Bucs were focusing on quarterback, and then keeping as many pieces of the defense together as possible. And with the re-signing of outside linebacker Jason Pierre Paul and the tagging of outside linebacker Shaq Barrett they are well on their way. Those two signings weren’t cheap so now the team is being budget conscience with their remaining cap space.
Tampa Bay also brought back safety Andrew Adams and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches and would still like to have defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh returns as well. They may be waiting to see what kind of interest Suh draws on the open market before making a firm offer. But remember, it was May before Suh signed with Tampa Bay in 2019, and the two sides don’t seem to be in a huge rush to get it done.
The Buccaneers are still evaluating some of their other free agents, and what they plan to do, including offensive tackle Demar Dotson. The Bucs addition of tackle Joe Haeg may have some bearing on what they decide on the future of Dotson, as Haeg can play right tackle.
As far as running back, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them sign a veteran running back – perhaps Devonta Freeman – depending on cost, and then also draft one early. While running back is normally one of the easier positions for a rookie to be successful at early, we saw the development of Ronald Jones II take a full season. The problem with that is, the Bucs don’t have a year to spare waiting on a rookie to develop, in my opinion. The window is two years at the most with Brady on board, that is why I think they could bring in an established back to give the offense more balance in 2020.
Question: Was there ever any doubt that Tom Brady was coming to Tampa Bay? Did he seriously consider the Chargers or did everybody just agree to keep quiet until free agency opened?
Answer: For most Bucs fans, there was doubt right up until we saw Brady announce his signing on social media last Friday. Bucs fans have been burned a number of times over the years – Bill Parcells, Brett Favre, Chip Kelly and so on – so until it was official, there was some warranted nervousness throughout the fan base.
But there was some discussions with other teams including the Chargers, and a recent report suggested the Raiders were also sniffing around last week as well, considering if Brady was an upgrade over Derek Carr.
Personally, the team I was most concerned about were the Patriots. While it appeared the two sides were both agreeing a divorce was ultimately going to be the finals verdict, you always worry about one of the two parties deciding at the last minute that they can’t live without each other. Twenty years and six Super Bowl championships is a lot to throw away, but in the end, the two sides stayed firm in their belief they were better off without each other.
Question: What further free agent signings do you see the Bucs making – QB? RB? WR? Do they re-sign Breshad Perriman or Ndamukong Suh?
Answer: The team most likely signs a quarterback and Blaine Gabbert could be that guy back with the Buccaneers. Bruce Arians was high on Gabbert last year before a shoulder injury sent him to injured reserve and with his knowledge of the system it makes sense he could return as a backup and also a guy in the meeting room to help Brady grasp things that Arians likes a to do a little quicker.
Drew Stanton is another possibility as well, but Gabbert seems to make the most sense in my opinion since he was here a year ago and is younger at age 30 than the 35-year old Stanton.
As I mentioned earlier, adding a veteran running back might be on the agenda. Dion Lewis is someone the Bucs could have some interest in. He played with Brady in New England before joining the Titans but was recently released. Perhaps former Falcons running back Devonta Freeman could be of interest at the right price. Both Lewis and Freeman are good pass catchers out of the backfield.
And lastly, the Bucs are definitely interested in bringing Breshad Perriman back – but at their price. The former first-rounder did have a breakout last few games of the season after Mike Evans and Chris Godwin went down with injuries. Perriman has always had the talent, but up until late last season, had never been able to put it all together and show any type of consistency.
Perriman is an option but the team isn’t going to go crazy and overpay him just based on a handful of successful games. Perriman not being signed by another team is an indication that the other teams in the NFL aren’t convinced he is a 16-game starter as well. And he could be back on another one-year deal – perhaps around $4 million again.
Question: I want the team to win it all. However, I keep having the feeling the organization will do more to win now since Tom Brady is QB1 more than ever before. I believe in the past they robbed Peter to pay Paul with certain players i.e. moving Ali Marpet. Do you think so?
Answer: The Bucs have to do all they can to win now. Tom Brady is here for two years and that’s it. Most likely the same with head coach Bruce Arians, who turns 68 this year. Tampa Bay didn’t walk away from Jameis Winston, the franchise leader in most passing categories and sign a six-time Super Bowl winner, to just hope things work out. The team will be proactive in giving Brady everything within its power to be successful over the next two seasons to see if it is enough to win a Super Bowl.
Of course an argument could be made, why didn’t they do this when Winston was here? But the team wasn’t as close as it is now – at least that’s how the organization feels. Things have come together to the point where the Bucs believe they can compete for a Super Bowl title in the next two years. They knew that wasn’t the case over the last five seasons. There were too many needs and holes on this roster and the organization was realistic. The Bucs defense needed to be rebuilt and that happened at the end of the 2019 season.
I will say this, had Brady not come to Tampa Bay and had the Buccaneers been forced to fall back to Winston as the starter, I truly believe they would be doing the same things for Winston as they want and will do for Brady, which will include upgrading the offensive line and running backs by the time the offseason is over.