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: What percentage would you give the Bucs to re-sign Shaq Barrett to a long term deal before next season? Do you think he will take slightly less to get more guarantees as this is his breakout year?
Answer: I would say there’s at least an 80 percent chance Shaquil Barrett gets a long-term extension in Tampa Bay. There is no doubt it is 100 percent that the Buccaneers want Barrett back and will look to extend him as soon as possible, as his price only increases with every sack he racks up. With nine sacks through the first four games, Barrett is on pace to shatter the Bucs’ single-season franchise record of 16.5 that was posted by legendary Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.
The question now is, will Barrett and his agent take a secure long-term deal before the season ends, or decide to gamble on getting to the open market and really maximize the money out there? The gamble is an in-season injury, of course. A blown ACL, a tron rotator cuff or even a slick road and a car accident and broken neck, as we have seen with Jason Pierre-Paul, can quickly take money out of a player’s pocket.
As far as taking less? Barrett, who is making $4 million on a one-year deal in Tampa Bay this year, and his agents want to max out his next deal, as it is the one that will set up his future for life financially. It is possible perhaps he takes a little less for the reason you mentioned, but it won’t be much less. Barrett is approaching the tax brackets of J.J. Watt, Von Miller and other upper-echelon edge rushers in the NFL, which is between $15 and $20 million per season.
Question: Was it just me or did the Bucs’ O-line look good on Sunday against the Rams?
Answer: No, it wasn’t just you. Tampa Bay’s offensive line had its best game of the season on Sunday against the best front seven it has faced all year. And maybe the best the O-line will face all season.
I was only able to view it from high above the L.A. Coliseum’s playing field, but from first glance, the Rams and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips tried everything they could to pressure and create confusion up front, but Tampa Bay’s offensive line was up for the challenge and played inspired football. The fact the Rams only notched two sacks, and defensive tackle superstar Aaron Donald didn’t get a single quarterback takedown is extremely impressive. Notably, left guard Ali Marpet did a great job on Donald one-on-one on several occasions.
Making Sunday’s feat even more improbable was the fact the line came into the game pretty banged up, with center Ryan Jensen practicing sparingly this week with a back injury, and right tackle Demar Dotson being added to the injury report late in the week with a hurt calf.
We beat these guys up pretty bad from time to time, when deserved in our opinions, but on Sunday they were the key to the Bucs’ upset win over the Rams.
Question: If Jameis Winston continues to play like he has the last three weeks, do you see the Bucs re-signing him at some point during the season? If so, when? Also, do you think he will take slightly less to stay with Bucs for sticking with him through all the off-field situations?
Answer: Like the Shaquil Barrett question earlier, expecting Jameis Winston to take less money just to stay in Tampa Bay is probably unrealistic. Winston and Barrett’s agents are hired to maximize the amount of money for their clients, and also get a percentage of the deal from their commission. In theory it sounds nice – hometown discount and all – but the reality is, those type of deals are rare. Everyone wants to get paid, especially on these second contracts, the one that is nine times out of 10 a player’s most lucrative deal.
But to answer your main question, if Winston plays like he did on Sunday, then the Buccaneers can’t get the ink dry on a new deal fast enough. There have been some great games in Winston’s time in Tampa Bay, but his play on Sunday – 28-of-40 passing for 385 yards with four TDs and one INT – against a veteran defensive coordinator with a talented lineup, on the road, across the country, just might have been his best one yet. Winston was confident, decisive with his throws and really accurate for the most part. There was the one inexplicable interception, but that is Winston. You are going to have to live with that from time to time, and his good plays far outweighed his bad ones.
The biggest mistake this staff could make would be to try to turn a gunslinger into a game manger. Find the balance between the two, give Winston time with solid protection and with the talent the Bucs have offensively, and Tampa Bay can win a lot of football games.
Question: When will Rojo officially be the starter?
Answer: Scott Reynolds thinks it could be as early as next week in New Orleans that Ronald Jones II earns the starting running back job. Personally, I like the “hot hand” philosophy the Bryon Leftwich and Bruce Arians have been going with, but the more “hot hands” Jones gets, the harder it will be to not name him a starter.
Jones came into Sunday’s game against the Rams as the Bucs’ leading rusher with 164 yards – one yard ahead of Peyton Barber’s 163 yards – and added 70 more on the ground out in Los Angeles. Tampa Bay had two offensive penalties that also negated runs of 25 and 54 yards that would have pushed Jones’ big day to close to 150 yards rushing.
I don’t remember seeing a player improve and develop more between his rookie season and his second year in Tampa Bay than I have with Jones. Honestly, I was essentially ready to move on from him after such a dismal 2018 campaign. It was as poor of a rookie season as I have witnessed for the most part. But hats off to Jones and this coaching staff for making him look like a completely different back in a single offseason.
The Bucs signed Barber to a one-year deal last offseason, still not knowing what they had in Jones and didn’t draft a running back last April to the dismay of many, myself included. But this staff obviously felt there was talent that they could develop in the 2018 second-round pick, and so far the staff has done a terrific job of doing just that.