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.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

RB Ronald Jones – Photo by: Getty Image

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.

 

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]

31 COMMENTS

  1. Both Barber and RoJo have at least 50 carries so far which shows the Bucs are committed to a rotation to keep both fresh. But I agree that RoJo has gone from 1b to 1a at the RB position given his explosiveness.

    RoJo and Barber are proving to be a nice one two punch so far because combined they have 513 all purpose yards so far.

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  2. I was pretty dismayed last year when all of our armchair GM’s wanted to label Jones a bust and waive him mid season, especially when you consider the putrid blocking he was getting.
    But it just reinforced my opinion that Tampa Bay has some of the least knowledgeable and fickle fans in professional sports.
    If the el foldo Lightining suffer a .500 season or less, there will be such a rush to the lifeboats it will make the Titanic look like the quiet peaceful ocean cruise it was intended to be.

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  3. Not to be cruel, but we have a LB who is earning over 10 million a year who we could cut next year and have plenty of money to put in Barrett’s bank account.
    Not only that, but thanks to JPP, we have a few million dollars extra this year that that the Bucs could add to sweeten the deal.
    I remember all of the negative trolls out there who were bashing the Bucs for letting Alexander walk this year. For all of you hysterical morons out there who would u rather have, Barrett or Alexander.

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    • Well we all know who that person was. I’m just sitting here wondering what twspins excuse will be for the Bucs oline shutting down “a real defensive line.” Lol. This team is gelling and that’s with a new coordinator at almost every position.

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  4. I love how some Bucs fan were calling for jameis head and when he plays good and gets a win they are in love with him 😂😂. I say we still hold it on Jamies contract i like him and see the potential but the main problem was always consistency the way that team has been playing and beating the rams in LA no one should be counting Tampa out in this playoff race cause the NFC South has been blown wide open with Brees and Cam hurt and Atlanta just shitting the bed. This road stretch will be a key factor in a successful season for Tampa but i think they can get it done

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    • Winston has played well in streaks before. Last year, if you look at his stats the last 7 games of the season, he was fairly efficient with the football with only 1 INT and multiple TDs. The problem was his return from his suspension was a disaster.

      The trick is to play well all year. This year so far he is throwing more TDs than ever before as a percentage of his passes. His rate of INTs is averaging the same as last year overall (3.6% this year, 3.7% last year). As long as he stays much “cleaner” throwing the ball than he was the first game, he will get another contract – the first Buc QB to achieve that. The Bucs will play a couple of very good defenses this year – particularly the Detroit Lions (Belicheat’s disciple is the head coach) and the Houston Texans. If he plays well against those two defenses against each then he will for sure get another contract. Note that this year the Bucs play all the NFC South opponents besides the Falcons with 6 games left in the season (four of the games in all). So we will know how the Bucs compare to the rest of the South well before the season is over.

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  5. At the beginning of the season I was in the get rid of Jameis camp, but as difficult as it is to find a franchise QB I think you have extend his contract immediately

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  6. Absurd and insane to suggest getting rid of Winston.

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  7. I expect Licht and Greenberg will get contracts with Winston and Barrett structured similar to what Mike Evans has had. Mike has restructured a couple times this past year in order to help free up cap space. Don’t look for discounts in total worth to the players up front.

    I agree, Mark, that Winston under Arians’ guidance is on track to finding a consistent happy medium between game management and unleashing his inner gunslinger. This will be the test for this year and the rest of his career here … however long that may be.
    ___________
    Go Bucs!!!

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    • Jameis made great plays, had great stats against an elite defense. But then there was that pick 6, and then that throw it up for grabs in the endzone that two Rams crashed into each other trying to haul in another pick. He still needs the quarterback whisperer to work with him this season. In the back of my mind I have that fear that we’re going to have another “Cincinnati game” ahead of us. But lets hope he’s turning the corner. It sure looks like it after these last 3 weeks.

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  8. Dr. d I agree and all Licht badgers can thank him for letting over priced Kwon go and signing Barrett. I actually think even Minter has more value in this 3-4 defense than Kwon would have at any price.

    Go Bucs!

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  9. Barrett will get JPP money in 2020. The way has already been cleared for that. Go Bucs!

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  10. What impresses me most about Licht is his ability to spot and sign players that other teams have overlooked.Barrett and Brate are just two examples. The best players aren’t always high draft picks and high priced free agents.
    What impresses me most about our coaching staff is that they don’t panic. They fix problems. How many fans were ready to cut Rojo before the season, Winston after week one and Gay after week 3? All three have been fixed.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if our secondary vastly improves by next Sunday.
    Go Bucs!

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  11. I’m glad to see Rojo playing like the player that was drafted. Since preseason, I’ve noticed how much better he was, and with each game, he gets a little more comfortable and plays little better. But some of that goes to the O-Line for doing a good job at run blocking. I think with Arians help Rojo can be the next David Johnson, like back when he was really good, maybe even better. A good, explosive, RB was the missing piece of this offense. Now that we have it, and with our O-Line starting to come together and playing as a cohesive unit, this offense just might takeoff. With Rojo and Barber playing like they are, Evans and Godwin playing like they are, we are going to be hard to defend. Now they just need to get O.J. Howard back on track. I feel he is being under utilized. But then again, there’s only so many opportunities to go around when we have the ball. I’m sure his big game is coming soon. Go Bucs!

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    • I didn’t want to leave out our Defense, man, these guys are playing lights out. This is a hard nosed defense, who plays tough, fast, and like gangbusters. From watching other games, I’ve yet to see a defense that plays with as much tenacity as the Bucs right now. Barret has been impressive and quite the surprise. Isiah Johnson is another guy who has surprised me. I always see him around the ball making plays. But it’s hard to single out too many as this group as a whole is a force to be reckon with and all of them deserve some praise. I’m excited to see what they will look like when White gets back and catches on, as well as JPP. If JPP can pickup where he left off last year (I believe he can), him and Barrett will be a force to be reckon with, along with Vea and Suh in the middle. This line will be hard to handle.

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      Rating: +10. From 12 votes.
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      • *Edit* I meant Jordan Whitehead and not Isiah Johnson. My bad.

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  12. I don’t understand the fascination with who the “starter” is at RB. All that means is you play the first play of the first series. Rojo had 19 carries yesterday. Barber had 9. You roll with whoever is hot. Who cares who the “starter” is?

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    • Agreed, and it may change from game to game as both of them have different styles of running. If Rojo gets an opening he has the breakaway speed that Barber lacks. But in a game where the Oline can’t create space, Barber has that pinball style to break tackles and get YAC yardage. I’m happy with the way they’ve both been used in rotation and couldn’t care less who the labeled “starter” is.

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  13. Jones is literally just learning how to use his body. All he did was run straight at USC, and you can see to this day he’s still learning when to shift gears. Supreme athlete who was immature, but now he’s excited and hungry.

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  14. You don’t let good pass rushers go, and we’ve had a hard time finding them in the past. Barrett keeps playing like he is, no way you let him go. Ask Gruden if he’d like a do over with the LB he traded. As far as Winston goes, we have to let the season play out still. He had a great game, but the 49er game was bad, and that’s been the knock on him, being consistent. He has to string games like Sunday along, and not be the up, and down QB he has been. We can still franchise him next year also. The Bucs have stuck by Jameis so far through thick, and thin, so I’m saying maybe he does sign a more cap friendly deal. As of now, he doesn’t deserve to become the highest paid QB in the league just because it’s his turn for a contract.

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    • I appreciate the fact of you acknowledging the great game by Winston as you have been extremely critical, some of which has been deserved but I would offer that the first game of the year was also the first game in this new offense with a rookie play caller. I am not sure it would be objective or “fair” to judge that game with the same level of expectation.

      Either way, I am thrilled that the offense and Winston is performing at a high level!

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      • Agreed, 3/4 good games is a pretty good ratio if you ask me. Barring an implosion, we definitely need to lock Jameis up long term. He does seem to be the Brady type who would be willing to work his contract to help keep talent around him but we can’t be sure of that until he actually signs a new deal.

        As for Barrett, there is a 100% chance that he needs to be locked up asap before his price tag jumps even higher!

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  15. Jones has explosive jump cuts. He skipped and zipped right through traffic on his long run(which didn’t count bc of penalty) and his touchdown.

    This offensive line set the tone for a helluva win.

    Bucs are learning how to win up front on both sides of the ball. I expect them to continue to progress and keep kicking ass!

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  16. The Bucs should extend Jamies and Shaq as soon as possible to get them at the most friendly team price as possible. After the season is over when Godwin is eligible for an extension they should do the same for him.

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  17. Barber is a decent running back who has broken through the line multiple times for runs of 7 – 12 yards.

    Who else besides me thinks Jones would have taken at least a couple of those 12 yard Barber runs to the house?

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  18. My estimate is the Bucs extend a Winston an offer based on what they see by mid season. As for Shaq he will be extended an offer at the end of the season.

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  19. Just a few comments. Yesterday was a lotta fun and it won’t take long for the Buc’s to fill up the Ray Jay playing like that. For those who are concerned about the comeback efforts of both the Giants and Rams, remember what we have been saying about learning how to win. Consistency is not taking your foot off the petal regardless of the score. I Really think BA and company are teaching this. Of all the complaints we have collectively lobbied over the past 10 years, “How to Win.” was by far the most important. Each game going forward this season will reflect the Buc’s ability to learn how to win.
    Otherwise love the two RB “Hothand,” game. Inclined to wait and see a few more games on talking Barrett, Winston contracts. As far as which came first the running game or the O-line, I’d like to think it was simultaneous and will gel consistently going forward. Finally those kids we have in our Defensive Backfield are collectively human torpedos, all we need to do is tweak their guidance systems. Like aways if you can’t say something good, THINK ABOUT IT.

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  20. Maddening season. Each week is either a total depressing low or a near ecstatic high. Latest projection from Football Outsiders has Buccaneers winning 8 games. Last week it was 5. The game at New Orleans is pivotal insofar as two road wins in the Division would set us up well and likely insure we are in the hunt after the bye week. The Saints are playing highly inspired in the absence of Brees, but simply don’t appear to be able to win a shoot out. The formula for our success has been set: stop the run; cut down on turnovers; make it a 4th quarter game. A lot of folks are criticizing the off play of the defensive secondary. We may have had only two sacks all day, but we were harassing Goff all game. He was really getting rid of the ball quickly and was hit often.

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  21. We have to wait until Nov. 10th for a home win. Thanks NFL schedule makers. Go Bucs, we have shot to be 6-2 by our next home game. We played yesterday like it was us against the world. If we come back home with winning record I expect the Raymound to be KRUNK & sold out like it 15-20 years ago. Grab your tickets now. I see something special happening in Tampa efficient QB play, a running game, & hungry defense. Hopefully the injury bug won’t bite us to hard this season. It sure would be nice to knock one of those national favorites out the playoffs. Like Cowboys &/or Packers.

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    Rating: +6. From 8 votes.
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  22. Being away from home for this long haul coming up might be a blessing. The old saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. We seem to play tight at home. Maybe it was getting used to a new system, and coaching staff, and just trying to hard. I had said all the pressure would be on us for the Giant game. We were picked to win, playing a bad team, first time start for a rookie QB etc. They came out with nothing to lose, played lose, and won. Let’s face it, we choked in that second half on both sides of the ball when the score got tight. So hopefully our Bucs embrace the road warrior roll. They’ll travel a lot, but that can be good bonding time for this young team. Maybe the NFL did us a favor. Who’s the optimist now?

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    • The good news is that we seem to play much better on the road. This team is finally learning how to finish and win games. A big part of that was the play calling, this week the foot stayed on the gas unlike the Giants game.

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