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: Before the draft, inside linebacker was our weakest position. With how Jack Cichy, Kevin Minter, Devante Bond and Deone Bucannon are playing, does that add strong depth behind Devin White and Lavonte David?
Answer: Like running back, linebacker was one of those positions that when looking at the roster just months ago, one wondered what this team was going to do to address it. Now, here we are in August, and what was thought to be a need position, looks like a strength. In fact, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles told Ronde Barber on News Channel 8 in an interview on Sunday night that the inside linebacker position was the position he felt was the most solid and talented on the defense.
And I really have to tip my cap to Devante Bond. When the Buccaneers re-signed him last March, it barely registered more than a blip on my radar. In fact, I may have out loud asked, “Why?” when I saw the press release. Yet here we are a few months later and Bond, who can play both inside and outside linebacker and had a sack against Miami, looks to be a pretty good lock to make the 53-man roster due to his versatility and value as a special teams star.
Question: Wide receiver Justin Watson has had a poor preseason. Do you think he misses the cutdown?
Answer: I think he needs a good showing over the last two weeks to lock up a roster spot. He hasn’t had the best preseason, although he has looked solid in practices. But so far through two games he hasn’t really stood out. It is safe to assume Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman are wide receivers No. 1-3, and Watson came into camp with the No. 4 spot with his name on it. But honestly, no one has stood out once you get past the first three receivers, including Watson, who has had some drops in the first two games. While they were contested catches, making there tough grabs in traffic, particularly in the red zone, is the way to solidify a roster spot. And Watson just hasn’t done that yet.
Tampa Bay is hoping someone steps up over the next couple weeks, whether it be Watson, Bobo Wilson, Scotty Miller or even the newest receiver brought into camp, Emanuel Hall. And head coach Bruce Arians also said there are 31 other teams that have players that could end up being cut that might make this football team. The fourth and fifth players on the depth chart – at receiver or really any position – that makes this team’s opening day roster, might not even be a Buccaneer right now.
Question: What does Jameis Winston have to do this season in order to become the highest paid QB in the league and earn a long-term contract extension from the Bucs?
Answer: It is really simple – win football games. For all of the turnover elimination and improved decision-making talk, at the end of the day, the Buccaneers need to win more football games with Winston under center. We can debate why Winston hasn’t won as many games as he and the team would have liked, but the number one thing quarterbacks are judged on is wins and losses. And Tampa Bay hasn’t won enough football games with Winston, who is 21-33 as a starter in his four years with the Bucs.
As far as being the highest-paid QB in the league, even if Winston has a breakout year, I don’t know that I see him getting more than the $34 million per year average Russell Wilson is currently getting. One strong year versus a really good career that includes a Lombardi Trophy like Wilson has, doesn’t justify becoming the league’s highest-paid quarterback, despite the direction salaries have headed.
Question: How long will it take for rookie cornerback Jamel Dean to make his way into the starting lineup?
Answer: If you had asked me this two weeks ago, I would have said he would probably be ready in 2020. But after returning from a hip flexor injury that cost him some training camp practice time and the first preseason game at Pittsburgh, the proverbial light seems to have come on for the former Auburn standout. The front office and coaching staff loves what Dean, who is a third-round draft pick, can bring to the team, particularly with his speed and size. We saw some of that last Friday night against the Dolphins when he had two pass breakups and a key end zone interception.
Dean is a little behind in the race to challenge either Vernon Hargreaves III or Carlton Davis for a starting role, but is quickly making up time from what we have been told privately. In fact, he’s ahead of second-round pick Sean Murphy-Bunting, who had a great offseason and start to training camp, but may have lost some confidence from his poor debut in Pittsburgh where he had a penalty on special teams, a pass interference call and gave up a touchdown in pass coverage.