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: I can’t find a lot of mistakes in this year’s Bucs draft. If you had to nitpick and change one decision made by the Bucs, what would it be? Zack Moss over Ke’Shawn Vaughn? Not giving up that fourth-round pick to move up one spot? Something else? Or was it a perfect draft?
Answer: While it is way too early to call it a perfect draft, as you need to give it a couple years, this group looks really solid, highlighted by what appears to be a great selection in offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. This could be the Bucs’ new version of Paul Gruber. A long-time, solid starter, that fills a void and a position Tampa Bay won’t need to worry about for the next 10 years or so. Bucs fans hope it is more of the Gruber-type pick as opposed to a Charles McRae-type of pick.
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo courtesy of Iowa
Safety Antoine Winfield Jr. also could be a plug-and-play starter for the Buccaneers. Having a father who played a long time in the league – and very successfully – gives the younger Winfield an air of confidence and maturity that few have when coming in as a rookie.
If we were to nitpick any little thing it was maybe the team not moving down a little later in the third round and recouping a fourth-round pick, before selecting Ke’Shawn Vaughn. That doesn’t mean the Bucs didn’t try, and found no one willing, but if Vaughn was their guy and they believed in him, then I don’t really even have a problem with them taking him where they did.
The seventh-round selection of linebacker Chapelle Russell also could be nitpicked somewhat, but at the end of the day if a seventh-rounder makes a team and contributes in any capacity, then it’s a huge bonus. General manager Jason Licht and his crew have done a good job of finding linebackers without using premium picks – players like Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith and Jack Cichy, so I can’t even fault them for that pick.
As stated earlier, to grade a rookie class before those new players have even set foot on the football field is just being speculative. But from appearing to have filled some needs on the roster, this draft looks extremely solid, and one that could be end up as one of Licht’s best. Ask me again in three years and we will know a lot more.
Question: What makes quarterback Reid Sinnett worth a six-figure contract? And have there been other UDFAs who have earned that much?
Answer: Clearly the Buccaneers felt San Diego quarterback Reid Sinnett had a draftable grade and gave him a guaranteed salary to rival that of a sixth-round or so draft pick. With $152,000 in guaranteed money, the Buccaneers see Sinnett as a developmental project and someone who they think can at the very least be a practice squad player in 2020. The salary guaranteed equals that of the money a practice squad players makes over a season. There is only so much money in an undrafted free agent signing bonus pool, so the way teams can get their guys is the guaranteed money.
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
As far as other undrafted free agents, who have signed for more than that, I am not sure of any. Of course if he ends up making the roster then the $152,000 turns into considerably more, as the NFL minimum salary for any first-year player is now $610,000.
Sinnett is raw, as he only started one year as a senior in high school and one year in college, but in both of those seasons be excelled, including putting up 3,528 passing yards to go along with 32 touchdowns with 10 interceptions at San Diego. Sinnett also added another six scores on the ground, proving he is a good athlete.
I don’t think the Buccaneers are expecting Sinnett to one day be Tom Brady’s successor, but in NFL terms, $152,000 is a very low risk amount to lock up a player you covet. Remember with undrafted free agents, they can negotiate with all 32 teams and the agents can play poker with teams to squeeze the most out of a negotiation.
Question: With Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate all there, do you think Antony Auclair will still be on the roster and/or get much playing time?
Answer: That is a tough one to figure out. A lot depends on how many tight ends the Buccaneers decide to keep. Last year the team went with four, so I suspect they will also do the same this season. The team loves what Antony Auclair brings to the table as a blocker and prior to the addition of Rob Gronkowski, Auclair was the best blocker among last year’s roster.
Gronkowski brings that element to his game as well, and that is somewhat overlooked by his prolific numbers he has put up over his career as a receiver with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards and 79 touchdowns. He can do it all, and do it well. However, will the Buccaneers put him on a pitch count and do they want to risk more injury and wear and tear using him as a blocker in the run game? My guess is no, but there will be times when he is asked to chip an end or block a blitzing linebacker on occasion.
The good news, is, he is excellent at blocking and you can see how good he can be in this film breakdown by former NFL player and current Fox NFL commentator Brian Baldinger.
Question: Jameis Winston’s new contract must be a huge blow to his ego. Do you think he makes it in the NFL? If he had stayed with the Bucs, how much would they have paid him as a backup?
Answer: When the season ended had you asked Jameis Winston where he would be five months later, I don’t think he – or anyone else – would have guessed it would be as a backup for a $1.1 million base salary with New Orleans. I won’t say it was a blow to his ego, but certainly a humbling experience for Winston and his camp.
I still believe Winston will have success in the NFL. He is extremely talented, as evidenced by the numerous NFL and team marks he established in his first five seasons in the NFL. Players just don’t accidentally throw for over 5,000 yards. We all know the key to how successful he will be comes down to how many of his turnovers he can eliminate moving forward.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
As far as being a backup here in Tampa Bay, that was just never going to happen. The Buccaneers had no desire to keep Winston once the decision to sign Tom Brady was made. There would be no good to come from it honestly. Winston wants to find a home where he is the future and could have a fresh start. And the Bucs didn’t want the distraction of having him on the bench.
Say if Brady has a two-game losing streak where he posted mediocre numbers and Winston was the backup, now the Winston supporters and fans in the stands, on radio call-in shows and maybe even some in the locker room start calling for Winston to get a shot to start. It could be a nightmare from a team chemistry standpoint.
The Bucs and Winston went through a divorce. You can’t keep your new wife and ex-wife in the same house. Nothing good was going to come from that. The team turned the page and time will tell if they made the right decision.
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, the beach and family time.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]
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