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 would Phillip Rivers bring to the Bucs? What would Andy Dalton bring to the Bucs? Who would you rather have? Jamies Winston, Rivers or Dalton?
Answer: Philip Rivers would bring experience – lots of it – and not throwing 30 interceptions – perhaps. Rivers is the sixth-leading passer in league history with 59,271 yards, 397 touchdowns and 198 interceptions in his 16-year NFL career. However, no one can predict if Jameis Winston would throw 30 in his second year with Bruce Arians or cut that number down to say 15 or 20. And who is to say Rivers wouldn’t throw more than 20 in 2020 in Tampa Bay?
History suggests, at least in the case of Winston and Carson Palmer, that the first year in an Arians offense, the interception numbers are pretty high. So if Rivers, who had 20 in 2019 for the Chargers could theoretically surpass that, I can’t see how Rivers would be an upgrade. A 38-year old quarterback, who might have two years left, is a better alternative to a 26-year old, more mobile quarterback than Winston? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Andy Dalton is another head-scratcher as well. There hasn’t been any direct links to Dalton and the Bucs, so like most of the scenarios we are playing out, it is just speculation right now. While he has had moderate success, Dalton finished last season as the quarterback of the NFL’s worst team and was benched after an 0-8 start. Dalton’s numbers weren’t very good, as he threw for just 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing less than 60 percent of his passes.
How is he an upgrade over Winston? Would Dalton throw 30 interceptions in 2020 for Tampa Bay? Most likely not, but I also don’t believe Winston would either.
If the Bucs do choose to walk away from Winston, in my mind there is only one guy to consider to replace him, and that of course, is Tom Brady. Raymond James Stadium would be full, the Bucs would be on the national radar again for the first time in a while, and honestly, as a reporter, it would be a blast covering the greatest quarterback of all time.
But the problem is, even if Brady does choose to leave New England, the Bucs won’t be the only suitors or the top priority, as Las Vegas, Tennessee and Indianapolis would be more desirable locations for the 42-year old legend. And Tampa Bay could be left with a guy like Teddy Bridgewater, who may not make as many plays as Winston, but also not turning it over as much, or giving up draft picks to trade for someone else or to move up in the draft. Bucs general manager Jason Licht indicated he would be against drafting and starting a rookie quarterback in 2020.
Question: Hearing that Matthew Stafford is not available, meaning he probably is! Would Bruce Arians and Jason Licht be interested? What would fair compensation be?
Answer: When looking at Matthew Stafford from a just statistical view, of course Arians and Licht would be foolish to not be interested. And if it were strictly a decision that could be made on stats alone, Bucs fans should be overjoyed to have a player with Stafford’s resumé under center. Stafford reached the 40,000 yard mark the fastest of any player in NFL history. He also is one of the “magical eight” quarterbacks we talk about who has thrown for over 5,000 yards in a season. He is gunslinger, fairly mobile and from all accounts a solid leader.
However, Stafford also suffered a significant injury in 2019, a non-displaced fractures in his upper thoracic spine, and missed the last eight games of the year. Basically a broken back. As someone who currently suffers from a compression fracture of the back, just getting out of bed some mornings is a chore. Obviously I am far from a world-class athlete, but we are talking about the spine which is essentially the highway to the entire body.
I have no idea of Stafford’s recovery, but if it were considered career-threatening, then most likely we would have seen reports suggesting that is the case. So Stafford is planning on playing somewhere in 2020 it appears, and if the Bucs were 100 percent sure it is healed and the reoccurrence risk is very low, then dealing for Stafford, if he came on the market, would be something to explore.
Bucs outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul came back from a broken neck and played extremely well and at a high level. The difference is, Pierre-Paul plays a position that teams presumably have some depth or a backup plan and if he hadn’t been able to return, the Bucs had some decent bodies to fill the role. And Pierre-Paul was also already under contract, so it isn’t like Tampa Bay traded a ransom for him while he as recovering.
In the case of Stafford, if a team trades for him, it most likely comes with at least a No. 1 draft pick plus other compensation and teams are saying you believe he can stay healthy. That might be a pretty big gamble. But if he is healthy he may be a better option than even Brady as far a fit with the Bucs’ scheme.
Question: Free agent offensive tackle Jack Conklin, yay or nay?
Answer: In a salary cap-free world, it is an easy yay, as Conklin, a former first-rounder, is a dominant right tackle. But that isn’t the case, so I would say nay. The main reason being he plays right tackle – not left – and this draft class is loaded with offensive line prospects that Tampa Bay could draft, and would cost a quarter of what Conklin would command salary-wise. Last year’s No. 14 pick, offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom, counted just $3.3 million against the cap, where as Conklin is likely to get a deal over $14 million a season.
How much better would Conklin be over a first- or second-round rookie right tackle? Probably better in 2020, as there is a learning curve for every rookie offensive tackle, but $8 million per year better? I wouldn’t do it – at least not for a right tackle. I am not saying the position isn’t important, but if anyone thinks the Bucs missed the playoffs last year because of the play of right tackle Demar Dotson, they are a little crazy.
And the plan almost has to be that the tackle Tampa Bay drafts, if in the first round, eventually ends up succeeding Donovan Smith, who is in the final year of the guaranteed portion of the contract he signed last offseason. Most teams aren’t drafting right tackles in the Top 15 without the intention of moving them to the left side at some point.
Question: Do you see a scenario where the Bucs take a blue chip WR that falls to 14, like Henry Ruggs?
Answer: No chance. Not with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the roster and still in their prime. And not with the depth of this wide receiver class that some are saying is the best in the last two decades. Players that might have been later first- or second-round selections in years past will be found in the third and perhaps even the fourth round. Third-round guys last year are likely late fourth-round or even fifth-rounders in 2020, and so on because of the sheer depth at the position.
Add in the fact Bruce Arians raved about this year’s class last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, and tells me that, while the Bucs most likely add a receiver, it will come on Day 3. The third wide receiver in the Bucs offense can easily be found later in the draft, and I would be shocked to see the Buccaneers take a wide receiver before Day 3.
Tampa Bay would still love to see Breshad Perriman back in red and pewter in 2020 and will make an attempt to re-sign him, but won’t break the bank to do so. Partly due to the fact that this class is very deep and the pecking order of the weapons in Arians’ offense.