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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag. Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: Should the Bucs sign wide receiver Julio Jones? Could he help replace Chris Godwin if he’s not ready to go in Week 1?

ANSWER: Pewter Report’s J.C. Allen addressed this to a degree over the weekend in a story on Julio Jones on PewterReport.com. I think there are four big issues with Jones potentially signing with the Bucs – age, injury, role and salary.

The first is his age. Jones is 33 years old and is coming off his worst season statistically. After Tennessee acquired him in a trade with Atlanta, Jones had 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown. When he was healthy, he was a good complementary receiver to A.J. Brown. The fact that he still averaged 14 yards per catch was somewhat encouraging. But Jones missed seven games due to a recurring hamstring injury.

That’s the second biggest concern. Jones has missed a total of 13 games with hamstring injuries over the past two seasons. He missed six games with the Falcons in 2020 and seven last year with the Titans. Jones hardly practiced at all last year. I asked long-time Titans reporter Terry McCormick for his assessment of Jones’ play in 2021.

Former Falcons WR Julio Jones Bucs

Former Falcons WR Julio Jones – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

“At this stage, he is probably a role player – a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver,” McCormick said. “He can still catch the ball in traffic and even make the spectacular catch. He’s not as fast anymore, so the YAC (yards after catch) might not be there. The biggest issue with Jones now is his health. His hamstring has plagued him for two years now. In a limited role, he can be effective, but I wouldn’t expect a 70-catch season from him just because of injury issues.”

At age 33 and given his stature in the league, Jones couldn’t be counted on to contribute on special teams. So, if the Bucs did sign him, it would be similar to the signing of Antonio Brown. But that means that the top four receivers on the depth chart – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Jones – wouldn’t play on special teams. When Godwin returns to the lineup, whether it’s the first week of the season or shortly thereafter, would Jones and his ego mind a diminished role? He would be WR4 in this situation.

Jones is simply not the Buc-killer he was in his 20s with the Falcons. He had one 100-yard game last year in Tennessee, and that came in Week 2 against Seattle. He didn’t score his lone touchdown of the season until Week 18 against Houston. Jones’ skills have diminished. Yet, he is a big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and has experience playing in the slot. He could help there in Godwin’s absence.

“He could do some things in the slot, as well as outside,” McCormick said. “His route running was good enough for the slot, as well as outside. For little bursts, he was very good and still explosive, but just couldn’t do it as consistently as they needed him to for the money they were paying. Titans never complained about him as a run blocker. He did okay at it, but A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook were both better at run blocking than Julio was.”

So, what is the 33-year old Jones now worth? He would be a role player in Tampa Bay and certainly not worth the $11.513 million that the Titans paid him last year. Not even close. It would have to be a contract similar to what the Bucs paid Antonio Brown – likely around $2 million for the chance to catch passes from Tom Brady and win a Super Bowl ring. Is that good enough for Jones? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of demand for him right now. He remains an option for the Bucs at wide receiver.

QUESTION: I was rooting for James Bradberry and Melvin Ingram as free agent signings to go “all in” on Tom Brady’s last year. It worked for us two years ago and worked for the Rams last year. But this year feels like we’re in, but with an eye on the future with our cap. Who else can we get to go all-in?

ANSWER: The good news is that we’re still two months away from the beginning of training camp and over three months away from the start of the season. I’ll remind you that Bucs general manager Jason Licht has made some key late additions before. In 2014, Licht claimed defensive end Jacquies Smith off waivers before Week 1 and he became an instant starter for the Bucs. He had 13.5 sacks in two seasons before a torn ACL in Week 1 ended his 2016 early and disrupted his career. He was never the same player again.

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht did the same thing in 2018 with Carl Nassib. He claimed the edge rusher off waivers from Cleveland and Nassib wound up being a part-time starter for the Bucs. He logged six sacks his first season as a defensive end, and 6.5 sacks as an outside linebacker when Todd Bowles arrived in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised if Nassib is on the Bucs’ short list at outside linebacker given his experience in the scheme.

Running back Leonard Fournette was signed before the 2020 season started and “Playoff Lenny” was instrumental in helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. That was a vital “all in” signing for the Bucs. So, there have been several instances where Licht has added players who wound up as starters right before the season started.

Tampa Bay has also added key players during the season, too. In 2015, Licht signed center Joe Hawley on Sept. 14. He would step in as the starter for the injured Evan Dietrich-Smith. Then, he was signed to a two-year contract extension to be the Bucs’ starter. Licht also traded for defensive tackle Steve McLendon when Vita Vea went down with an injury early in 2020.

And of course, the Bucs also signed wide receiver Antonio Brown in November 2020. That was another “all in” addition by Licht, evidenced by Brown’s key touchdown at Washington in the playoffs. And there was his TD catch right before halftime in Super Bowl LV.

The Bucs’ roster is not finalized for 2022 yet. And there is plenty of time for Licht to add a few more key pieces – and plenty of free agents available. Signing another edge rusher and defensive tackle seems like a must. Adding another receiver and/or a tight end also seems probable.

QUESTION: Is the fact that the Bucs are signing more tight ends again an indication that they know Rob Gronkowski is not coming back?

ANSWER: The Bucs did sign undrafted free agent tryout player J.J. Howland after the rookie mini-camp. The Yale tight end caught everything that weekend and is one of four rookie tight ends on the roster. The Bucs drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, then signed Ben Beise after the draft before adding Howland. Do these signings have anything to do with Rob Gronkowski? Of course they do. But it doesn’t mean that Gronk won’t return.

Bucs TE Cade Otton

Bucs TE Cade Otton – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Of course, the Bucs hope that Gronkowski will re-sign to Tampa Bay for a third season. But the team has to safeguard against the fact that he could retire. It’s a little perilous just riding into the season with Cameron Brate as the lone veteran. So, if Gronk does retire, I could see the Bucs signing another experienced tight end.

Brate will be 31 in July and Gronkowski just turned 33. Starting a youth movement at the tight end spot is critical right now for the future of the position. Getting a look at these young tight ends – even the undrafted free agents – in OTAs, mini-camp and training camp could help the Bucs prepare for life after Gronkowski and Brate. And they may discover a gem like they did with Brate back in 2014.

If Gronkowski does return to the Bucs, the four-deep chart will likely consist of Gronk, Brate, Otton and Kieft. If Beise and/or Howland impress more than Codey McElroy, one or both could be put on the practice squad to develop.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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SS
SS
1 month ago

Have him play the receiving TE position if Gronk chooses retirement

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

Bucs need more reinforcements on both sides of the ball.

Spitfire
Spitfire
1 month ago

I don’t understand the question about not being all in. The last 2 years they did whatever they could to bring in players without completely screwing our future, they restructured a bunch on contracts again this year to bring in who they could. The eye to the future is always there but it hasn’t hindered their picking up players. We brought in Gronk and Brown the past couple of years and Fournette who is still here that’s the biggest names aside from Suh the year before. What haven’t they done to be all in right now? They brought in Gave… Read more »

sunshineben
sunshineben
Reply to  Spitfire
1 month ago

i disagree . Bucs need a proven quality receiver and defensive line help . i also wonder who is the tight end ? The Sainta went all in ,not sure if the Bucs have yet .

Rob
Rob
Reply to  Spitfire
1 month ago

It was my question and am open to criticism but don’t think it was a “stupid” one as I definitely consider myself a pretty intelligent fan who follows all of football, not just Bucs with my blinders on. I alluded to the fact that we definitely went ALL IN the year we won the SB. Ultimately I feel like the Rams did the same thing last year (Stafford, Von Miller, OBJ to go with their other top loaded roster). The Rams this year, despite being CAP/draft constricted signed Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner (while letting Miller go) with an eye… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

Our CB group is leaky, especially with the top QB we will be facing this year

fredster
fredster
1 month ago

This is just my humble opinion and I can’t tell the future, but I think this current Bucs roster isn’t going to be good enough to win another Super Bowl with that nasty schedule. I’d like to see them go all in like the Rams did last season, So to answer your question hell yes I’d give Jones a 1 year deal for 2-3 million if he was willing. I wouldn’t say he’s washed up over hamstring issue either. He’s likely better than most 2nd or 3rd WR’s still out there when he’s healthy. That’s they key is he healthy… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by fredster
Rob
Rob
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

Couldn’t agree more Fredster (see my previous response to other commenter). Yes we’ve got a good roster, yes we’ve got the GOAT and barring some crazy unforeseen injuries-we will be in the playoffs this year for sure. BUT-is this a roster that beats the Rams? Honestly-I don’t see it as its currently set up today. SR made note that the roster isn’t complete yet which I understand but definitely count me in the camp of we need a few more legit playmakers to put us over the edge. With it being Brady’s last year, it truly is SB or Bust.… Read more »

matador
matador
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

The debate about where our last signings should be to bolster the team suggests we have too many weak spots, especially over the course of a brutal schedule and 17 game season plus postseason, to make it back to the big game. Feels like everything would have to go right. As it would have again this past year had AB not flaked on top of Godwin getting injured.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

Some of you people are ridiculous. To say this roster isn’t good enough to win a SB is asinine. If AB didn’t go nuclear, Godwin didn’t get hurt, and Wirfs didn’t get hurt, we would have been playing SF at home to go to back to back SB’s. Stop it with this “our roster isn’t good enough” , or we’re not going “all in”crap. Last year proved what most should already know. It’s mostly about injury luck. Last year we didn’t have it. So it goes. But some of you are complaining that we’re not all in, and how can… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Rob
Rob
Reply to  Dave
1 month ago

Count me in the camp that if the AB debacle didn’t happen we are probably SB champs again. And trust me when I say I’m not the doom and gloom guy, just being honest where it sits today. All I’m saying is we had studs at almost every position the last two years in our starting lineup. 2022 our offense playmakers are: Evans, Godwin (at what point in the season), Fournette at RB (with a rookie as 2nd string maybe?), and Gage. I’ll throw Gronk in there even though it’s 50/50. That’s a definite difference in the last two years… Read more »

Rob
Rob
Reply to  Rob
1 month ago

Oh and another team that I think went “all in” this year despite their cap/draft limitations is the Saints. If I had any belief in their QB/new coach I would be more bullish on them but in the offseason they signed Marcus Maye, J Landry, Honey Badger, Taco Charlton and others. I think their offense and defense got better this year with those FAs plus draft picks like Olave. I think the Bills who were one coin toss away from winning also went out and said we’re doing everything we can to win the SB. Von Miller signing, Tim Settle… Read more »

twspin
twspin
1 month ago

Please! ..How many more toys does the great Brady need? We ought to worried sick about replacing JPP and Suh on the D line. Sounds and looks easy. But these vets know how to plug in when its time to play. If Nelson And Tryon have not improved dramatically, This Defense will not be as good as it was last year. And they were about 70% overall then.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

Amen!

Dman
Dman
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

Yes and yes.

Bradley Smith
Bradley Smith
1 month ago

Jones is an injury risk and won’t be a special teams player. The team will be okay even if Godwin is sidelined for some of the season. Hopefully the running game will improve.

bucballer
bucballer
1 month ago

Why r we discussing adding another offensive weapon when we desperately need another solid D-Line player. Would feel better if they would resign Suh. The only other weapon Brady NEEDS is Gronk. Would feel a lot better having him and Brady pitch and catch it for another 6-8 TDS! I’ll finish with this thought…”Defense, Defense, and Defense!

Dman
Dman
1 month ago

Scott, what intel you getting that Godwin might be ready the first week of the season or shortly thereafter. He tore both an ACL and MCL at the end of the season. Other articles I’ve read have him back around Thanksgiving.

scubog
scubog
1 month ago

Somehow many tend to forget, or simply refuse to accept, that the team, in spite of its’ flaws and inordinate number of injuries, was 13 dash 4 in 2021. Even with an aging Suh and ineffective JPP in the lineup. I suspect there is a retooling of the Defense in the works. Maybe some guys developing behind the scenes. For some reason, folks think not enough has been done, yet the first player drafted 3 of the last 4 years has been on that side of the ball. Likewise, two free agent signings have been added to bolster the secondary… Read more »

fredster
fredster
Reply to  scubog
1 month ago

Yes 13-4 with a very easy schedule. Also Did 13-4 matter when we played the Rams in the playoffs? No I it didn’t. I also don’t agree there aren’t any players left that could help the team that we could afford. Lot guys will take a 1 year deal on the cheap for a ring as we already have seen. Standing pat with this lineup would be stupid imo. Also why does any pass rusher they get for depth have to be better than JPP in his prime? Doesn’t even make sense. We have no clue what JTS can do… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by fredster
scubog
scubog
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

There are no easy schedules in the NFL. You’re basing everything one one game lost by a mere 3 points, in the last second, against the eventual champions. After watching this team for 45 looooooong years, often being the absolute worst team, I’d say we have little to bitch about. Perfect? no, but goodness, why spend so much time agonizing over any flaw. It’s akin to having Rossie O’Donnel as your girlfriend and somehow Cindy Crawford takes a liking to you and all you can think to say is……Cindy……….about that mole.