The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account, however this week Taylor Jenkins will be taking over. 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 Monday Mailbag.
Question: Do you think the Bucs would consider signing Colin Kaepernick? The Bucs have been one of the most progressive teams regarding diversity since the Glazers took over.
Answer: I’m not sure the Bucs would consider signing Colin Kaepernick, but he’s probably not the right fit right now in Tampa Bay. it’s worth noting that the Bucs organization really have been champions for diversity in the NFL, hiring three black head coaches between 1996 and 2014, drafting two black quarterbacks in the first round since 2009 and currently standing as the only franchise in the NFL with four black coordinators, including run game coordinator Harold Goodwin.
But as head coach Bruce Arians has said in the past, “If you have a competition at quarterback, you probably don’t have one.” And with that in mind, I believe the Bucs are content with Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin sitting behind Tom Brady for the time being. With Brady, much like with Jameis Winston in 2019, Arians appears ready to sink or swim with his starting quarterback.
For starters, Griffin and Gabbert were both with Tampa Bay under Arians last year and Gabbert spent time under much of the Bucs’ current regime in Arizona, something that could be invaluable for Brady as he attempts to gain familiarity with Arians’ offense despite not being afforded the luxury of OTAs and a formal mini-camp. Arians sees backup quarterbacks as an extension of the offensive coaching staff, in addition to their presence as a second option, and having two guys that are already familiar with the terminology, playbook and tendencies that Arians employs are a useful tool. Gabbert and Griffin have both been seen in attendance at Brady’s recent private workouts with the team.
The issue the Bucs have with Kaepernick is his regression as a passer, specifically in the pocket, as Arians’ offense is designed to be operated by pocket passers. Pro Football Focus issued the following overall grades and passing grades for Kaepernick in his final three seasons in the NFL:
2014: 64.5 overall grade / 66.2 passing grade
2015: 47.1 overall grade / 49.8 passing grade
2016: 47.8 overall grade / 53.8 passing grade
On top of Kaepernick’s regression as a quarterback, he has had a three-year absence from NFL competition, which further complicates the evaluation process. By comparison, Jameis Winston received a 68.4 overall grade and a 66.7 passing grade last year after throwing 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. New Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had an 80.4 overall grade and a 77.4 passing grade last year in New England.
A legitimate argument could be made that the 32-year old Kaepernick is a better QB and more experienced than Gabbert and Griffin. However he isn’t an ideal scheme fit in Arians’ system, and certainly doesn’t know the offense or have as much experience in a vertical-based passing game and the reads that are necessary for quarterbacks to make in that scheme.
Not having a regular offseason with mini-camps and OTAs this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic only hurts Kaepernick’s chances of learning a team’s playbook, becoming familiar with it on the field, and establishing a rapport and chemistry with backs, tight ends and wide receivers in the passing game – in Tampa Bay or elsewhere.
Lastly, the Bucs have just just over $4.8 million in cap space per OverTheCap.com and have yet to sign their rookie class. Kaepernick’s salary demands would likely come at a higher price tag than either of Tampa Bay’s current backups, both of who are expected to make less than $1.75 million in 2020, and the Bucs simply couldn’t afford him.
Question: How likely is it that Jamal Adams goes to the Cowboys – with Dak Prescott about to sign his franchise tender? And who could Tampa Bay offer personnel-wise to the Jets that would increase the likelihood of trading Adams to the Bucs?
Answer: I’m not completely sure about the Cowboys’ interest in Jets safety Jamal Adams or the team’s ability to trade for Adams, but as far as the Bucs are concerned, trading for Adams would be a long shot to say the least.
With Tampa Bay’s current roster laid out, they severely lack depth across the board and can’t really afford to give up impact players at any position short of tight end, and the Bucs’ seem exceedingly comfortable with that unit heading into 2020.
The most likely scenario, if the Bucs were to hypothetically make a push for Adams, would include trading either draft picks or a combination of picks and/or a seemingly expendable player like tight end O.J. Howard, but neither of those would remedy Tampa Bay’s biggest problem with the trade, cap space.
At just over $4.8 million in salary cap space with no rookies from this year’s class signed yet, as previously mentioned, acquiring Adams and reuniting him with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is nearly an impossibility for Tampa Bay, as fun as the duo would be in the Bucs’ defensive secondary. Adams has said that he not only wants to be the highest-paid safety in the NFL, which would put him at $15 million per season, but also the highest-paid defensive player in the league, which would put his salary demands north of $20 million. The Bucs simply don’t have the monetary wherewithal or cap room to pay Adams anywhere close to that.
Question: When do you expect the Bucs to start signing draft picks?
Answer: In the past, Tampa Bay has generally signed some of its rookie draft picks just before the start of mini-camp in May, while others had to wait until July just before training camp. In normal offseasons, newly-added rookies are permitted to participate in a team’s offseason program prior to a deal being signed as long as they sign a waiver, but would then have to get an official deal agreed upon before training camp begins in late July.
In 2018, Tampa Bay announced that four of their eight draft picks had been signed the week before mini-camp kicked off in early May. In 2019 it was largely the same, with the Bucs announcing that five of their eight draft picks had agreed to deals around the same time.
Now in 2020, rookies haven’t even been permitted to travel to and work out at the AdventHealth Training Center, and none have put pen to paper on their rookie contracts. So surely it won’t be too long before the Bucs begin officially signing their rookies, but expect it to come some time in early-to-mid July when players can begin congregating at team headquarters before training camp is scheduled to kick off. There is no rush right now.