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: Do we see a tight end moved before the season starts?

Answer: I really think it is doubtful. I suspect if the Buccaneers had a desire to move a tight end, it would have happened prior to the draft or in the Rob Gronkowksi deal with the Patriots. What would be the benefit of trading a tight end now or before the start of the season? Unless it would be a player-for-player deal that included a starter that the Buccaneers could plug-and-play right now, I don’t think there is any reason to trade a tight end for what most likely would just be a future draft pick.

Bucs TE O.J Howard
Bucs TE O.J Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and even Antony Auclair have all had some injury issues over the years. It is a tough position to stay healthy at for 16 games. Bucs fans constantly scream about a lack of depth, and now the Bucs have the deepest tight end group in the NFL by far. I think the Buccaneers know Gronkowksi is just a wrong hit away from being done, and they also would like to see Howard in his second year in the system.

So getting rid of any of their tight ends seems highly unlikely.

Question: Will the Buccaneers have a 1,000 rusher this season?

Answer: If I had to bet, I would say no, but I do believe their rushing attack will be considerably better in 2020 than it was last year. The Buccaneers only averaged 3.7 yards per run in 2019, and that should improve. First with a commitment to more of a run-pass balance by the staff, secondly with more experience in the scheme from the offensive line and Ronald Jones, and third, Ke’Shawn Vaughn hopefully being an upgrade over Peyton Barber.

With less turnovers from the quarterback position, and hopefully a defense that plays more like the one we saw over the last six games of the year, the Buccaneers should be able to run the ball more effectively. Meaning they shouldn’t be playing catch up.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

If the Buccaneers do have a 1,000 yard rusher in 2020, my money is on Jones over the rookie Vaughn. But I can also see the team running somewhat of a platoon system like they did last year. If that is the case again then we might not see a 1,000 rusher, but most likely a running back committee that can average more than four yards per carry. Even if the Bucs only run 409 times like they did in 2019, but average 4.5 yards per carry, they move nearly into the Top 10 in rushing as a team.

Arians loves to throw the ball, that isn’t going to change. And when a team has two Pro Bowl receivers who averaged over 15 yards a catch last year, why would they try and force the team to be a running team? They won’t. And shouldn’t. The Chiefs won the Super Bowl rushing for just 49 more total yards than the Bucs. And the Raiders, Browns and Jaguars were all considerably better at running the football last year than Tampa Bay, and where did it get them? A seat on the couch next to the Bucs, watching the postseason.

Question: Someone inevitably gets injured during the football season. Which player can the Bucs least afford to lose for a long period of time?

Answer: The obvious and easy answer is quarterback Tom Brady. If he gets injured for any significant time, the season is done. But that is too simple, so let’s look at a few others. Picking just one is too difficult so I will list one offensively and one on defense.

Offensively I would say losing center Ryan Jensen would be tough. The Bucs could always flip Ali Marpet back to center and go with Joe Haeg at guard, but it would be a complete disruption of any sort of continuity.

Bucs C Ryan Jensen
Bucs C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Ideally, the Bucs would prefer to have someone who could just come in and fill Jensen’s spot, but who is that player? As of now, Anthony Fabiano and Zach Shackelford are the only two players listed behind Jensen at center. However, neither have any NFL experience, so what the team would do if Jensen went down is still a big question mark.

Defensively, there are more issues with depth in my opinion, particularly at the OLB spot. Losing Carl Nassib hurt this offseason, so if Jason Pierre-Paul or Shaq Barrett were to miss any significant time, that would leave the Bucs counting on Anthony Nelson for significant playing time. And maybe he elevates his game and becomes more of an impact player in his second season, but it’s a big question mark. Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard broke down Nelson’s game and based on his evaluation, there could be cause for concern if he were forced into significant snaps.

Cornerback depth is still somewhat of an issue, too. Losing Jamel Dean or Carlton Davis would create major headaches for the Bucs coaching staff. I think you could hide the loss of Sean Murphy-Bunting a little easier, but not Dean or Davis. Especially in a division with such good quarterback and receiver play.

With all of that said, this team isn’t done re-tooling and adjusting their roster. There will be unknown players emerging and some players regressing. Super Bowl winning teams aren’t always just the most talented team, a lot of luck is involved, especially on the injury front.

Question: What is the Bucs current cap situation after the draft before we sign the picks?

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg
Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: The teams sits around $5 million right now. They will need a good chunk of that to sign their rookie class and will also need some cap space in reserve for the season to possibly add players if they get hammered with injuries.

I don’t expect any major roster shakeups to clear cap space, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some deals re-worked to free up some money. In fact they almost have to. I can’t say who the players might be, but the Bucs front office and their cap guru Mike Greenberg do a masterful job of keeping the Buccaneers out of salary cap issues and routinely have the least amount of dead cap money year after year.

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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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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BigSombrero
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BigSombrero

Great mailbag this week. I fully agree that the TE room is filled with guys who have had injuries in the past, hence the importance of keeping all of them, but when have the Bucs done things that make logical sense? Expect a trade. I fully agree that no one will rush for 1000 yards. RoJo hit his first 100 yard game in week 17. Dare will be #2 on the depth chart. Vaughn has small hands and is slow. He will struggle to see the field. Injuries that kill the season? Mike Evans on offense. Any of these guys… Read more »

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

Ok, where to start?! Lol. TE I completely agree with you, but the Bucs having no logic in anything they do, is an awful, and illogical take. Vaughn will definetely be the #2, but I agree the Bucs wont have a 1000 yard rusher. Dare is trash! C’mon guy lol! David and White have a very good backup in Minter, and Davis and Dean going down, would have Bunting slide outside while Winfield, or whichever DB the Bucs like, cover the slot. Evans would be tough to replace, but we would have enough proven weapons to survive. You said yourself,… Read more »

FLBoy84
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FLBoy84

So we have the deepest TE group in the league, at likely the least important position for depth, in an offense where the TE is not a featured position. Awesome. Much rather have that depth at OL or DL, but that’s just me. 😉 So tired of hearing about the “least dead money” award every year at this point too. That approach has meant nothing in the W-L columns. How about we prioritize WINNING instead after 12 straight non-playoff seasons, the second longest streak in the league. NO has 7 playoff appearances during our 12-year drought btw. Would much rather… Read more »

BigSombrero
Member
BigSombrero

Every other team in the division has gone to a superbowl in the 12 years that we’ve missed the playoffs. Good point about BA not really featuring TE. Many of us thought he would adapt to the talent last year, but it was the worst statistical year for the TE room in a long time. Maybe adding Brady and Gronk will change things. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

bucballer
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bucballer

Doesn’t it have too? I mean I don’t think Gronk unretired to reunite with Brady on the Bucs only to see that the Bucs offense will not require Brady to throw him the ball! Brady will throw the ball to Gronk… they r one of the great QB/TE combinations! Lastly, I think contrary to what skeptics and naysayers say about Brady and his ability to still go deep, I say not only will Brady go deep with the Bucs, he will do so at a greater rate than these past few seasons because he WANTS to! I think the lack… Read more »

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

I dont disagree with either one of you FLBoy and BS. New Orleans seems like they never care how the cap turns out because they’re going to win anyway lol. The amazing capologist Greenberg has been our MVP since he came to the franchise. Sad to say, but that’s all we’ve had to look forward to for a few years. Hoping this year is different and Brady and Gronk can change it. New Orleans uses a different draft strategy also, trading up all the time, for what they view as elite players, or elite developmental prospects. Giving up all the… Read more »

gcolerick
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gcolerick

Tight end play will be much more prevalent this year because Brady will want that as part of the game plan. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FLBoy84
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FLBoy84

Agree the TE spot will likely see a small uptick with Brady under center. However, having 3 TE’s that are capable of being #1’s on most rosters league-wide, while only having 1 legit backup across the entire OL, isn’t really the best use of resources or the ideal way to construct a roster. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Spitfire
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Spitfire

In the end, ultimately, what is the difference? They won a SB years ago just like us, and they compete for one more often than us but in the end, they are at home watching the SB from their couch just like the Bucs are every year. Now granted I’d rather be watching us come close, blowing the cap May buy you some good years but it will lead you to more than just a few bad. Some teams will spend a decade trying to dig their way out just like we have been since the Gruden years. We have… Read more »

FLBoy84
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FLBoy84

You mean dire straights like in going 12 straight years without a playoff game dire straights? Look, in regular life I’m all about living within your means and managing money correctly. This is sports (aka entertainment) however, and personally I’m much more interested in watching my team win and compete for championships regularly than what their bottom line looks like at the end of the year. Maybe we should just start handing out participation trophies to every team at the end of the season instead… Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

Spitfire, short answer on the Saints, is they won’t be in dire straights. They have a team built for long term success right now. The Brees replacement will be key, but they have a top notch front office, and a fantastic draft record. Payton is great at developing NFL talent. Even the developmental defensive end they traded up to get, Marcus Davenport, is showing signs of promise. They cant miss, and it pisses me off lol. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

ScottC543
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ScottC543

What you guys seem to be ignoring here is the other teams you’re talking about have elite QBs. Sure, you can win the SB without an elite QB, but having one can erase plenty of other team shortcomings. In the years since we won we just haven’t had the QB play to overcome our other deficiencies. Till now. Yeah the Brees replacement will be key for N.O. LOL If they find another Drew Brees they’re all set. Good luck to them with that…. Brees’es don’t grow on trees’es. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

LOL Who’s ignoring what ScootC? Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

Accidental hit of the post comment button lol… QBs do grow on trees bub. Rivers with a new team, Brady on our Bucs, the Red Rifle Andy Dalton, who at best is a league average starter, couldnt find a starting job. Hell, a former MVP who says he’s now healthy is still a free agent, without even a contract offer! I couldnt disagree more with your take. It makes me feel like you dont watch the games or pay attention to the offseason AT ALL. You’re telling me, that the best team at developing NFL talent can’t find a QB,… Read more »

Buccorona
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Buccorona

That TE depth will help the O-line, the running game and the passing game – a lot. Great to have. Too bad we won’t be able to see it in person. Just got those great season tickets and it looks like we’ll all have to watch from home. Need that vaccine! Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

twspin
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twspin

Straght to the point here..No chaser..You guys had better hold on to your..Prayer beads real tight and hope brady does not miss anything more than a game or 2. Even money says gabbert is far worse than Jameis was. And you guys know its the truth. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Spitfire
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Spitfire

Yes, we all know Gabbert is worse than Winston, that’s why he wasn’t the starter last year. Yes, if Brady goes down then there is a 90% chance our chances are out the window. As is the situation with 90% of teams. Gone are the days of having a solid backup that is familiar with the system because as soon as they prove worthy, they get a starting gig offer immediately. I really wish the new CBA would have gone a little further, like the NBAs, allowing Vet players to count less against the cap along with players that stay… Read more »

bucballer
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bucballer

You already have him hurt and possibly for a couple of games! The Bucs r aware of the age of their $50 million dollar QB. They know there r no guarantees. They r rolling the dice in hopes good things happen as the GOAT runs this Buccaneer offense and just continues to do what he has been doing for 20 years. Should a significant season ending injury happen to Brady then the Buc will exhaust all measures to trade, sign an unsigned free agent, or do what ever they can due to get the best QB that is available to… Read more »

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

Good God man, can you give the Brady is going to get hurt thing a rest? You have your favorite song on repeat in your house all day dont you? Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FireLichtMovement
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FireLichtMovement

If any TE gets moved it will be Brate. I hope he doesn’t, for depth purposes, but I could see it happening if the Buc wanted a proven starter elsewhere, or needed the money for signing the draft picks and/or in-season pickups. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

My thoughts on some of these questions: – I agree that we aren’t likely to move one of our TEs. But man, I sure wish we’d try to unload Brate. Just his cap relief would be a net positive. Sure, if BOTH guys ahead of him go down, we’ll be thrilled to have him. But you can’t think that way when it comes to cap management. We have far and away the most expensive #3 TE in football. Yea, Brate is still a good player, but that’s a bad distinction to have IMO. Especially in an offense that, in its… Read more »

FLBoy84
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FLBoy84

Agreed tf17. Crazy that some want to keep Brate just “in case” Gronk and OJ go down, yet seem fine with having Seaton, Bailey, etc. step in if we lose more than one OL to injury, not to mention DL or OLB. Starting the season as the roster stands now would be a scary proposition imo, luckily we still have 4 months until games matter to makes the moves necessary to change that. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

I’m just worried that Licht and co. are more or less satisfied with what we have right now. Like, maybe, despite his poor work on film, they’re just inexplicably confident in Anthony Nelson as that main situational and primary depth edge rusher next year. From things Licht and some others have said, it sounds to me as if we’re very comfortable with our depth right now. I hope that’s not really the case, but I have major doubts right now. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

FLBoy84
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FLBoy84

You’re likely right and no moves will be made, but I’m still hopeful BA and the FO are smarter than that. If not, they deserve whatever result their inaction brings… Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

toofamiliar17
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toofamiliar17

That’s fair, but we fans sure as hell don’t! haha Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

BUC-ASS-BOB
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BUC-ASS-BOB

TE depth is not as important as finding one more O lineman, adding Wirths was great move Bucs now only one lineman away from having a top NFL O Line, Problem most team value there top O lineman more than a TE. However a injury to there only good TE give them reason to trade. OJ and Cameron are not great blocking Tight ends like Gronkowski, which makes them less valuable in trade. Bucs might be stuck with them. What most non Patriot fans do not know is how good Gronkowski was at blocking which makes him even more valuable… Read more »

surferdudes
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Mark, must have slipped your mind, but Marpet can play center also. Did it for a whole season. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Dman
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Dman

No changes to TE’s room makes no sense with 3 starters and $20m in cap space. Gronk will get hurt. But why is it a problem to rely on EITHER Brate or Howard with Auclair as the backup? Pro Bowl G Larry Warford is out there and wants $7m. He’s 29, an immediate starter and upgrades the depth and talent on the OL. How does that NOT make sense. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...

Dman
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Dman

This offense is not designed for a 1,000 yard rusher. By platooning the RB’s none of our RB’s are able to get into any rhythm. And with the pass heavy offense, when we do call a run we’re not surprising anyone. Upgrade the O line, change the play calling and let one guy get the majority of carries. That’ll give one of these guys a shot. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please wait...