Free agency is just around the corner – beginning on Tuesday at 4 p.m.– but the Bucs are getting an early jump by meeting with a pass rusher that was let go earlier this week that may satisfy their desire for a consistent edge rusher, something missing since the days when Simeon Rice roamed the field at Raymond James Stadium.
Eagles linebacker Trent Cole is visiting Tampa Bay according to Adam Caplan of ESPN, and could help boost a pass rush that was very inconsistent in 2014. Cole, who was a salary cap casualty in Philadelphia, was a fifth-round selection in the 2005 NFL draft by the Eagles, signed a four-year, $53 million contract extension with $14.5 million guaranteed in March 2012. Eagles coach Chip Kelly mentioned upon Cole’s release that the Eagles would like to have him back, but it appears Cole will explore the free agency opportunity.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht is very familiar with Cole, as he was part of the Eagles organization that drafted the high-motor former Cincinnati Bearcat in 2005. Cole has managed to record double-digit sack totals in four of his 10 NFL seasons, including a pair of 12.5 efforts (2007, 2009). Cole, who has 85.5 career sacks, ranks second all time in Eagles history, just behind the late great Reggie White.
The Buccaneers are desperate for and edge pass rusher after 2014 free agent Michael Johnson was a disappointment, notching just 4 sacks last season for Tampa Bay. The organization was pleasantly surprised with the play of September 10 signee Jacquies Smith who came out of virtually nowhere to finish second on the team behind Gerald McCoy with 6.5 sacks. Pairing Smith and Cole together on the outside, with McCoy and Clinton McDonald on the inside, would give the Bucs their most formidable line in years. Tampa Bay finished the 2014 season with 36 sacks, tied for 21st in the NFL.
As PewterReport.com has noted, the Buccaneers will be active in free agency in 2015, but will look for more value players and salary cap victims. Tampa Bay is still debating what to do with Johnson who signed a five-year, $43 million dollar contract with the Buccaneers last spring. The Bucs would take a $7 million cap hit by releasing Johnson, but sources have told PewterReport.com the team isn’t afraid to cut bait and move on from underperforming players. Adding Cole could help answer that question for Licht and head coach Lovie Smith.
The Bucs know that they can’t fix every roster hole in free agency, but will look to patch things up over the next few weeks, then add additional help in the upcoming draft. Getting Cole, who is known for his leadership and obvious production, could be a fix to one of the team’s needs.
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]
At 33 I don’t believe he is a three down player, definitely not a starter. Let’s not start building the over the hill gang where our team melts down in October. I hope we have learned something over the years that without a indoor practice facility it makes for a long season in the heat.
I like the idea of adding Cole at the right price. He is still a good pass rusher, but nearing the end of a great career. This is one of those situations where the Bucs should definitely not over pay.
Do we know if Michael Johnson’s injuries affected his play? Last year taught us a lesson in pulling the trigger too quick, ie, Zuttah. Cole could replace Johnson even though Johnson still has guaranteed money. This is possible because there is no off-set language in his contract. If we cut Johnson, he is sure to catch on with another team, most likely the Bengals. The Bucs are only on the hook for any difference between the old and new contract – still less than the out of pocket if he sat out the year and that’s not going to happen.
If we believe Johnson can play up to his contract, we should keep him or if we think he is worth a lesser amount, then offer to restructure his contract for the perceived fair value. If he refuses, then point him north and give him a shove from the south.
Bottom line – don’t be so quick to shoot people unless you know for sure they have no value, and for god’s sake don’t over pay anybody!
I’d think that Tampa would be a great fit for trent cole. Would Tampa keep him if he would be willing to take a pay cut. Remember buc fans Tampa wants to go back to the playoffs and so does the fans. If Johnson does has that money that he will get regardless if he is cut or not, so why not ask him to take a small pay cut to let him get ready for another year under Lovie Smith. Johnson and Cole would be very Interesting and thats means we would not have to get the DE from draft. If Tampa gets the qb they want how about back to back for the offensive line through the draft. go bucs. then with keeping Johnson and adding Cole then we don’t have to spend all that money on SUH! Go Bucs again.
I’d made a mistakes would Tampa keep Johnson for a pay cut not Trent Cole!
Too Old! Waste of time and money as he isn’t the final piece of our puzzle.
I think Cole is just the right type player we should be looking to bring in this offseason at DE at the right price. However, we should be brining him in as an addition to M. Johnson, not to replace him. Johnson hasn’t had 11 sacks since 2012 but Cole hasn’t had 11 sacks since 2011. In fact, Cole hasn’t had more than 8 since then. Also, Cole is like 5 years older than Johnson. Cole should be brought in to provide competition and veteran leadership. I love the idea of a 3 way completion for 2 starting DE spots. We like to rotate our D-linemen anyway (even McCoy comes off the field) so we need at least 3 DE’s that have the potential to create pressure. If we cut Johnson we still have to spend a significant draft pick on a DE to create the 3 man rotation at DE.
Pinkstob, this might be the 1st time I agree with you, but you are on point here. Let Johnson,Cole, and Smith battle it out and rotate them to keep them fresh. We won’t be able to address all our needs in this draft, so this can postponed a young pass rusher to next years draft.
Cole could be a good pass rusher that we need NOW. Yes the draft is our future but Nobody else we get in the draft will be ready to do much immediately. No rookie pass rushers have much impact first year.dont know about the rest of you here but I’m ready to compete and win now not in few more years!!!!Would have to not overpay though which may be difficult.
I like Cole too, but ONLY at the right price. I think he will command too much money in this free agent class. Also, only like him to supplement Johnson and Smith, as some have already stated. He would be great in a rotation with our two current players, that way, if Johnson falters again, we can just sub him in as needed for the other two. I think we should give Johnson one more year to prove that last year was injury related. Only way I say let him go is if his attitude is bad and he no longer wants to stay here. He seemed to be excited when he first got here to prove himself in Lovie’s D, let’s hope he still has the drive.
Picking up cole only makes sense if we are planning on keeping Johnson. We need a few DEs who can go and while one is gettin a blow,the other can be bringin the heat.The Giants had success with having a stable of pass rushers who could keep constant pressure on opponents ,and depth allows you to have a fresh set of legs in on most downs…
Cole could provide guidance to young defensive players- especially if Tampa is looking to add to the pass rush in the draft…just don’t overpay or it doesn’t make sense…
Like everyone else has stated this move should not be tied to a Johnson release. It should be to add depth, create a rotation and used to spell Johnson so that both can stay fresh. One day we will stop the plug one hole by creating another mentality.
Agreed, for the right price Cole would be a great addition for competition/rotation between 3 DEs. Use the draft to address OL and grab a DE next year
I don’t see 33yr old Cole as any better of an option vs 1st round pick A. Clayborn. johnson has no reason to take a pay cut- it’s all guaranteed. trading him would be better than releasing him. He has talent- needs another year to prove himself. 6’7 edge rushers with 4.7 speed aren’t common. I’d like to see DE Johnson, DE Clayborn, DE Smith, DT/DE Gholston, and DE T. Cole next year with DT’s McCoy, McDonald, and Akeem Spence (who is one of my favorite bucs- highly under rated player). That would give us a great Dline rotation
I had the same thoughts Deeznuts.
This is George Hicks again. What is the chance that Trent Cole would sign with Tampa within the next 8 days! and what are the backups plans.Go Bucs
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