Sikkema’s Story of the Week

All right, I’ll just say it: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the best free agency periods in the entire NFL relative to what they needed to do.

Now that we’ve gotten that bomb out of the way, let’s dissect it.

I was one of the people criticizing the Buccaneers during the time period of players hitting the trade market as it seemed general manager Jason Licht was sitting on his hands. I had a sour taste in my mouth from the organization deciding to bring back every single decision-maker and coach (minus defensive line Jay Hayes, eventually) from a highly disappointing 5-11 campaign where I knew the philosophy of this team was to build through the draft and not risk as much immediate help for bigger name players and higher risk changes.

I watched as cornerback Marcus Peters went from Kansas City to the Los Angeles Rams while the 32nd, dead-last pass defense in the NFL (Tampa Bay) just watched the transaction go by. I watched as Robert Quinn, a player who three years ago had just come off back-to-back-to-back double-digit sacks seasons, moved from Los Angeles to the Miami Dolphins for just a mid-round pick while the 32nd, dead-last sack team in the NFL (the Buccaneers) let him get away, failing to out-bid a low price. I watched as Michael Bennett, a player who not only was a familiar face for Tampa Bay, but one that the Bucs’ own players were even campaigning for the organization to go out and get was moved for nothing more than a fifth-round pick and some loose change to a team that just went to the Super Bowl.

I rolled my eyes as each of those opportunities came and went, knowing how much the Bucs roster needed to improve, and in two of those cases, Tampa Bay even bid on the players for trade (Quinn and Bennett) but ultimately didn’t end up with them. We were told that the Bucs have a value on every player in the NFL, both in trade and in salary compensation. The Bucs likely offered what they believed both of those players were worth, but were just outbid. To me, that just screamed like a team that settled for its plan instead of a move outside the box that needed to be made – and a team that ultimately missed. I thought the Bucs were doomed to begin to rebuild if they couldn’t drastically improve out of nowhere.

What was Licht doing? I mean, did anyone tell him that 2018 is a make-or-break year for him? That it was a make-or-break year for all of them? All we heard all year was “our guys are our guys” or “the cavalry isn’t coming” when referencing the poor play of the existing starters. This was the time! This was the time to get that cavalry, to get those new guys. They had the fourth-highest cap space in all of football and winning, established teams were instead the ones picking these players up and restructuring their deals as they flirted with the cap floor coming off successful seasons. It shouldn’t have been them; it should have been Tampa Bay.

At least, that’s what I thought. I had the itch for aggressiveness in acquisitions and turned it into blame – perhaps too much, but not unwarranted in its entirety.

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

It was right around that time that the first domino of free agency fell for the Buccaneers. On March 9, wide receiver Mike Evans signed high five-year, $82 million dollar deal that made him the highest paid player in the NFL in terms of total money, but not in terms of average per year, which was key. Earlier in the offseason we were told that Evans and his camp were in no hurry to sign a new deal, as Evans’ deal wouldn’t be up until next year anyways and the amount that star players are paid in the league goes up every year.

Instead of letting it play out and allowing Evans and his agent to see a player like Odell Beckham Jr. sign a mega-deal for a wide receiver, which will be happening soon, they decided to craft a deal that enticed Evans to sign early with a high amount of guaranteed money, but one that wouldn’t kill them against the cap.

That, in and of itself, was a free agency win before the new year even opened. The Bucs locked up one of their top guys, and did so in a way that benefited them the most. It was because of the way that deal was done, and in the timing in which it was done, that will give the Buccaneers the luxury to be more aggressive in the future with an already established roster piece in place.

That future didn’t take too long to see the benefits from, as the next piece of the offseason was extending tight end Cameron Brate. If you recall, Brate led the NFL in touchdowns for a tight end in 2016 with eight when he was the only one running the show. He wasn’t at the top of the tight end list in 2017, but that can be rooted in the fact that the team also gave looks to their first-round draft pick, tight end O.J. Howard. When you take the knowledge that Brate was one of the best tight ends in the NFL when used a feature player and line that up with the $40 million dollar extension, which made him just the 13th-highest paid tight end in the league, that was another free agency win, as Brate would have surely fielded offers from other teams in free agency next year.

Evans’ contract falling the way it did and Brate’s contract doing the same allowed for thew Bucs to have extra cap space to work with right away, or at least more than market value would have suggested for re-signing the two. That allowed the Bucs to stay on-par with their philosophy, which is something we’ll get into later.

Tampa Bay went into the offseason knowing it needed cornerback help. Its options in free agency were to either trade a pick for a high-contract player, signing a big-name guy or to leave the position unattended until the draft. Instead of going out and trading for Aqib Talib, betting on Richard Sherman or overpaying Trumaine Johnson, the Bucs decided to convince Brent Grimes to play with them for one more year on a $10 million dollar deal. On the surface, Grimes making $7 million with $3 million in incentives in one season at his age, even with his relative talent, is a bit of an oversight. But, where I was may have been shortsighted in my thoughts about the deal, the deal was actually clever.

Keeping Grimes for another year does mean the team will have to do this all over again next season. But, now getting into the Bucs’ offseason philosophies, they believe that the best talent on their team is always going to come through the draft, and that the point of the free agency period is to allow themselves to fill holes here and there to be able to take the best player available at whatever number pick they have – and that goes beyond just the first round. By signing Grimes, they allowed themselves to have more money to deal with in free agency in the trenches while keeping a guy they trust, and also allowed them to not be forced to take a defensive back with their earliest pick, which is a big deal since it’s in the Top 10.

From there, the deals began to fall into place. First, defensive tackle Beau Allen agreed to his three-year, $15 million dollar contract in an attempt to replace the dismissed Chris Baker. After that, in a move that was highly criticized at the time, but in retrospect looks like a pretty good addition, the Bucs upgraded their kicker with Chandler Catanzaro. Tampa Bay already upgraded the defensive line depth with Mitch Unrein, too.

Ravens C Ryan Jensen - Photo by: Getty Images

Ravens C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Getty Images

Then, the Bucs were successful in courting center Ryan Jensen down to Tampa Bay on a four-year, $42 million dollar deal to improve a disastrous interior offensive line group which likely wasn’t going to have all but one of their starters back. Finally, the big move to round out the big moves was the signing of pass rusher Vinny Curry to a three-year, $27 million dollar deal, which in reality is a one-year, $6.5 million contract in terms of guaranteed money. Each of those moves, along with the team bringing back the likes of safety Keith Tandy, defensive end Will Clarke and linebacker Adarius Glanton gave the Bucs both new looks and established depth, all of which went into their offseason philosophy.

Tampa Bay may not be done and may still sign a few new faces before the draft rolls around and it is on the clock with the No. 7 overall pick, but a week after the NFL’s new year has begun, I think it’s fair to look back at the strategy that was. I think if you asked most people, they’d say that as long as the draft will bring another one or two starters, at least, that the offseason ended with a lot more sunshine than it began with. But, that also brings up the question.

How much of what came to be was rooted in patience and planning, and how much of it was bail-outs and luck being on their side?

To come to the correct answer to that question, we have to start from the beginning. And I don’t just mean the beginning of this offseason.

Assembling a team in the NFL requires the correct chemistry between both a general manager and a head coach. When Licht was hired by the Buccaneers in 2014, it was his first general manager job. The interesting wrinkle in that first job was that he was hired after the Buccaneers had hired their coach Lovie Smith. This usually happens the other way around. There’s some speculation here on my part, but Licht, being a first-time GM in his early 40’s, trying to come up with team-building chemistry with a long-time NFL head coach who took a team to the Super Bowl likely had its balance of power skewed, and I don’t mean that in an alpha way, but one that may have held its poison, just more subtly.

We all know that Smith’s tenure as the Buccaneers head coach was less than ideal and didn’t go as planned. Smith’s defenses did not play up to par and his offenses weren’t much better. Some of that can be attributed to the players that were brought in, but even that has to come from a chemistry between a coach and a general manager.

Licht and Smith are on the same page regarding Winston's character – Photo: Courtesy of the Buccaneers

Jason Licht and Lovie Smith – Photo by Buccaneers

Over the years we’ve learned from difference sources around situations that there were cases in the draft and in free agency of players that either Licht wanted to bring in that Smith didn’t agree with or vice versa. That, naturally, would cause holes on a roster – enough holes for one of them to take a hike, as Smith did.

As Licht was getting his feet wet in his first few years as a GM, I think it might have been natural for him to cater to the desires of his experienced head coach, even if the scheme he was building wasn’t a good one. When Dirk Koetter was hired by Licht in 2016, Licht had more experience under his belt, and I think he trusted himself more. I think the chemistry between Koetter and Licht is better than it was with he and Smith, if nothing else but for the experience of both and the nature of which the chain of command was established.

But, even if that’s all true, it’s hard for a general manager to survive a coaching change like that. There’s a likelihood that, even if you bring in the right guy after that, you’re not going to have the three or four years it usually takes to build a winner of a certain coach because you’ve already been on the clock as a general manager and the losses have mounted – hence the need for a new coach. Instead, you’re trying to make up for a roster full of mistakes that you know you can’t just cut and start over. Drastic change can be good, sometimes even needed, but it’s rarely what actually plays out. What Colts general manager Chris Ballard is doing in Indianapolis, now having less than 80 percent of the team’s starters still on the roster from when he took over two years ago, just doesn’t happen often.

Now, I’ll stop myself here and say that I’m not trying to be a Licht apologist. The players he brought in are ultimately on him, non-ideal coach or not, and even after he got rid of Smith and had full control of a draft, that first draft in 2016 might have set his team back even further if defensive end Noah Spence and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves can’t get to producing — not to mention the disastrous Roberto Aguayo pick. That’s all on him. I’m not deflecting any of that. This hole the Bucs have been in is just as much, probably even more, on Licht and he’s even said that himself.

But, in 2017, things got a bit more calculated, and this offseason has been a continuation of that, and in a “what have you done for me lately?” world, Licht has done well. In 2017, the Bucs drafted talent over need – no matter what. They took a second tight end with the No. 19 overall pick in Howard and they took an additional linebacker in the late third round. Both of those picks, along with wide receiver Chris Godwin and safety Justin Evans, proved to be brilliant moves. I think Licht, who was in just his fourth year as a general manager, stopped listening to everyone else in 2017 and picked the guys he thought were good.

I think that’s what he’s doing in 2018, as well, mostly in spite of his past self. He didn’t listen to the people who were yelling at him to go after the big names; instead he was re-signing his own big names. Licht didn’t break the bank where he didn’t need to; instead he stuck with his plan. Instead of signing players with high bust rates, players that might have fizzled out play-wise and personality-wise in Tampa Bay, he quietly signed two of the best run defenders on the defensive line in the NFL last season, a pass rusher who is hungry for more snaps coming off a Super Bowl, and one of the most improved offensive line pieces in the NFL – a player who will bring a mean streak to the trenches.

Licht needed to have a plan that was well calculated and one he needed to stick to it, but he also needed to get lucky. He needed to have a plan to structure contracts in a way that allows Tampa Bay to get out of deals like the one Doug Martin, Baker and Robert Ayers had. The Bucs needed to get lucky with the fact that the Eagles couldn’t keep Allen and Curry, and they needed to get lucky that Jensen chose Tampa Bay when he didn’t have to.

At the beginning of the offseason, as players were becoming available, Licht didn’t pay for the name; he stuck to a plan. He made signing his own big-name players a priority, and making sure he left room to do more of that soon. He and cap guru Mike Greenberg kept playing ahead and didn’t stop to attempt to play catch up. They trusted their process, because even if it might ultimately cost them their jobs if this team doesn’t perform better in 2018, they weren’t about to ruin the structure they’d worked so hard to create just to risk it all on players that hadn’t even done anything for them.

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And that brings us to where we wrap all this up. At the end of the day, this team just has to coach better.

Whether you believe it or not, the talent on this Buccaneers team is already in place. It’s not complete by any means, but it’s fit to compete – it was last year and is even more so this year. Almost every single media outlet and media personality picked the Buccaneers to make the playoff last season. Why? Because a lot of it is there, and after trimming the fat and signing some new blood, it looks even better.

Now, were some of the pieces not what people thought they would be in 2017? Yes. But, many have been remedied. This team moved on from Baker, Martin, Ayers, offensive linemen Evan Smith and Kevin Pamphile and safety T.J. Ward. Those cuts still count as good moves. You know why? Because they didn’t cost the Bucs anything due to how Greenberg structures their deals.

The team just has to be coached better. End of story.

The game plan, the talent evaluation, the execution; they have to get better luck with injuries in 2018, but they also just have to coach better.

This is on Koetter.

This is on Mike Smith.

This is on Todd Monken.

This is on George Warhop.

This is on Brentson Buckner.

This is on Jon Hoke and Brett Maxie and so on.

It will continue to be on Licht, too, but, so far, after free agency, I think he’s held up his end of the deal, especially knowing where he might be come draft time — say for running back, defensive back and more trench help, but at the right costs.

If the point of free agency really is to set yourself up to be able to take the best player available at any draft spot and grow with them organically as the cornerstones of your team, the players who never hit free agency because they’re that good, then the Bucs set themselves up to do that in 2018.

That will be the final telling tale of how successful this offseason was for the Buccaneers. But, as of right now, they brought back one of the best wide receivers in the game, they signed two top players at their positions to team-friendly deals in Grimes and Brate, they got two of the best run-stoppers in the NFL, they acquired a nasty interior offensive lineman, the Bucs got one of the more hungry pass rushers in the league, and they did all that at low cost with high reward at healthy longevity.

The talent is there, and they did it the right way, even if it took some frustration and a little luck.

Now they just have to coach it up.

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About the Author: Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]
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MudManVA
MudManVA
4 years ago

Your analysis is spot on, and i for one think Licht is a very good gm.

Some of the FA with big names going elsewhere frustrated all of us by passing but I like Licht’s plan.

Completely agree on the players needing to be coached better. You can Gand the cooks grade A ingredients but they can still turn the meal into a disaster. It’s on Koetter not Licht.

I like all other BUC fans hope the draft falls our way.

Well done Trevor

Mike Wright
Mike Wright
4 years ago

The talent was always here Trevor. I just think our Bucs have had coaches who for whatever reason..was unable to get that talent out of the players. You have a plethera of teams who rosters are chock full of no namers and low picks. Yet they..plug these palyers in and win consistently. We have had so many excuses. But the fans now are sick of them. Real sick. Its on the coaches. You are correct. Buts its always been there. Simply put, If Koetter and Smitty fail to win this year,? I do beleive they will be joining Schiano and… Read more »

buddah
buddah
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Did you ever consider how fans would be feeling if Koetter had been 5-11 in year 1 and 9-7 in year 2? So far one year in which he exceeded expectations and one year in which he underperformed. A lot of bad luck last year in terms of injuries and no real bye. This roster is a whole lot better than the team that went 9-7.

Jonathan Goodfellow
Jonathan Goodfellow
4 years ago

I do like the players that they brought in, though we could use an additional CB or S during FA.

I think that they also need to add a DE and DT during the draft. Cant rely on Spence, but cant complain if he comes back healthy and partners with a new draft pick

tomcin
tomcin
Reply to  Jonathan Goodfellow
4 years ago

What about the players they didn’t bring in. No CB, no RB, just one so called DE. a couple of DT’s that aren’t better than McDonald. Younger does not make a player better. The best move they made was the center even though they probably overpaid a bit.

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
4 years ago

Really solid take Trevor, nice job. Commented the other day to a friend how I liked how calculated Licht’s FA plan seemed to be, unlike past years. He seemed to have a precise understanding of the deficiencies that existed on the roster and a detailed agenda to follow to address them as much as possible in free agency. Still not there yet, but they’ve been able to narrow the focus when it comes to draft, with openings still remaining at RB, G, DE, DT, CB and S. With the current FA bins being pretty picked through (except for S maybe),… Read more »

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  FLBoy84
4 years ago

To clarify, I’m sure Licht had an “idea” of the roster deficiencies that existed in prior years. It just seemed he and the staff were much more dialed in to them than in years past and the type of player needed to fill those deficiencies. Also seems they may have taken a more honest look at the roster than in years past as well. Like that they targeted not the biggest names, but guys that excelled in areas the team was lacking. And the fact that all five FA’s signed so far appear to be lunch-pail, hard-working, team-first guys that… Read more »

Honey Bear
Honey Bear
4 years ago

Great job with the film breakdown, Trevor! Some fans and media are not as high on these free agents as I am, and you demonstrated clearly how and why they are upgrades. I am still of the mind that Licht has not been a good GM. Sure, Lovie got him off to a rocky start. But the 2016 draft is inexcusable, and he has not built a winning roster (too many holes, not drafting the trenches enough). So far this offseason, I give him a C+. He made some obvious moves (cut Baker and Martin, re-sign Grimes, go after Jensen… Read more »

76Buc
76Buc
4 years ago

Excellent analysis Trevor. I agree with all you said, but would caution, that despite some questionable decisions, Koetter had 9 wins in 2016. Last year was about injuries. I know all teams have them, but not like the Bucs. Except for one brief period in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, this team has looked more like a mash unit than a football team. Perhaps they should invest in million dollar contracts for a medical and training team that is world class, and it wouldn’t count against the cap:)

Brooks Dunn-Winston
Brooks Dunn-Winston
4 years ago

Trevor, do you think Buckner is the DC in-waiting?

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
4 years ago

As for players, would’ve like to see a FA SS like Reid or Searcy brought in instead of the Tandy re-signing, but his deal isn’t so massive that he’s assured a roster spot at least. Great guy, had a nice 4-5 game stretch in ’16, solid ST’er and all, but definitely upgradeable imo. Other than that, no real issues.

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Add the fact that the owners are evidently fans of Trump, who blasted the protests, guessing Reid never sees the inside of One Buc.

Charlie
Charlie
4 years ago

Great article Trevor! Defijnitely spot on when it comes to the coaching staff this year, I think so far Jason has held up his end of the bargain. At the present moment I would give his free agency grade a “B”, I don’t think he’ll be able to fill both Safety and CB spots remaining in free agency, but if he could get one, say Reid or Gaines like talked about earlier then finish extending Kwon, Ali. Get us a couple more Impact D linemen, a Guard and Rb, and try to fill the other secondary whole…this offseason grade could… Read more »

e
e
4 years ago

Great work, Trevor. I was hoping for Billy Price & Daron Payne before FA, and now those spots are filled. I’d love to see Nelson or Will Hernandez in that other guard spot before all is said and done, but Meathead is doing his job. He always has been from the long view.

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  e
4 years ago

Price and Payne could both fill needs at LG and DT, so hope’s not lost yet (though tough time seeing either one being available in the 2nd). Still need a penetrating DT to back up/eventually replace GMC down the road and no word on how the the team plans to definitively man the LG/RG spots, though Ali will be at one of them.

e
e
Reply to  FLBoy84
4 years ago

True… I had the trade down scenario working with the Bills at the time with two lower first round picks, but I’m not getting that trade down feeling anymore. I really would love to see that other guard spot filled out with someone like Nelson or Will Hernandez (could be in the second round?).

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  e
4 years ago

The trade down scenario still may be in play, but hard to see the Bills only settling with a trade up to 7 if they’re targeting a top QB. They have plenty of ammo to maneuver higher if they desire. Nelson or maybe Barkley may be guys others might look to trade up for though. Should be an interesting draft.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
4 years ago

I have a question as too the draft. T.Edmunds is it inconceivable that he can’t be coached to play 4-3DE. If we play 3-4 he stays on the field at LB he is big enough and fast enough?

Darin
Darin
Reply to  Buc 1976
4 years ago

I asked Trevor about Edmunds a while back buddy. I’m curious to see his answer if he responds. I’m really high on him. I think he will end up being the best pass rusher in this draft. I’m just not sold he would be if he came here. Also dont think the bucs need to take any more players that would be switching positions. As Trevor stated they need to coach better. That starts with guys at their long standing positions. I wouldnt be upset if they took Edmunds tho. He is gona be good imo. I think he could… Read more »

martinii
martinii
4 years ago

I have tried to avoid the multiple scenarios that might push the Buc’s back into contention in the NFC South. Way to many “Ifs and Buts” for my aging mind to process. Therefore I think I’ll take a couple “Wild ass guesses,” to sum up my observations in this offseason so far. I think our FA pics are serviceable so far and unless we are fortunate to have another OJ Howard fall to us it seems we are pretty screwed in terms of getting a top pick in the draft. Of course Licht is pretty good at getting the most… Read more »

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983
4 years ago

Good write up

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

I’m not joining this bandwagon; how soon we forget. Glad it’s not my money that’s been pissed away and now we’re having to even spend more money to get players once again. I’m fine with signing Brate and hopefully, Marpet, Smith, and Alexander.
Right now I have no trust in Licht & Koetter.
I’m waiting until the draft is over to see who we have picked!

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Trevor, agree. So why did Licht have to let all those players go then based on what you have said? I’m not attacking you I just don’t understand why you gave Licht so much praise if it’s a coaching issue. He’s the GM; he should be telling Koetter to let some of the coaches go, and what is his new plan to get this team in a winning position.

tomcin
tomcin
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Although I agree with most of what you say, I’m just not sold on Smith.

Buc76
Buc76
4 years ago

They don’t get the benefit of the doubt. They are guilty until proven innocent now. Too many mistakes, too many losses too many false hopes. The only thing that matters are wins. Game 1, Game 2. etc. Our season was over last year on the 1st drive in Arizona when Adrian Peterson ran down our throat. That’s how fast it can go bad. Prove it on the field. None of this talk matters.

pinkstob
pinkstob
4 years ago

Don’t these guys have to, you know, play football games that matter and win before this offseason can be considered a success? Don’t these players have to beat other football teams more often than not year in year out before we say the talent is there? We’ve changed enough coaches to where it is clear to me it’s not the coaches. You can’t fix a problem if you can’t identify it and saying Licht and his players are not the problem is a misdiagnosis.

LordCornelius
LordCornelius
4 years ago

Nice write up. I think we forget how bad the core talent & identity was when Licht arrived. In 5 Mark Dominic drafts; only 2 single players proved worthy of 2nd contracts (McCoy & David). And McCoy was an obvious pick any GM would have made. On the other hand; in just the 2014-2015 Licht drafts; we’ve seen or are likely to see extensions soon for: WR-Evans QB-Winston LT-Smith RG-Marpet MLB-Kwon Or 5 key franchise players vs 2 for Dominic; in 3 less drafts. That’s pretty insane. Not to mention WR Humphries TE Brate As undrafted guys who have become… Read more »

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  LordCornelius
4 years ago

Going to need a replacement RT in the next couple years and the jury is still out on Benenoch and Wester, so OL depth might still need to be addressed near-term. But easy to see a long-term offense being built for sure. What a novelty in TB. :)

tomcin
tomcin
Reply to  FLBoy84
4 years ago

As far as I’m concerned the jury is also out on Smith.

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  tomcin
4 years ago

I”m totally with you, though he has lots of fans at One Buc. In the end, they’re the ones who are spending the money, not us.

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  LordCornelius
4 years ago

I agree with you totally your Lordship. You want even more? Go back to Bruce son of George, along with Chucky, and see what they did. They make even Dominic look good. OMG its been a long time since we had a GM. I’ll take Licht over all those clowns. We are not there yet, but were closing in.

EastEndBoy
EastEndBoy
4 years ago

This year’s FA class overall didn’t really wow me at our positions of need (sure Norwell or Solder would have been significant upgrades)…it was more about the potential through trades where I was disappointed. Perhaps there is more to the Peters story; perhaps Quinn hasn’t recovered from injury; maybe Glenn’s not a huge step up from D Smith; and perhaps Bennett has lost a step. But, if any of those are not the case, then we missed on some significant upgrade potential, where in each case the compensation in return was minimal. The Pats trade a 6th rounder for McCourty… Read more »

makski
makski
Reply to  EastEndBoy
4 years ago

EastEndBoy, if you will also go back and check, our run D was atrocious also! Hard to stop the pass when you can’t stop the run. Stopping the run puts the other team in 3rd and long which greatly improves your chances at stopping the pass. Our problem last year was that we were bad at stopping both. Our other problem, maybe Trevor can chime in for me, was that we ran WAY too much VERY SOFT zone. That, combined with zero pass rush, adds up to a very very bad defense. I hope we go back to a much… Read more »

FLBoy84
FLBoy84
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

Buckner used the “hunting” reference in his presser as well. Hopefully that mentality shows up on Sundays.

jerseybucsfan
jerseybucsfan
4 years ago

Strong piece as usual Trevor. Question remains: How many wins minimum will it take for Koetter to be our coach in 2019? 8? 9? Playoffs?

AlteredEgo
AlteredEgo
4 years ago

Nice read !

Dman
Dman
4 years ago

Trevor, nice article, good perspective. I like free agency so far. Solid pro’s that have gotten us younger. I’d like to resign Pamphile. He had a nice run until they moved Marpet to center – neither Evan Smith or Pamphile showed well in 2017 and its not like either of them forgot how to play. Smith is past his time, Pamphile is still young and we’ve made the investment, he can play. As for free agents, last year was a bust in both chemistry and production. Keeping Desean Jackson is a question mark for me. Speed, talent, but where was… Read more »

makski
makski
4 years ago

I know I’m in the minority, but I wouldn’t mind trading Humphries on draft day for a premium pick. I think we would be much better off with Evans and Godwin playing most of the outside snaps. They should use D Jackson some on the outside and some on the inside and I think BoBo Wilson could fill in just fine for Hump in the slot occasionally. This would keep Jackson fresher and give BoBo some much needed experience. We can use all the draft picks we can get. I wonder how high a draft pick NE would give us… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  makski
4 years ago

He sure has one quality the Flying Elvises seem to covet.

Freeman Strickland
Freeman Strickland
4 years ago

Trevor, Aren’t we missing important opportunities in free agency? There are quality DBs still on the market – Reid and Boston, Gaines and Breeland. And, are you worried that the Bucs will regret releasing Ayers? His numbers were very close to Curry’s, and his salary was a third less. I am remembering when the Bucs let Bennet walk. Not that I am against adding Curry; I just do not understand subtracting Ayers unless you can get Chubb in the draft. There is not much of a free agent market for LG and RB, so those should be the high draft… Read more »

Freeman Strickland
Freeman Strickland
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Wow – they just traded for Jason Pierre-Paul! Who knew? :)

tog
tog
4 years ago

Well argued, well thought out piece. Free agency was never the disaster some made it out to be – winning in March means losing in September. But I gotta say you’re giving Licht way too much credit. First, was the plan to be calculated in 2016 and 2017 FA? The Bucs gave out the 7th and 11th most guaranteed money (what actually matters) in those years. So far, they’re 12th this year. Second, and I know you know this: you can’t evaluate the 2017 draft class. It wasn’t a great class – we just don’t know yet. I know you’re… Read more »

tog
tog
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

“doesn’t mean you can dismiss what they do for three years until you can properly judge” You’re absolutely right. I overstated my case – let me adjust: You can’t say the Bucs 2017 picks were good picks yet because of both the limited snaps they played and the level they played at. For example, they all looked good as rookies. But they have a LONG way to go to become really good NFL players. Howard was limited as a blocker and played only 55% of snaps. Evans and Beckwith showed good but were also in what they can do. Beckwith… Read more »

tog
tog
Reply to  Trevor Sikkema
4 years ago

Yeah man, I always look forward to your content and enjoy the back and forth.

Timbuc2
Timbuc2
4 years ago

I can’t believe that nobody is talking about the extending of a below average Safety in Conte! Wasn’t even mentioned in the article. This was NOT a good signing at all.

plopes808
plopes808
4 years ago

I agree with everything you said Tevor. I’d also add another offseason win for us, and the one I think will make the most difference for us, and that’s Buckner. This guy has managed to get top production out of a variety of players who haven’t seen the same production since. He also served as one of the reasons defensive players picked Tampa over other teams. I have a feeling we are looking at our new DC. I love the in depth analysis of Allen and Curry. A lot of people worry too much about the numbers. If every lineman… Read more »

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

I’m drafting defensive and then cornerback then defensive end then cornerback then anything else. I am seriously hoping we trade down in the first round because our priority is not a running back offensive lineman or safety. Need is defensive end then cornerback.

LVBUC2
LVBUC2
4 years ago

I’m not as happy with what has happened so far in free agency. We still don’t have a pass rush. Barber is the #1 option at RB. We have Grimes, Smith and VHIII as our CB scary. If we sign Gains that could help. Is there any Rb still out there that could help? Thats a lot of holes to fill in the draft. I think the Bucs are realy will regret not signing Quinn.

Will Moffatt
Will Moffatt
4 years ago

Did we really just get jpp