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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36 Comments

  1. 1

    spartan

    Personally I balk at spending all that money on a single player short of a QB.

    The main reason is that albeit may finalize the offense, I think we need to invest more in the defense first before we even consider being in a “window”. Unless you can guarantee scoring every time the offense steps on the field we are still more likely to be outscored than outscore.

  2. 2

    Cody

    I’m with Spartan. I also don’t like going after Lev Bell. I think he’s a great player, but I don’t know if he’s a great teammate. So I’d rather up the contracts of Evans, Jameis (maybe), Kwon, and Marpet before going all-in on a running back with question marks. I’d much rather pay for a guy like Trumaine Johnson, Ryan Jensen, or Andrew Norwell this offseason. If we’re going to sign a running back then I’d prefer Carlos Hyde and a rookie in a later round. Good chance Sony or Ronald Jones will be in the second round for us. Also

    Drafting Saquon would also be great, but I’d obviously much rather have Bradley Chubb.

    My personal preference at this point would be to trade the Bills for their first two picks in the back of the first round. We could then hopefully get both Harold Landry and one of the DTs (Payne, Vea or Hurst) or Josh Jackson. Then get either Ronald Jones, Billy Price, or Sony Michel in the second.

    We have too many needs on this team.

  3. 3

    yuccaneers

    Trevor its flawed logic to only be looking at a singular player when analyzing the cost consequences of signing Bell to such a lucrative guaranteed contract. There are from more second and third order affects that will trickle down from such a deal. The team has what it feels is a young nucleus in Evans, Winston, Brate, Marpet, Alexander and by their count Smith – that are all set to have expiring contracts the over the course of the next two years.

    Paying a running back nearly $20 million guaranteed over the course of the next two years and roughly 12% yearly of you available cap – is QB percentile type money.

    Ultimately, such a deal, is a deeper cost and consequence than your framing it out to be. Have to look at team building in roster construction in 3 year increments.

  4. 4

    Dbuc63

    Regarding Bell, NO WAY! I agree with RB vs WR as in effectiveness on “team” but to lose all cap space on a RB is absurd to me personally. It’s not like we have a mediocre to good O-line either. Our O-line needs some run graders to open things up at least a smidgen. What if Bell goes on IR or even worse ACL that even when healed loses a step. Too common for RB’s than any other position. Good piece though Trevor. It’s good to think about scenarios like these but in this case I strongly disagree.

  5. 5

    Buc-Up

    How about reworking Gerald McCoy’s huge deal some time in the near future. He’s averaged almost $12 million a year since we drafted him. Remember he was drafted before the current Rookie Scale, so he’s been one of the top paid DT’s since his rookie year. Maybe he reworks it to give them room like Tom Brady does for the Patriots.

  6. 6

    1bucfanjeff

    Trevor, is Barkley’s contact shyness between the tackles an exception or norm?

    I like Barkley, he’s elite, but the Bucs could use DE help in the worst way. We can still get a very good RB in round 2.

  7. 7

    Wausa

    I’d be very excited if the Bucs signed Bell, but if you told me the Bucs were going to sign:

    Carlos Hyde RB San Francisco
    Andrew Norwell OG Carolina
    Patrick Robinson CB Philly
    Lamarcus Joyner DB LA Rams

    or

    Leveon Bell RB Pittsburgh

    I would pick the four very good NFL players over the one superstar.

    1. 7.1

      Cody

      Why Patrick Robinson? CB is a pretty deep position group in the draft.

      1. 7.1.1

        Wausa

        Cody:
        I agree it is a deep position in the draft, but the Bucs have the worst defense in the NFL and their best corner is in his mid 30’s and may retire.

        The Bucs need to get at least 3 new starters on the defensive line, one or two new starters on the offensive line, one new starter(2 if Grimes doesn’t sign) at corner back, one starter at safety and one starter at running back this offseason either through free agency and/or the draft.

        With all of those holes on the team the Bucs need to attack free agency to give themselves some flexibility in the draft.

  8. 8

    matador

    The problem I have with this is that we suffer from adverse selection. FAs don’t come here to win they come for the cash. Everyone knows Koetter and Licht are dead men walking. If you are a truly gifted athlete driven to win why on earth would you take the chance of signing with us given our recent history of ineptitude and not knowing who your coach and GM would be next year?

    We have too many holes to make splashy FA deals and be one key injury away from failure. Build through the draft emphasize the lines or we’ll perpetually be behind the 8-ball

  9. 9

    Garv

    Food for thought. It SOUNDS good……. but. The fact is running backs rarely last that long. It’s why their value in drafts has dropped so much. The kind of money Trevor is typing about is insane for a running back. Who knows how Bell would react after getting that much at 25 years old? And one hit and the Bucs are screwed for years. No, too rich for my taste.

    But if it did happen? Tickets would be sold. No doubt about that.

  10. 10

    MudManVA

    First Bell is great, but…
    1. He has had a solid if not verrry good OL to run behind in Pitt. The Bucs OL is not equivalent.
    2. No on the money, to much for the riskiest position in football. (look @ NE)
    3. The Bucs are a young team that will need second contracts that will draw down the cap number over the next few years.

    Barkley is nice, but…
    1. I don’t think he is a generational RB worth the pick @ #7
    2. You must have a strong OL for the #7 RB pick make hay. Bucs are just not there yet.
    3. Too many good RB’s in every draft in rounds 2-5.

    Besides for me it’s Sony Michel in round #2. He passes the eye test, would have gotten the stats & press if he didn’t share touches with Chubb. Now that is the value pick at RB in 2018 draft.

    I would:
    -Keep Barber
    -Draft Michel in round 2
    -pick-up a FA RB
    -Use a late round pick or an UDFA for your 4th RB

    1. 10.1

      MudManVA

      PS- there is another risk with Bell. He did fail a drug test 2 years ago and was suspended. Another violation would be a disaster.

  11. 11

    FLBoy84

    Great article Trevor, some really good food for thought. While we were a poor running team, we were still 2nd in total 1st downs, 4th in 3rd down conv and 1st in 4th down conv, but only 18th in scoring. Have to think solidifying the interior OL and adding a quality RB would do wonders for improving the scoring.

    1. 11.1

      FLBoy84

      On the fence when it comes to Bell being that “quality RB” though. Personally have trouble tying up that much cash in a RB, though Bell is elite. Would spreading that cash out to grab multiple quality starters at RB, OG/C and DL be more prudent considering the holes on the roster? Gotta lean towards “yes”. If we were a more competent and complete team, then adding Bell would make more sense at that point, but we’re not there yet.

  12. 12

    Pete Wood

    Nothing good can come from signing a high priced free agent RB. Clinton Portis looked like superman when he played for Denver. Washington spent the big bucks and he never racked up even average stats for them.
    RBs are a dime a dozen, readily available in the draft, and have a very short shelf life. If you have a decent line, you’ll have a decent run game. Plain and simple. Good teams build up the line and then plug in the running back of the day and tear up the field. Good teams do not pin all their hopes on a stud RB by himself fixing everything.

  13. 13

    Ja'crispy

    First of all definitely no to Barkley. Im going DE or DT in the first round, maybe Nelson too. Im torn on signing bell and heres why. If it happened i would be very excited. Our offense would be stacked, scoring would go up, ticket sales, and more wins. As of right now i would even go as far to say that i would rather sign Bell and let Evans hit free agency when its his time. Elite running backs are harder to come across then good receivers. Licht and Keotter need to make a splash move to save their jobs so i wouldnt be surprised if they try to get him. I dont think it will happen because it will cause us to spend all the cap space and forcing us to loose some good players down the road. I can see a Revis 2.0 situation happening. We sign bell, dont make the playoffs, Keotter and Licht get fired, New coach and GM come in and release bell because hes taking up too much cap space. so im signing Crowell, Lewis, or Hyde in FA and drafting Michel, Penny, or my sleeper pick Akrum Wadley.

  14. 14

    surferdudes

    To much money for a R.B., best to draft one rounds 2 to 4. Need to lean towards D line with our first pick. Chubb, or Vea would help our cause, McCoy is the only name under contract. We need bodies up front bad!!

  15. 15

    martinii

    Really thought provoking article. For all the reasons you mentioned L. Bell would look good in pewter. Saquan Barkley was a great NCAA player but there is always the question how good would he be against NFL talent. What do you take an untested Rookie or a very expensive proven Veteran?
    My crystal ball is a little foggy so I like several others above would prefer to focus on a 3rd/4th RD running back and make every effort to focus our cash and picks on the Monkey that remains on our back, the trenches, and Preferably D-line. As someone mentioned above you are one hit away from blowing a huge investment, and since the Buc’s have other fish to fry I would stay the course.

  16. 16

    Charlie

    Evans, Bell, Jensen, Vea, move up to get Price or Wynn if need be. Let Jameis play on the option, dump him to sell the bank for Kelly if he can’t figure it out in 2019. Obviously still cut our other dead weight to resign Marpet and Alexander. I hate the idea of paying $30million+ on 5th year potential that wouldn’t have sniffed the playoffs by then.

  17. 17

    XpfcWintergreen2

    After reading the first few paragraphs this occurred to me.

    What if the brain trust through Licht went to the Glazers and said something like this. “We are THIS CLOSE in spite of our record for this year. All we have to do is stick to our plan. You can see the progress we’ve made as shown on our checklist. ” The Glazers then went off and deliberated among themselves. Joel came back to Jason and said: “OK we will give you guys one more year.”

    This is all speculation on my part. I am obviously not a mind reader. I was not the proverbial fly on the wall.
    _______________________________
    Go Bucs!!!!

  18. 18

    Buc 1976

    The Bucs need at least 2 O linemen before any RB can produce. IMO the Bucs Must address both lines to be in the playoffs..

  19. 19

    Glen Davies

    Yet another article on RB w/o addressing how predictable our running game remains. Plus, our play action fools no one when there’s 12″ air showing?? How can we fool opposing defenses when we 1) usually run on 1st down, 2) have such lousy mechanics on play action??

  20. 20

    Horse

    I would sign Peyton Barber to a three year contract with 2 years guaranteed before I acquire someone else. We really need two running backs, not one, and this would help situation. Bell is too expensive and one of my Steeler friends, who goes to a couple of their games every year, said he’s not a team player and he’s not worth the kind of money he is demanding.

  21. 21

    Honey Bear

    Neither one of these guys is worth it. Placing too much value at the RB position!

    Round 1 has got to be Chubb first, Nelson second, and that’s it! We need to build the TRENCHES. Round 2 should be Sony Michel, and we should consider trading up to nab him if we need to. If it’s not Sony, it should be another DT/DE like Taven Bryan or Sam Hubbard. Then in round 3 go for ANOTHER guy in the trenches, unless we did not get Sony in rd 2, then possibly take an RB if we like one there. We can also address RB with FA in Dion Lewis or Hyde, or possibly later in the draft.

    My point is, we need to be better in the…you guessed it… TRENCHES. We should also look at signing some O-linemen.

    Guys below that I have as possible draft picks are between rounds 1-4, which means at least 3 of our top 4 picks NEED to be linemen, with at least 2 definitely being D-line.

    T – Smith
    G – FA (Norwell / Pugh) or Draft (Nelson / Price / Hernandez / Wynn / Smith / Ragnow)
    C – FA (Richberg / Jensen) or Draft (Price / Wynn / Ragnow / Daniels)
    G – Ali Marpet (please put him back!)
    T – Dotson

    DE – Ayers, Spence, FA (Bennett / Murphy / Okafor), and draft (Chubb / Bryan / Hubbard / Ejiofor / Speaks)
    DT – McCoy, McDonald, and draft (Bryan / Hurst / McIntosh / Nnadi)

    UPGRADES!

  22. 22

    deeznuts

    Someone’s gotta run the rock next year.. IMO Bell’s best years are behind him, and he’s got some serious maturity/ego issues. If Barkley is there when we pick it’s a no brainer but Fitzpatrick and Chubb are going to be hard to pass on if they’re there

  23. 23

    XpfcWintergreen2

    Horse, I think your info on Bell as a team player is CRITICAL to the discussion as well as on any deliberations on the part of the Bucs’ brain trust.

    _______________________
    Go Bucs!!!!!!!

  24. 24

    XpfcWintergreen2

    Honeybear I have Chubb first, Vea second and Nelson for my choices at pick seven. However, If Chubb and Nelson are both gone and Vea is no really to be considered a top 10 pick, then I want us to trade down and make Vea our 1st choice. Of course we all know that the choice of trading down may not occur for the Buccaneers.

    ____________
    Go Bucs!!!

    1. 24.1

      Honey Bear

      I would be okay with trading down a few spots to get Vea. It’s risky though, because we could trade down and end up missing him. The upside is then we would have capital to trade up for Sony Michel, Taven Bryan, Billy Price, or someone else that is borderline 1st/2nd. Drafting Vea at 7 is an option if Nelson and Chubb are off the board and we think Vea will go quickly after that.

  25. 25

    XpfcWintergreen2

    P.S. I have always been a clunky typist. However, I have a new computer with a cheap keyboard. I am still tailoring my
    personal environment, but if don’t succeed via stuff available from Windows 10 or free online then I will $pend a little extra to upgrade my keyboard . Bear with me.

    _______________
    Go Me!!!!!!!!!!

  26. 26

    Benjamin

    NO, No, No!!! SIgning Bell does not fix this team. We need at least one good O linemen either a C or OG, we need a DT and at least one DE, we need a couple CB’s, a couple RB’s, and a Safety at the very least, plus we have our own guys that will need to be signed this offseason and next off season. we need to get as many quality football players as possible to start filling some of the holes on this team. Signing Bell would only fix one and would take away money needed to fix others and I do not think he would have the same level of impact here as he did for the Steelers. They have a better overall team than we do from the starters to their depth they have a better roster. Bell is a luxury we cannot afford now if we had just gone 11-5 or 10-6 and got within a game or 2 of the SB then yea sign Bell and lets go win this SB but we are not even close to that yet and i doubt we will be in 2018. We need to draft the bet DL or OL prospect thats there at 7 and get a RB in the 2nd or 3rd rd.

  27. 27

    Dundaz

    Another great Cover 3 Trevor, I really like how you break things down in detail but still make it understandable to those like me who have never actually played organised football. Also like how you keep your analysis neutral even if you love a player/scheme.
    The Bucs are fortunate to have a few positions sorted via a drafted player, and more and more we are seeing offenses rely on two or more good RBs instead of just the one workhorse superstar. So I don’t think that “selling Man Utd” to get Bell would be a good move. Is Barkley is there at 7 would be a good pick, if not maybe someone in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

  28. 28

    toofamiliar17

    It feels like Reynolds wrote the first page of this thing. Or at least told Trevor which position to take. I would be thrilled to get a player of Bell’s caliber, mainly due to his prowess in the passing game to go with his chops as a runner. But to entertain the idea that he might be worth $15M+ per year is just ludicrous. That’s ABSURD money for a running back. A good rule of thumb – if you give a market setting deal to a guy that makes the deal of the second highest paid player at his position worth roughly 50% of that guy’s deal, then you’re making a horrible mistake.

    Bell is tremendous. But signing him to a deal like that would mean letting go of at least two of Kwon, Marpet, Jameis, and Evans long term. The money won’t be there for all of those guys. It won’t. It just isn’t there. Period. Especially considering the health risks that come with the RB position, there’s NO way I’d trade any two of those guys (and subsequently have to replace them with valuable draft picks, which we already need more of than we have to fill our many needs) to have the best RB in the game.

    The point about the offenses of the Steelers and Bucs is senseless. There’s a lot driving that Pittsburgh offense. Bell is great, but you know who else has been great there when called upon? DeAngelo Williams has averaged 4.2 YPC and caught plenty of passes while filling in for Bell. He’s looked like a top 5 RB when Bell’s missed time to injury the last couple of years. This is an offense that makes things easier on RBs, thanks in no small part to maybe the most deadly and diverse passing attack in the game. Sure, the Steelers have been great, and Bell has helped them with that. But to assign him a particularly large share of that credit is laughably dumb.

    I’d love to have him or a player like him. But he isn’t worth $15M+ per year, or even close to it. That would be a terrible, short sighted move for this franchise in the long run.

  29. 29

    Charlie

    Dirk needs to run the ball at least 45% of all plays this season to more than likely have a successful offense and save his dumb job

  30. 30

    scubog

    Of course we all would like a player of Bell’s stature on our team if there were no other factors to consider. My position on Free Agents has always been one of caution. It’s the person more than the player that gives me pause. I would be worried that Bell will get an even grander opinion of himself, have even more homeboys and girls hanging on and think of himself more of a “binis man” than a football player. If he was the one missing ingredient for a championship it might be worth the risk, but sadly we have not gotten to that point just yet due to a pathetic Defense.

    Yes, we absolutely need a running back who is more than a ho-hum journeyman type like Peyton Barber and the rest of our group. We need one for whom the opponent’s Defensive Coordinator is staying up past midnight hoping to devise ways to slow him down. There are a few in this upcoming Draft.

  31. 31

    Chosen1

    Hey Trevor, I keep hearing hearing about the 3 names. I don’t think that any of these guys will be there when the Bucs are on the clock. So could you please do a cover 3 on Orlando Brown?I am interested on your opinion of him and selecting a tackle in the top 10.

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