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The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Mailbag Question: Do you think Ronald Jones II and Ke’Shawn Vaughn can carry the load at RB next year?

Answer: Frankly, no. And as you will see in my own Bucs Battle Plan For The 2021 Offseason on Tuesday, I have Tampa Bay adding a veteran running back who is also a receiving threat out of the backfield. I will also have the team drafting one, likely early as well.

I think that Leonard Fournette will be gone in free agency and are certain the Bucs won’t re-sign LeSean McCoy, so they will need bodies – and ones that aren’t as one-dimensional as Ronald Jones II, and ones that show more that Ke’Shawn Vaughn did as a rookie in 2020. I am not ready to give up on Vaughn after just one pedestrian season, but I also didn’t see many “wow” moments from him in limited action that makes me confident he is a future feature back in the NFL. With that said, by all indications, the organization is still high on him and saw plenty from him during practices that apparently the media didn’t see.

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn and QB Tom Brady

Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Even if that is the case we know this coaching staff – and Tom Brady himself – will be pushing to add some veterans into the mix like they did last offseason when McCoy and Fournette were signed. New England’s James White is certainly in consideration.

Question: How do you think the TE position shakes out with Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard and Tanner Hudson?

Answer: Having O.J. Howard back and hopefully at 100 percent from a torn Achilles tendon will make this offense even more explosive in my opinion. It gives the team flexibility to run more two-tight end sets, creating more confusion for opposing defenses. And even if it were to be the exact same offense with just Howard in the Cameron Brate role, this offense will get better.

No one loves Brate more than I do, but Howard is a physical freak of an athlete for his position and was just starting to scratch the surface of what he could be when he ruptured his Achilles in Week 4. He is bigger and stronger, and a better blocker than Brate, so that alone tells me he will have a bigger impact on the offense than Brate would. And Brate might not even be on the team. With the Bucs’ back against the salary cap wall with the number of unrestricted free agents to sign, Brate could be a cap casualty due to his $6.25 million salary, and at the very least, will need to agree to a reduced salary to stay with the team.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard

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

The Bucs will be re-signing exclusive rights free agent tight end Tanner Hudson, however other than the preseason of 2019, he hasn’t produced very much when given a handful of opportunities. I could also see Antony Auclair back in 2021 with he and Hudson battling for the fourth roster spot at that position.

Mailbag Question: Are the Glazers willing to part with $60-70 million in the next week to get these free agent deals done with signing bonuses?

Answer: If that were to be the case the answer is yes, as even in a pandemic season the Buccaneers were profitable. The Glazers also would love to see their team win back-to-back Super Bowl titles and the best way to get in position to do that is of course to keep as many free agents a possible.

Bryan and Joel Glazer - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bryan and Joel Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

However, you asked about millions in signing bonuses, but that isn’t how Tampa Bay’s front office operates. Instead, the team offers guaranteed money normally in the first two years of contracts or roster bonuses rather than signing bonuses. This is one of the reasons Tampa Bay is either the best or next to the best in terms of the least amount of dead cap money year in and year out. Its a win-win for both the player and organization and clearly has worked in the Bucs’ favor as evidenced by their cap positioning each season.

Question: What do you think would happen if the NFL had no draft and had rookie free agency instead? In this hypothetical scenario, would it be easier or more difficult to build a championship roster?

Answer: The short answer to the question in this Mailbag is, while it is a unique thought, I think it would be an awful idea, honestly. It reeks of the sports that don’t have salary caps where the team willing to spend the most can buy their team and essentially guarantee itself a playoff berth each season. But even in those sports there is still a draft, and drafts have to be the constant in terms of building franchises.

Bucs GM Jason Licht

Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Drafts at least allow teams that don’t have huge budgets to still stay competitive if they are able to scout and draft well. The Tampa Bay Rays are a perfect example of that. Normally at the bottom or close to the bottom in terms of payroll, the Rays have went to the World Series twice now in their fairly short existence and knocked off some giant teams with payrolls that exceed the Rays’ payroll by four times or more. But eliminating the draft from baseball – or in football as your question suggested – it would definitely create huge divides between the haves and the have-nots.

If you are Trevor Lawrence and could choose between the Jacksonville Jaguars and say the New Orleans Saints, where would you go? Having a traditional draft allows the bad teams to get better pretty quickly if they handle their business from within their scouting departments. Without that hope, bad teams could continue to be basement dwellers for decades as the top players each year would chose to sign with teams closer to being Super Bowl-ready.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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, the beach and family time.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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toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
1 year ago

In regards to the signing bonus question and Mark’s answer – if we’re ultimately going to bring back everyone all of us want to bring back, that’s I really think that’s the only way it can happen. At the bare minimum, if they ALL take roughly $2M less than expected per year (which isn’t going to happen, but for the sake of argument, let’s just be REALLY optimistic), then based on per year averages, the group of David ($10M), Barrett ($17M), Godwin ($16M), Suh ($6M), Gronk ($5M), Succop ($3M), and our draft picks ($7M) are going to add about $64M… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by toofamiliar17
Buc76
Buc76
1 year ago

You seem to be certain Leonard Fournette is gone. You’ve said it several times. You don’t talk about Adam Schefter’s report today that they are close to extending Brady possibly past the age of 45. It seems to me if Brady wants Fournette he will be here. I would think Brady is probably saying I’ll extend in return for a weapon or 2. If Brady wants Fournette, Fournette stays.

Buc76
Buc76
1 year ago

How can you say the offense will be more explosive with OJ Howard? Maybe the OJ Howard before a torn Achilles but there is no way of knowing that now. No one knows if he will fully recover and stay healthy. All bets are off on OJ Howard. He’s done very little since he was drafted here. I’d be talking to him about a pay cut before the other guys.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Buc76
1 year ago

Howard’s 2021 salary is fully guaranteed for injury. Since he won’t be able to pass a physical by the start of the league year (now a week away), that essentially means that his salary is fully guaranteed for 2021. So he has 0 reason/motivation to take a pay cut. Compare that to someone like Brate, who the Bucs are capable of approaching and saying, “We’re willing to pay you this much: $_______. If that doesn’t work for you, we’ll have to release you. Your call.” And if they cut him, then he gets nothing more from the team.

Mr.Hat
Mr.Hat
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

His salary being guaranteed is great for OJ since it’s more likely than not he’ll just wind up back in the tub for part of the season. Cutting Brate would be a horrible move. Availability is a players greatest strength and Brate is about as durable ( and sure handed) as you can hope for.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
1 year ago

Trevor Lawrence to Saints & Pennei Sewell to Tampa, I am good with that. Ja’mar Chase to Atl and Justin Fields to TB Let’s Go! Personally I like the idea of no draft, let the kids choose where they want to play. There’s enough talent to go around so With the right coaching and scheme all veterans will end up on one roster waiting to crush the kids.

drdneast
drdneast
1 year ago

Sorry Mark, but I disagree with you in regards to our RB situation. I believe RoJo and Vaughn could carry the load for the team and probably will even if the Bucs do draft a RB high. I guess old memories did hard on PR but RoJo has turned into a better receiver and he would have passed 1000 rushing yards this past season if he hadn’t missed two regular season games. He has improved every year and he will be in a contract year in 2021 so I expect we will see his best. Vaugh, in his limited carries,… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  drdneast
1 year ago

Vaughn was terrible as a rookie, and his college tape gives me no reason to expect him to play at a high level moving forward. I’m a big RoJo fan. I agree that he’s a better receiver than he’s given credit for, but we all need to recognize that he’s never going to be a guy who can split out wide and create mismatches, or who can kill the whole RB route tree and generate ample separation. And he does have issues with drops. When he does get open and catch the ball, he can be a real force after… Read more »

fredster
fredster
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 year ago

I Agree Vaughn is a question mark at best. Can’t see why anyone would think he can carry the load. Crazy. Not great runner, not great pass catcher and he fumbled in his very limited use. I’m not saying he’s a bust but at this point I’ve seen nothing to suggest he’s starter material either.

BucHarbour
BucHarbour
Reply to  fredster
1 year ago

You both are hilarious. Vaughn didn’t have a camp and was delayed for training camp (what little of that there was) due to COVID. He still averaged 4.2 yards per carry in very limited action. ROJO’s 98 yard run bumps his average to 5.1. Take that one single carry away and it’s 4.6ypc. Vaughn has 26 carries for 109 yards in his rookie season. ROJO had 23 carries for 44 yards, 1.9ypc as a rookie. ROJO had 172 carries for 724 yards last year, or 4.2ypc – same as Vaughn this year (who averaged 4.2ypc in the playoffs as well).… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by BucHarbour
Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
1 year ago

Bucs are going to draft a RB and also sign a vet RB. And it is expected that RoJo and Vaugh improve as well.
I think that sounds reasonable to me. Can’t become complacent though so drafting a RB that can play in this offense in the event one or both young RBs (RoJo and Vaugh) stall their development is important

scubog
scubog
1 year ago

I thought by now people would understand that each team has the same basic parameters regarding player salaries. Thus, the days of Hugh Culverhouse being able to increase his margin by paying less than market value are over.

Dman
Dman
1 year ago

Every year we’ve heard how great Howard is going to be and that he’s a phenom, etc. So tired of it. All hat, not cattle.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
Reply to  Dman
1 year ago

I do see Howard’s upside but I am excited also with Hudson’s upside too along with McElroy’s. But this is why you have to bring Gronk back because this offense doesn’t function without a TE that can block and catch like Gronk.

76 Fan
76 Fan
Reply to  Dman
1 year ago

Definitely needs more cowbell.