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April 2, 2013 @ 10:14 am
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Bucs’ 2013 Offseason Plan Has Done Little To Excite Fans

Written by Haley
Cornish
Haley Cornish

Haley
Cornish

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Despite the team signing nine players this offseason, Tampa Bay’s fan base has grown restless during free agency. But that could all change with a trade for Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and adding another cornerback in the 2013 NFL Draft.
It’s understandable how panicked many Bucs fans have been over the last couple of weeks. Tampa Bay started off free agency with a bang, signing the top safety on the market, Pro Bowler Dashon Goldson, to a five-year contract. But since then, they have allowed key players like defensive end Michael Bennett, the team’s leading sacker, and defensive tackle Roy Miller to slip away. Both were stalwarts on the league’s top rushing defense in 2012.

At a time when it should be adding cornerbacks, Tampa Bay even lost E.J. Biggers, who many fans were pleased to see depart via free agency, although he would have provided depth at a very thin position.

The fact that the Bucs haven’t done much to replace these players has fans upset, and may just be relying on another stellar draft to do so. While it is quite understandable to be nervous about what the Bucs plan is, fans should understand that there is indeed a plan. The Bucs’ starting cornerbacks aren’t going to be Leonard Johnson and Danny Gorrer next year.

It was reported that former Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes was the Bucs’ “Plan B” if a trade for New York Jets Pro Bowl corner Darrelle Revis fell through. But the fact that the Bucs didn’t even have Grimes come for a visit makes that seem unlikely. If Tampa Bay wanted to put some pressure on the Jets to pull the trigger on a trade, they would have put forth much more effort by bringing in another cornerback for a visit.

So if Grimes wasn’t part of the plan, then what is? Surely the Buccaneers aren’t relying solely on a Revis trade to help their atrocious secondary. Well, fans don’t need to look far for a back-up plan. If a trade doesn’t happen, the Bucs will likely restructure Eric Wright’s contract and bring him back at a reduced price.

While that may not excite fans as much as a Revis trade, it’s not a bad move. Wright actually played well when he wasn’t injured or suspended. In fact, Wright missed six games last season, during which the Bucs went 1-5, the only win coming in the final game against the Falcons. With Wright on the field, the Bucs went 6-4 and were in playoff contention.

Along with re-signing Wright, the Bucs will hope to have Ronde Barber come back for one more year at the nickel cornerback position. This is no certainty, although many believe he will ultimately return.

Rounding out the cornerback spot on the roster will be a rookie. The Bucs could grab a player like Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Washington’s Desmond Trufant, Mississippi State’s Jonathan Banks or Darius Slay, Rutgers’ Logan Ryan or Southeastern Louisiana’s Robert Alford in the first two rounds, or UConn’s Blidi Wreh-Wilson, San Diego State’s Leon McFadden, Utah State’s Will Davis or California’s Marc Anthony in the middle rounds. Cornerbacks don’t typically perform great in their rookie year, but the Bucs would gladly welcome some new additions after last year’s debacle against the pass.

A revamped secondary that includes Wright, Barber, Goldson, strong safety Mark Barron, and a solid rookie cornerback actually doesn’t sound too bad. But obviously having the best cornerback in the league on your team would be preferable for most fans.

If the Bucs trade for Revis, they might end up giving up their 2013 first-round pick, which could otherwise be used on a cornerback. So even with Revis, don’t be surprised if the Bucs keep Eric Wright instead of relying on a second or third-round rookie CB to start the season.

It is also worth noting that Goldson is extremely close to Wright, and stated on 98.7 The Fan that he hopes to mentor Wright if he remains with the Bucs. Goldson is clearly a “Buccaneer Man” (the team wouldn’t have signed him otherwise) in terms of character, so the Bucs’ brass might feel more comfortable keeping Wright around with Goldson to keep him on track.

While the secondary is the most popular topic of interest for Bucs fans, an equally important need is the defensive line. There is little talented depth and quality competition anywhere on the line at this point, and that should be a serious concern. It is nearly impossible to go an entire year without injuries on the defensive line, so surely the Bucs will need to add more depth before the season starts.

It would be wise to target a veteran pass rusher like John Abraham or Dwight Freeny, but with guys like that it’s tough to convince them to want to play for a non-playoff team. Expect the Bucs to target a pass rusher early in the draft to compete for a starting role. The Bucs are high on defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who will replace Bennett in the starting lineup, but injuries have stalled his development and could continue to hold him back. If Bowers isn’t able to perform the way he is expected to, the Bucs will be in big trouble no matter who is in the secondary.

Tampa Bay would rather not part ways with its 2013 first-round selection in a trade for Revis because that pick his could be used on BYU defensive end Ziggy Ansah or Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner if either player falls in the draft. Adding another quality defensive end would provide depth and a very good rotation. 

It is also worth noting that while the recent under-the-radar signings in running back Brian Leonard, defensive end George Selvie, defensive tackle Derek Landri, kicker Nate Kaeding, and wide receiver Steve Smith have fans even more annoyed than before, the Bucs are doing something they haven’t done in a while, which is to build quality depth. Injuries hurt the Bucs in 2011 at the defensive tackle and running back spots and at the cornerback position last year.

Leonard, Landri, Kaeding, Smith and Selvie, along with tight end Tom Crabtree, wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, and linebacker Jonathan Casillas provide much needed competition to their respective positions. Competition brings out the best in players, so while these lower-level signings might not be very exciting, they should improve the team in 2013.

Although the cornerback position has yet to be upgraded, and the only real big splash in free agency was Goldson, the Bucs have quietly added six other free agents this offseason.

It may seem as though Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik is just sitting back enjoying the offseason while the best players that were once available in free agency become unavailable, that is not the case. There is a plan in place.

While it may be taking longer to unfold than what most people expected, it will continue to unfold and reveal itself in the next couple of months as the draft approaches and another wave of free agency will follow shortly thereafter. And if at that point the Bucs have still not met fans’ expectations, it will reflect in ticket sales for the upcoming season.

Last modified on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 13:32
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    As a season ticket holder since day one I am throwing in the towel if the Bucs do nat make the playoffs wiht home field advantage. I have had it.
  • avatar


    Good job Haley of getting the usual suspects among the loyal fan base going. I believe the Revis trade is inevitable. I also believe that the signing of Brian Leonard is a signal that Blount will be going to the Jets in the deal. I will be thrilled to have Revis, I just hope that the Bucs don't go wobbly and give up a #1, any #1. Speaking of Brian Leonard, you guys and girls, will like him. Is he as talented as Blount? No. Is he reliable and dependable? Absolutely. Just a solid, hard nosed and intelligent player who is a jack of a trades,master of none type. This pick-up doesn't surprise me because he's a real Schiano guy.
  • avatar


    I love this time of year when we can all critique what comes down to basically a crap shoot. Someone mentioned above how exited we were at this time last year with all the big time signings only to wind up 7-9. The most optimistic factor this year other than the Goldson signing is the potential that Carl Nicks, Davin Joseph, Clayborne, and several 2012 rookies will have another years experience under their belt. Expect V Jackson and Mike Williams to perform. Add a couple 2014 draft picks to the list and push Freeman a little and I think the playoffs are not an unrealistic possibility. A lot of teams have to play certain positions by committee ( CB,DL) but I see an attempt to improve rotations and depth which is really the essence of any successful season developing in 2013. With all the intangibles and unknowns out there lets see where we are in late December. Go Bucs.......
  • avatar


    Marinii, I am right with you.
  • avatar


    Last offseason the fans were plenty excited and it only led to a 7-9 record. As long a we make the playoffs no one will care. As for Wright, I can't imagine why he would still want to play here. If he did re-sign I could see him half-assing on the field since he's only getting paid half as much money.
  • avatar


    JonnyG: Is that the same Rick Stroud who has made other less than accurate predictions such as the Bucs cutting Talib last off-season? Stroud wasn't too far out on a limb to predict the Bucs will draft a CB from one of our home state teams. Horse is a big FSU fan who doesn't like Rhodes. Is he worthy of the 13th pick? What's your take Horse?
  • avatar


    scubog, Rhodes is not my choice because he is not very good at one on one. He is more like a zone CB. From what I have seen of Rhodes for four years at FSU is that he is very penalty friendly. He reminds me of Biggers, not Talib; look what that got us.
  • avatar

    good article Haley. What are your thoughts on the Bucs trading up to get Dee Milliner if the Revis deal doesn't materialize?
  • avatar


    When the season starts and all of Domink and Scianos plans are done, I cant wait till all of the same people that are trash talking become the same people that are saying what a good job they done.
  • avatar


    Fair point Jhawk. I just hope it puts more people in the seats. Those empty seats do get embarrassing. And BTW Mr. Glazer, I do realize that you are working on reduced pricing to entice better attendance but, $25 for parking in your market area is ridiculous. That's the same price they get at Giants Stadium, which is located in one of the wealthiest markets in the world.
  • avatar

    Hey guys read this article written by Eric Wright. http://www.ericwright21.com/blog/introducing-dashon-and-offseason-training Bet you will find it interesting. Gives me a little more respect for him.
  • avatar


    didn't even know he had a site, i hope those are his words and not some guys spinning for him. good read thanks bucdiezel
  • avatar

    I watched "Path to the Draft" last night and Rick Stroud of the St Pete times has the Bucs taking Xavier Rhodes in the draft interesting to note since I have been calling this for two months now.
  • avatar


    I don't think we should give the Jets a first or second DAY draft pick for Revis. Here's the deal I like: Eric Wright, Blount, Meredith and the 4th round pick we got from New England for Talib. That would give the Jets a pretty decent replacement CB, a former 1,000-yard RB, a decent and versatile o-lineman, and a 4th round pick for a recovering-from-injury, mid-career player that they want to get rid of anyway. And for those of you screaming at your computer screens that the Jets would never do that, I say maybe you're right and, if so, fine. I'm perfectly willing to wait until Revis hits free agency next year when we won't have to give the Jets any compensation at all.
  • avatar


    Horse.. I'm with you on not giving the Jets a 1st in any year but I think Dominik is going too. He has backed himself into a corner by not picking up a corner in F/A.
  • avatar

    for better or worse I don't think Dom feels he is in a corner. Wright, Barber and a drafted CB is ok with me if we don't get Revis. What's to say the Bucs don't trade up and take Dee Milliner if they can't convince the Jets to deal.
  • avatar


    Just read on bucsnation we signed Steve Smith (not that one) the other Steve Smith. The one that played for the Giants a couple years back and played with the Rams. Had a good year as a slot receiver with the Giants before he got injured. Sully was his receivers coach when he was with the Giants.
  • avatar


    We need to address CB early in the draft, we need to address DT early in the draft, we need to address DE early in the draft, we need to address .... There is only so much 'early in the draft' to do the addressing. That is the concern.
  • avatar


    Good article. I was just going to post a NEW TOPIC called Boring Boring Boring. However, as a result of your comments which make a lot of sense, I am enlightened. After all this to do tho, if we don't sign Revis who I think we are all sick of already before he's even taken a snap....it will empty seats come the season. Ok. Now I have a little faith....
  • avatar

    even if we don't add Revis and keep Wright we will be much better because of Gholson. If you remember, the way we got beat was always over the top. I am proud of how our rookie corners did last year. We did not get hurt too much in the short passing game. But we got bombed quite frequently. Now, at the very least, we can out a top on those offenses, like other defenses did us the last few games.
  • avatar


    I see it differently than some of my fellow Posters? We have released players that we now know will not fit in our scheme and there's nothing wrong with that. We got a very solid Safety which immediately up grades the Defense. It makes sense to bring Wright back under a new contract with incentives. I also believe that we do have the new CB's from last year could be starting this year or at least be more involved in the nickel packages. I believe we have done okay so far. We had a much further road to travel on than San Francisco or Seattle so I wouldn't be judging the Bucs on that situation. The Revis deals has me concerned the most? I am totally against having to ever give any 1st or 2nd round pick to the Jets; maybe a 3dr round this year and a fourth next year. I just don't see Revis at this point in time. We need to stay with the plan which was to succeed with drafting solid players and signing key Free Agents when it made since. Our first priority is the DL then CB, then TE.
  • avatar


    IMO they should get STAR in the 1st. Trade for Revis and get Wright on the cheap and another CB in the 2nd. Then we need to pick up a few other players in the 2nd wave of F/A. With the trade for Revis taking our 1st next year we are ALL IN THIS YEAR. PLAYOFFS OR BUST!
  • avatar


    I too believe in the slow/steady approach, but I think going forward with Wright is a mistake and counting on Barber coming back might be one too. It just seems like we are putting a lot of eggs in the Revis basket, and even if we get that basket, we still don't have a starting DT, a starting SLB, a starting TE. That's a lot to expect from a draft where we may be missing a 1st or 2nd round pick. And this idea of trading away all our picks next year is crazy. Only thing that might do is save Dominicks job. And that shouldn't be the #1 goal of a GM.
  • avatar

    I don't like trading away our picks either. but look at it this way; if Revis was in the draft, and you know what you know about him now, would you give up a two and your 1 to move up and draft him in the first? Its basically the same thing thats happening. What are the chances that you will find a player in the draft that can step in and take away half the field.
  • avatar


    IronMan- If more people looked at this basic approach I think more would be on board with what I consider to be a no brainer. There is no corner (including Millner) that is Revis in this draft. If we have Revis taking away half the field and eliminating the Juilo Jones, Steve Smiths, and Colstons of the world from a gameplan then we should have more flexibility in play calling and will have more help to offer the other side of the field.
  • avatar

    Last year I was very excited when the Bucs came out of the gate and signed 3 free agents, Jackson, Nicks and Wright. However, there was a lot of free agent movement after the draft and some nice pieces were let go. So, if you are getting impatient; don't I like the way things are developing this year. The Bucs are not intent on signing mediocre talent to start on our team. They don't go by consensus and they don't go for all the hype. They go after the best payer at that particular position. And they will not overpay I like that.
  • avatar


    It looks like we're more interested in "building depth" than building a championship team. Might it be because we're trying to save money ? Is San Francisco " building depth" ? How about Seattle ? Wright isn't a championship quality cornerback. Now that he screwed up, maybe we can get him cheap. We're making a mistake if we think we can fill our huge defensive holes mainly through the draft or by "building depth" Come on everybody ! Either we're afraid of making free agent mistakes or we're trying to save money. Even if we somehow sign Revis, we're not close to a championship quality defense.
  • avatar


    Nate Kaeding? They haven't signed Kaeding. Unless you're breaking news here.... I hadn't heard this and he doesn't appear on the roster at Buccaneers.com
  • avatar


    @BuccaneerNW The Nate Kaeding signing just happened today. It was reported by his agent.
  • avatar


    Slow but sure wins the race? Although I too am disappointed with the apparent lack of progress so far, I really can't fault their approach. They have tried to add players that could provide the depth we need and hopefully the draft and additional post draft or training camp cast-offs will get us the rest. I still hope they don't give up draft picks for Revis. I hope they resign Wright and get a good rookie CB or two, plus a DT and DE in the draft. Remember we don't have to be the best defense, just not the worst like last year and we will have an improved season. That should be enough to go from 7-9 last year to the playoffs this year and when you reach the playoffs anything can happen!
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