Bucs DT Chris Baker & WR DeSean Jackson - Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
Over on NFL.com this week, the staff of writers and broadcast personalities are going through each division around the league, giving the teams within them offseason grades and early predictions for 2017.
On Thursday, Chris Wesseling wrote his offseason overhaul for the NFC South, stating that it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who ‘struck gold’ this offseason, starting with the acquisition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
Peppers’ homecoming and Dontari Poe‘s arrival in Atlanta notwithstanding, Tampa Bay’s acquisition of Jackson was the highlight of free agency. After watching a declining Vincent Jackson hold the passing attack back the past two years, the Bucs added a speedy playmaker to perfectly complement the playing style of big-bodied jump-ball specialist Mike Evans. Jackson is the most dangerous deep threat of his generation, helping his quarterbacks in Philadelphia and Washington to inflated numbers. With Adam Humphries also emerging as the answer in the slot, Jameis Winston finally has the well-rounded wide receiver corps necessary to reach his potential in his third season.
But Wesseling’s praise of the Bucs offseason didn’t stop there, he went on to stay that the biggest sleeper acquisition of the offseason also belong to the Buccaneers after bringing in defensive tackle Chris Baker on what some are calling the best discounted deal from free agency relative to how talented he is and the production he can bring.
Baker might not be a household name, but he’s been Washington’s most disruptive defensive lineman for the past two seasons. Similar to Titans Pro Bowler Jurrell Casey, Baker moves with uncanny agility for a 300-pound behemoth. He’s not only stout in the run game, but also puts heat on opposing passers, averaging 35 combined hits and pressures per season since moving from tackle to end in 2015. Including last year’s additions of Robert Ayers and Noah Spence, the Bucs have done an impressive job of transforming the defensive line from a weakness into a strength.
Wesseling also noted that the biggest lost from the division was the Saints trading Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots.
Though winning free agency is only the first phase for a good offseason, it seems as though Buccaneers fans aren’t the only ones starting to get excited about the early upgrades. The NFL Network panel is also predicting big things from this Tampa team in 2017 – perhaps a deep postseason run.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
and the safety from dallas. hes better then any safety on the team not named tandy
Agree, free agency has been great so far. Hope we can continue to solidify the defense in the draft…
Let’s get the season started!!!
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