The Buccaneers could be addressing a major area of need this week as free agent guard Dan Connolly is scheduled for a visit on Tuesday, according to Ross Jones of FoxSports.com. Connolly will likely come into town Tuesday afternoon or evening after the Bucs’ brass returns from the Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.
A four-year starter at Southeast Missouri State, Connolly signed with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in 2005 before arriving to New England in 2008. Over the last six seasons, he’s started in at least 13 games for the Patriots and was named one of the team captains in 2014. The Bucs need help at right guard and could use a good, experienced backup center behind Evan Dietrich-Smith to replace Garrett Gilkey.
Tampa Bay isn’t the only team interested in Connolly, however. Ian Rapoport reported that the Seahawks, Bears and Dolphins could also be in the hunt, as well as the Patriots who have expressed interest in retaining the 32-year old lineman. Jason Licht’s ties to New England could help the Bucs’ chances – like it did with Logan Mankins – but it certainly won’t be an easy sign given the other teams competing.
Knocking off an incumbent is always difficult, especially when they’re coming off a Super Bowl victory. In addition to that, the Patriots have already lost out on a few of their own free agents, so Connolly would seem to be a priority at this point. Then there’s the NFC champion Seahawks who are looking for their replacement at center after shipping Max Unger to New Orleans as part of the Jimmy Graham trade.
But after a season in which the Bucs offensive line ranked 29th in pass protection, it goes without saying that Tampa Bay should make a strong push for Connolly. And given the likelihood that they’ll have a rookie quarterback next season, it would probably be a good move to add a veteran instead of relying completely on the draft.
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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