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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Sign him to a one-year deal and draft his replacement.
Agree, we have the money and a one year deal it won’t hurt to overpay a bit.
I’m all for improving our O-Line, but we need to be sure were not replacing Oniel Cousins with Oniel’s cousin. PFF grades Conolly as one of the worst OGs in the NFL last year. Maybe that was a fluke, but we should not overpay for an over the hill lineman because he has name recognition and we are desperate to sign a stopgap.
Be careful Bucs, sometimes It’s better to pay and play a less experienced guy with upside than to pay big dollars for a more experienced guy that is clearly going down hill!
Your right mac, after reading up on this guy we need to cancel the visit. What is Licht thinking? Stating to have my doubts about Licht. Looks like he might be in panic mode. Everyone that NE let’s go is done, need to stay away from their players that are on the market or trading with them. We have never won a deal with them and Mankins is a shell of what he once was.
I agree KINDERRT, not sure how good he actually is, but I think I would rather try and get B. De La Puente(sp) instead of Connolly. They are both vets with experience, but De LaPuente would come much cheaper and both have experience at C and G. At least if he is a flop, he would not be as expensive as Connolly would be. The only Patriot I would take a chance on is S Ridley. I think he has some talent and the only reason he is out on the FA market is that he was in the doghouse and couldn’t get out. Anyone else that the Pats let go is usually already a flop or balancing on the edge of the cliff.
I really hope we load up on O-line in the draft. The only way I want Connolly is if he signs a cheap deal (no way that will happen) and is willing to teach our rookies how life is in the NFL in the trenches. He can be our veteran back-up for insurance. I hope we go QB, then AJ Cann or Erving (hopefully 1 of them will still be there), if not, L Tomlinson. Then with the 3rd pick, T Sambrailo or C Ogbuehi. That will give us a vet back-up and a good young G and LT to groom for the future and protect our QB.
I don’t care who the pick, but I am hoping that for once their picks actually pan out and turn into starters and solid back ups. I think they are due, after the horrible drafts of late.
I’m not in favor of picking any OL over 32 years old because we’ll be replacing him within a year. Mankins is okay and I know we are overpaying him, but he will still is okay; Connolly we don’t know if he would be okay because Brady knew what his OL limitations were.
Tampa is looking at all Veterans FA who could help the bucs,I’d hope he signs with Tampa. go bucs
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