PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature this year, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered about the Bucs by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions and our message boards using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question: All the talk is about Doug Martin. What is your take? Can he regain Pro Bowl form, will he be back in 2017?
Answer: Well with his salary guaranteed for 2017, my first inclination would be he will be back. Of course Jason Licht hasn’t been afraid to cut players and still pay them while they sit at home, or move on to other teams with the Bucs still owning them money (Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson).
However, with that said, I do not at this point think the Buccaneers are anywhere near done with Martin. For whatever reason, and it has been debated numerous times over the last two week, Martin hasn’t looked like the same back that finished 2015 as the league’s second leading rusher. And while he has been in the league for five seasons, he has only played two complete 16 game seasons. So I personally don’t believe his struggles are because he is washed up, or has lost a step.
We asked Dirk Koetter on Monday about Martin’s future this upcoming game against the Panthers and even moving forward into the future, but he was fairly evasive, not wanting to tip his hand to the Panthers. It will definitely be an interesting situation to watch as we head into the offseason. The NFL is crazy though. Martin could get the start Sunday against the Panthers and run for 190 yards and three touchdowns and everyone would forget there was even a controversy in 2016, or he could be a healthy scratch again, and the buzz and debate increases until training camp when we get our next look at him. All I can say for sure is, stay tuned.
Question: Where will the Bucs likely to be slotted in the draft? Who are the most likely targets?
Answer: With a middle of the pack record (8-8 or 9-7) they will have a middle of the pack draft selection spot. As of now it could be anywhere from around the No. 11 pick or maybe as high as in the low-20’s. Obviously the final spot will be determined next weekend when all of the games become finals and then the strength of schedule factors are weighed in as well.
As far as targets, it is impossible to say at this point, but if you poll most Bucs fans, they would want additional offensive weapons for Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter. And I am guessing Koetter will be making that case to GM Jason Licht. And really offensively, there isn’t a position other than quarterback that would be off the table when the draft comes around in April.
It became apparent when the Bucs lost Cameron Brate in the second half on Saturday that tight end is a need. When they lost Vincent Jackson, receiver is a need. When Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Martin went down, all of a sudden it was clear they could use depth at running back. Same with most all the positions on the offensive line.
I would say it will be best player available but if it is close as far as the rating goes, the team will look to add an offensive player.
Question/comment: No excuses, but I think JW is trying to give his players a chance and for the most part it hasn’t materialized.
Answer: This is a difficult question to comment on, as my known affection for FSU apparently makes me biased, according to some. But as I type this in the media room right now, there is conversation among three other writers, who aren’t FSU fans, about Winston and how the play off the offensive line, along with the lack of a running game handicapped Winston to the point where he was forced to do too much all season. Basically saying Winston got little help this season. And I agreed with them.
Of course Winston made plenty of errors on his own, but there are pieces missing that the Bucs front office needs to fill to really get a true assessment of how good Winston can actually can be. The one thing I am certain of is, Winston will work hard to do everything he can to get better. That’s in his DNA.
Question: Did the play of B.Myers on Sunday fault the TE position into one of need for the Buccaneers?
Answer: Dirk Koetter said it on Monday – players are backups for a reason. They aren’t as good as the players in front of them. And that was the case on Saturday night after the Brate injury, or the Demar Dotson injury and so on. As much as I like Brandon Myers, he isn’t Cameron Brate, and it was obvious in the red zone against the Saints that Myers and Winston do not have the same chemistry. But as Dirk also pointed out injuries happen and you have to adapt.
But yes, I think tight end is absolutely on the wish list for the Bucs this offseason, either via free agency or the draft possibly both.
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@example.com
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