PewterReport.com is beginning a new offseason feature, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Each week one of the questions used will earn the person who asked it a PewterReport.com T-shirt.
Answer: Very good question, and one that makes sense to ask. Sure the cornerback play was poor, but so was some of the play of Bucs’ safeties in 2015. Sometimes it is more obvious when a corner isn’t playing well as opposed to a safety. But they really do all go hand in hand and both the safeties and corners need to be on the same page to perform as one unit. That was part of the problem last season. Rarely did any unit on the defense seem to be in synch with their other units, and much of that may have been do to the fact their were three different position coaches in the secondary last season (Gil Byrd, Larry Marmie, Mikal Smith). Then add in Lovie Smith the defensive play caller, and Leslie Frazier the defensive coordinator and now all of a sudden there are five different voices, and a bunch of players afraid to make mistakes. And in all honesty the starting safeties and cornerbacks for next season could already be on the roster. Regardless, the Bucs front office will be bringing in plenty of new faces to shake things up and hope to get better production and depth that they had in 2015.
Answer: I don’t see them active like they were in Lovie Smith’s first season, where they signed a ton of high-priced, bigger-named free agents like Josh McCown, Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins and so on, and while the Bucs showed overall improvement last season, you can’t solve every problem and need with just the draft. Expect the Bucs to possibly pursue more of the middle-caliber type free agents, similar to what they did last season. Of course last season they also went after Greg Hardy, Trent Cole and a couple other big name guys, and there could be some interest in doing so again this year, depending on who hits the open market. But this team, and many really, have had very little success with the big named splash players in free agency. The most success seems to come from finding role players who maybe didn’t fit their prior team’s scheme. But the long-term multi-million dollar contract players haven’t worked out well here, plus this front office seems to have some draft mojo going right now with their last two drafts.
Answer: That is certainly a possibility, as is moving up. Bucs GM Jason Licht doesn’t have a problem with adding picks, or giving them up to go after a player they are targeting, and this year’s draft will be no different. Of course you need a dance partner and until the draft is underway, there is no way to tell who that might be. Most of the time, those scenarios play out when someone slips just a little, but a team picker much later really covets that guy. Then the phone starts ringing. And then you have to factor in if the Bucs love their potential No. 9 pick player as much as a team looking to move up does. Again, until the draft is underway there is no way to know if the Bucs will move up, or down, but both are realistic possibilities.
Answer: Dan thanks for the question. Yes Pewter Report’s Zach Shapiro will be in attendance, arriving this Wednesday. As far as making a huge jump, I would hope it would be both Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. While both had as solid rookie seasons, imaging if both went to the next level? Imagine if Jameis Winston consistently had an extra half second to scan the field, or deliver more deep balls. Imagine Doug Martin getting an even bigger crease to run through. To me if both of those players can make a huge jump, this offense will do some special things. As far as Brate goes, after a week in Mobile, Ala. for the Senior Bowl we learned the Bucs are super excited to see how Brate develops with another offseason and see what he can do in 2016.
Answer: That was easily the most posed question on Twitter to us last week, but one that is just speculation as far as an answer goes. I would venture to guess the Bucs have looked at all three and may bring one or two in for a visit, but we haven’t heard any major rumblings of such. And if the Bucs had high interest most likely that would have slipped out from one of the agents or something like that. As someone in the front office told me last season, “We look at every potential player available to see if they can make our roster better.” I don’t think anything has changed and if they think one of those three players can upgrade things then they will attempt to bring them in.