For this weekend’s Pewter Report Roundtable, the crew answers another tough question. This week’s prompt: two weeks into free agency, what is the Bucs biggest remaining offseason need?

DISCLAIMER: for this exercise we assumed that tight end Rob Gronkowski will eventually re-sign in Tampa Bay.

Scott Reynolds: Blaine Must Stay!

The Bucs’ biggest remaining offseason need might be re-signing defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Tampa Bay is razor thin at defensive line right now with Vita Vea, Will Gholston and reserve Rakeem Nunez-Roches. It also might be the running back room. Leonard Fournette is back, but there are depth concerns with only seldom-used Ke’Shawn Vaughn currently in the stable. But I’m going to go in a different, more obvious direction.

Bucs QB Blaine Gabbert

Bucs QB Blaine Gabbert – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It’s time to re-sign Blaine Gabbert, damnit. I want to see Gabbert back in Tampa Bay for a couple of reasons. First, aside from making the Bucs quarterback room that much more handsome, Gabbert knows Bruce Arians’ offense inside and out. He’s spent four years in it. The coaches laud Gabbert’s big arm, and his athleticism in and out of the pocket. If Tom Brady were to go down with an injury, the Bucs would stand a better chance of winning with Gabbert over the unproven Kyle Trask.

The second reason is that after Brady retires or leaves Tampa Bay, I’d be interested to see how Gabbert 2.0 fares after sitting and learning from the G.O.A.T. Gabbert has been Arians’ personal reclamation project for years. Could he be a late bloomer like Rich Gannon was in Oakland years ago? The third reason is that Gabbert could be a great measuring stick for Trask’s development. If the former second-round pick can’t beat out Gabbert for the backup job, that would be worrisome moving forward.

Matt Matera: Bucs Could Use Another D-Lineman Even If Suh Re-Signs

The Bucs have, for the most part, kept their defense intact for next season. Even after re-signing defensive end Will Gholston this week, there’s still a hole on the defensive line. Nose tackle Vita Vea does it all up front for the defense, but he needs a running mate with him.

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt

Georgia DT Devonte Wyatt – Photo by: USA Today

I know, I know – the odds are that veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will re-sign with the Bucs. I’m very much on board with this, as Suh has been great during his three seasons in Tampa Bay. He’s never missed a game and has recorded 112 tackles, 14.5 sacks, forced a fumble and has scored two defensive touchdowns. With that said, I still think the Bucs can add another piece to the interior defensive line that you know will be there for more than one year. The Bucs could move on from Steve McLendon this season, so whether it’s another veteran that’s ring chasing or drafting a prospect, there’s room.

If Suh is back for another season, I’d like for Tampa Bay to still get younger at the position through the draft. It’s threading the needle here, but they can find a player that can still make a splash in a limited role and then develop into a starter in a season or two. They can go in an earlier round with Devonte Wyatt, Jordan Davis or Travis Jones, or settle for a mid round pick with Perrion Winfrey. Either way, the Bucs could use an influx of youth up front. Tampa Bay has solid depth with Gholston and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. It would help if they just got a little bit more.

Jon Ledyard: 4-Man Pass Rush Must Improve In 2022

I wouldn’t mind the Bucs adding another guard or offensive weapon, but right now the majority of their offense seems set. Assuming Rob Gronkowski comes back, they’ll draft a tight end and running back at some point in the middle rounds. I wouldn’t rule out a wide receiver selection either, but clearly the team’s biggest remaining needs are not on offense. Instead, it’s the defensive side of the ball that needs some attention.

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It’s not the Bucs fault that quality defensive tackles in the draft have almost completely dried up for three straight years. This year’s class has a couple run-stuffing options, but the best 3-technique in Georgia’s Devonte Wyatt should be off the board by No. 27. As a result, the Bucs might have to get creative with how they find interior pass rush. This draft has several big edge defenders who could kick inside and play a versatile role in 2022. Tampa Bay saw the benefit of that last season, when Joe Tryon-Shoyinka played over guards with success.

Perhaps that’s a role Tryon-Shoyinka steps into again this year. Or perhaps the Bucs select Minnesota’s Boye Mafe or Houston’s Logan Hall early in the draft. Another option could be signing a veteran like Melvin Ingram or Justin Houston close to training camp. But the Bucs must improve their 4-man pass rush this season. And they can’t rely solely on Tryon-Shoyinka’s development to make that happen. Listening to HC Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht in Indy, it’s clear they are aware of this shortcoming. It’ll be interesting to see how they choose to address it this offseason.

J.C. Allen: Bucs Roster Still Lacks A True Strong Safety

The Bucs have been active in free agency this offseason, re-signing their own and bringing in new players. And there’s surely a few more dominoes to fall in the coming months. Locking up Carlton Davis, while re-signing William Gholston and potentially Ndamukong Suh, should ensure that the team’s defense largely remains intact for the 2022 season. However, the Bucs lost a pivotal part of their defense that hasn’t been replaced in hard-hitting strong safety Jordan Whitehead.

New Bucs S Logan Ryan

New Bucs S Logan Ryan – Photo by: USA Today

Tampa Bay has Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards and the newly signed Logan Ryan. But none project as strong safeties. Winfield could potentially fill that role, but he is already one of the league’s premier players at free safety. The Bucs want to use the Pro Bowler in a variety of ways, but not at the expense of his progression at free safety.  Edwards is more of a ballhawk than a hard hitter, and is probably suited best as the third safety in three safety packages. While Logan Ryan is a do-it-all player, he could see a majority of his snaps in the slot. The Bucs also have Ross Cockrell, who was cross-trained at the position during camp, but he’s more of a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option.

With the free agency market dried up at the position, the Bucs could look to the draft. Luckily it’s a pretty deep draft at the position. Georgia’s Lewis Cine is a popular pick in the first round and was featured in our latest mock. Other options, especially if the Bucs trade back into the second round, could be Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker or Baylor’s Jalen Pitre. In later rounds the Bucs could target Iowa’s Dane Belton, Auburn’s Smoke Monday, FAMU’s Markquese Bell and USC’s Isaiah Pola-Mao. With Edwards and Ryan set to be free agents in 2023, the Bucs need to add talent to the room. Preferably that will be a player who can let Winfield continue to flourish at free safety.

Josh Queipo: Fix That Kicking Game!

While some of my colleagues may identify tight as the biggest need due to Cam Brate being the current penciled-in starter with scant depth behind him. Others may say their confidence in the depth chart behind Leonard Fournette is lacking. Still others may identify the lack of interior pass rush ability as a desperate need. But I say these all take a backseat to another position group that has not been addressed this offseason. Yet, it desperately needs to be!

Bucs P Bradley Pinion

Bucs P Bradley Pinion – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

What is this weak spot? The kicking game. Last season, Ryan Succop hit on 83.3 percent of his field goal attempts. This is a solid, if unspectacular, number. However, looking into that number deeper you will see he was only 7 of 10 from 40-49 yards and missed his only attempt from 50 or beyond. And that gets us to his biggest area of opportunity. It’s not the kicks Succop is attempting that are costing the team points. It’s the kicks he doesn’t get to attempt because the team is acutely aware that he doesn’t have a strong enough leg that can swing games in the Bucs favor.

In addition to Succop’s range issues, the team also has a punter problem. Last year Bradley Pinion ranked 28th in the league (min. 45 punts) in punt average. That was dead last. Adjusting for net average, Pinion’s 38.9 average ranked 23rd. When combining touchbacks and punts that end up inside the 20 Pinion’s 44.6 percent rate was his best ranking at 18th. Now, when you look at Pinion’s un-guaranteed $2.9M cap hit this year and the fact that his AAV is the 6th highest in the league, you see that things just don’t match up. This roster is loaded on offense and defense. Why are we settling for an average-at-best kicking unit?

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Dman
Dman
3 months ago

C’mon guys, it’s time for defense. With the line up we have now we’ll have to score 50 points to win games. D line, LB, SS, CB. Draft needs to be D heavy.

76Buc
76Buc
Reply to  Dman
3 months ago

Dito Dman!

TBChucky
TBChucky
3 months ago

My list would be in this order: DT, LG, CB, RB, WR, SS, and we could definitely use an upgrade at KR, kicker, and punter.. Obviously with the right draft picks we could fill a lot of these holes. I’m hoping for one of the top 3 DTs to fall to us at 27, but it almost seems like the Bucs plan on just out scoring everyone with all the predraft attention they’re giving WRs.. Tom would be giddy to have a 1st round rookie as his WR4 in four wide sets. Excellent and exciting crop of WRs for sure.… Read more »

The Freeman
The Freeman
3 months ago

agree with most but… HELL NO TO SCOTT! the Gabbert jokes are funny but you takes it too seriously… first, it’s time to start developing Trask, need reps with 2nt team and to play in garbage time, sure we may need a better backup if TB12 was hurt butcan someone seriously believe we have more chances to win with Gabbert? i’m not against having Gabbert back to be the 3rd and only for vet minimum… don’t create a bigger salary cap mess for Gabbert, no other team think he’s a good backup! you want to pay for a good vet… Read more »

BucHarbour
BucHarbour
Reply to  The Freeman
3 months ago

Yeah, they need to get Trask as many reps as the backup as possible. I seriously doubt Gabbert is ever going to be the answer post TB12. We don’t need to go into another season wondering what Trask can or can’t do. Let him be the main backup in camp and get him a ton of work in the Preseason with the primary offensive players and their top backups. They drafted him because he fits this offense, so let him learn it under as much fire as possible so we aren’t caught with our pants down when Brady hangs it… Read more »

Horse
Horse
3 months ago

Based on draft picks in Rounds 1,2,3, I have slung for the bleechers! Rounds 1,2,3 DT, OLB, RB; We new blood? Rounds 4,7,7, WR, OL, OL. This is where luck happens.

Horse
Horse
3 months ago

We need more draft picks in rounds 1,2.3 arena. Who can we trade for more?

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

I’m not usually a fan of trading future picks for picks today. This year would be an exception. We could trade Devin White, as he’s probably overrated and didn’t play well last year, but then we’d need to find another ILB.

Knightrider79
Knightrider79
Reply to  buccaneerNW
3 months ago

So with holes we have you would trade a player to create more holes? And you’d do that to fill other holes? That makes zero sense

michael
michael
Reply to  buccaneerNW
3 months ago

I can’t get behind trading a player who has had a down year when he has 2 nearly Elite years before that. Doesnt sit right

matador
matador
Reply to  Horse
3 months ago

Gimme a T…gimme an R…

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
3 months ago

DT, SS, another DT, CB, RB, TE addressed in some order in the draft.

twspin
twspin
3 months ago

Well..at least 3 of you writers are echoing what a lot of us fans are starting to say..Its time to devote some resources to our Defense. I agree with Jon on the pass rush and Matt on acquisition of another D-lineman. If we don’t improve our pass rush then Yes JC, we sure as hell better get a much better Defensive backfield. Our Offense will be fine. Its our D or lack of, which is going to hold this good team back. I hate to keep bringing it up BUTT..The Rams truly showed us how important a Defense is to… Read more »

gcolerick
gcolerick
Reply to  twspin
3 months ago

They walloped us?….they beat us by a damn field goal at the very end of the game. That is not a walloping in my book.

twspin
twspin
Reply to  gcolerick
3 months ago

Don’t know where you grew up Butt, where I come from, A loss is an A..Whippin. You cannot spread Lysol on stank and hope for it to smell good all of a sudden.That super bowl game was lost in the 1st 2 qtrs by lack of a Defense..PERIOD. Kepp kidding yourself. Good for the soul.

James Taylor
James Taylor
Reply to  gcolerick
3 months ago

They were up 27-3 until their offense kept coughing up the football. There were four fumbles in the second half for us to even tie the game. If they had better ball security it’s not even a close game.

76Buc
76Buc
3 months ago

How quickly we forget the atrocious kicking of the past decade, including Meathead giving up a 2nd round pick for nothing. I’m tired of big-legged kickers who miss field goals at critical moments. Giver me a reliable kicker like we have.

Theydidwhat
Theydidwhat
3 months ago

DT, edge, S, back up LB are all needed and should be available at some point in FA or the draft, post June 1st. Pass D needs a better rush, disciplined #45, better communication and upgrades in the secondary. I like the two LB’s and safety from Georgia. How about Mathis, DT from Alabama? His #’s are good, but haven’t seen any game tape. Kick offs out of bounds….ARGH!

WVBuc
WVBuc
3 months ago

I would love to see Gabbert replace Brady after Tom has won his 4th Super Bowl in Tampa following eight age defying years leading the Bucs.

Knightrider79
Knightrider79
3 months ago

Scott, on one hand you say that “in case Brady goes down, it’d be best to play Gabbert so the team could win.” Then you say “if Trask can’t beat out Gabbert, then that will be worrisome.” So which is it? Is it we need Gabbert to be the reliable backup? Or is it that we need Trask to beat out Gabbert? Because it can’t be both.

warren
warren
Reply to  Knightrider79
3 months ago

I often agree with Scott, but he’s dead wrong on the “need” to sign QB Blaine Gabbert! First, Gabbard might “know the system, but he just stinks. He’s NEVER shown he’s even a half-way decent QB. Second, if Brady goes down, the Bucs are out of the playoffs & in such case, give Trask an opportunity.

matador
matador
3 months ago

We need two things to win games – Time for TB12 to throw and WRs who can get open. You could see it at the end of the last game, he was looking longingly for anyone, anyone, who was open. If the right player was available I would go WR first, then rotate to DL/OL/DB in whatever order makes sense given who is still available, and use very late picks or UDFAs for TE and RB. And of course it goes without saying I would trade Trask for two picks. We have one more shot, two at the most, at… Read more »

TBChucky
TBChucky
Reply to  matador
3 months ago

Why would a team trade two draft picks for an unknown commodity of a QB who has as many snaps in the NFL as a rookie?.. Why wouldn’t they just draft one and save a pick?

scubog
scubog
Reply to  TBChucky
3 months ago

Maybe the team evaluated Trask last season and determined he’s better than the 2022 rookie class.

fredster
fredster
3 months ago

Defense defense. I like Ledyards plan. Come on Scott, Gabbert is most important? Crazy talk. If Brady goes down it won’t matter who back up is. This defense stunk last year and has holes galore!

scubog
scubog
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

“Stunk”? Why don’t you look at the results and defensive standings instead of focusing on one play?

michael
michael
3 months ago

I think losing whitehead is going to be a much bigger deal than we all think. He was an absolute tone setter on defense. Honestly I think he WAS the physical and emotional catalyst on our team

Bucs828
Bucs828
3 months ago

This is the year to trade next year’s first for an impact player now. Wish there was room to get a DT or Oline guy from free agency who would take less for a shot at a championship.

James Taylor
James Taylor
3 months ago

I just hope they get one of those Bulldog defenders. They would do well to get Devonte Wyatt or Lewis Cine or even Nakobe Dean who could play that famous moneybacker role in the Todd Bowles defense.