The Buccaneers organization feel pretty good about the left side of their offensive line.
With the re-signing of tackle Donovan Smith, guard Ali Market locked up for the next few years, and center Ryan Jensen, a big free agent signing last year entering his second season in Tampa Bay, new line coach Joe Gilbert rests pretty easy at night.

That is until the tremors awaken him thinking about the poor right guard play in 2018. The Buccaneers could still address the position further, but they took a step in the right direction on Friday with a report the team plans to sign former Cardinals guard Earl Watford.


Watford was a fourth round selection in the 2014 NFL Draft out of James Madison by Arizona where he played under Bruce Arians until 2016. From Phoenix he went to Chicago before returning to Arizona, then Chicago then finally the Browns last season.

The Bucs are still high on second year player Alex Cappa who struggled as a rookie in 2018. The thought is Cappa will be given a fair shot to earn a starting role, but the organization couldn’t put all their eggs in the Cappa basket, and Watford gives them an alternative and competition.

Last year’s starter, Caleb Benenoch struggled as a starter last season and is expected to be moved to tackle to provide depth and possibly challenge incumbent Demar Dotson.

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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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 protected]

28 COMMENTS

  1. Anyone over Benenoch, I’ll take…

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    Rating: +34. From 36 votes.
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  2. I think Benenoch didn’t get good coaching. I suspect he’s a better player than fans give him credit for being because Warhop was trash as a offensive line coach. He still may be a decent player and perhaps the future right tackle.

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    Rating: +4. From 34 votes.
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  3. OG Earl Watford is an inexpensive depth signing that knows what Arians and Goodwin likes in OL and can help the rest of line learn. Evan Smith is coming off hip surgery so it gives the Bucs another veteran guard.

    Bruce is putting the band back together again. Watford will be the third player from the 2013 draft class that will be on the Bucs this year. Bucs now have three members of that draft class, which Arians and Licht worked together on – LB Kevin Minter, OG Earl Watford, and RB Andre Ellington.

    According to Greg Auman, Watford is on his fifth team in less than two years. Signed with Jaguars in 2017, cut and returned to Cardinals. Signed with Bears in 2018, cut and landed with the Browns. Watford has more travel stamps than a piece of European luggage. lol. To be fair, not very good at LT, but may be serviceable at right OG because he knows the Arians offense well.

    We shouldn’t be too concerned with this signing as Arians is just plugging holes with the goal of shortening the learning curve which I agree with. He will have 7 or 8 new players from the draft to contend with plus getting all the rookies from last year to learn the Arians system. Many of the players that are being signed and are on the current roster will not be here week one regular season. With one exception they are all one year agreements. Go Bucs!

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  4. Hopefully the flood of offensive linemen has started. We have holes to fill on the right side and we need depth. As SR would say…..Let the flood start!

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    Rating: +14. From 14 votes.
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  5. The misleading article title suggests we actually addressed the offensive line problems. This signing is a Band-Aid nothing more.

    The only reason he could have a chance to start here is that Ben stinks and Cappa (last year’s 94th overall pick, think about that) remains a complete ? going into year two.

    We need to draft both an OT and an OG, and not with late round picks (definition of insanity…).

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    Rating: +4. From 24 votes.
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  6. A move in right direction but they need more. Benenoch stinks. He had same coach as Marpet, who didn’t stink. Cappa could beat out horrible Benenoch last year. The right side this line is not good and weak. The starters stink let alone the “depth” behind them. Keep flooding the line need couple more starters. Dotson stink too and supposedly wasn’t hurt. Will see soon enough, but I’m really tired of watching this O line hold back this team, offense, run game, and QB. Been not good for years now.

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  7. Meant Cappa “couldn’t” beat out terrible Benenoch last year.

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  8. Decent depth signing I guess. And for culture change.

    We still need 5 draft picks to be legitimate starters to address big holes on the roster; RG, RT, LB, CB, DL. Somewhere along the way I think we’ll find safety and RB help. But both of those positions are more dependent on strength in the trenches.

    Not sure what happened to Cappa last season. Could it be that we draft guys that have played one position their entire careers and try to get them to play a new one in the Pro’s? Cappa’s a tackle, not a guard. Same with Benenoch.

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    Rating: +17. From 17 votes.
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  9. Good move, we need to address the Oline as we did the Dline last offseason. I’m a little worried with the whole “Arizona South” theme that’s developed though. We saw this with Koetter and all his Atlanta and Jacksonville connections. I give BA a lot more benefit of the doubt though as he’s proven his worth multiple times already

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    Rating: +4. From 10 votes.
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  10. Macabee, where do you think cuts for more Cap money will come because it appears we are far from finished in acquiring more players in Free Agency?
    I just don’t see the value in Gholston. Same for McCoy, but I’m good if we kept him, but for a restructured contract for two years; first year guaranteed at 10 million, second year 6 million. This would allow him to retire with the Bucs.
    I don’t see value in keeping Spence since he can’t get around OL. I know I’m sticking my neck out on him, but why waste the spot when the past is his proof he needs to go to another league.

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    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
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    • I agree, keep McCoy on a restructured deal but I think having a run stuffing DL like Gholston is a key piece in Bowles’ defense so we might keep him. Should definitely restructure his deal if he stays though. As for Spence, I feel like he was always out of place as a 4-3 DL so maybe he’ll have a resurgence as a 3-4 OLB. If not, I think we can cut him with no cap hit next year

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      Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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  11. Horse, the reason they might keep Gholston is because I tho k he is slated to make 3.5 mill this year and that is on the cheap side for DL.
    The same goes for Spence. He is still on his rookiie deal. You can be assured though if neither show enough in preseason they will both be gone.
    Why would you think McCoy would want to retire as a Bus. He certainly isn’t revered like Lee Roy Salmon or even grudgingly appreciated like Warren Sapp.
    My belief is McCoy wouldn’t take a pay cut in hopes of getting released thereby allowing him to work out a deal with a more playoff friendly team.

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    Rating: +5. From 7 votes.
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  12. Horse, I’m going to flat out say, I have no idea. I did a post on cap possibilities a while back after the Vinny Curry cut and so far they have cut DJax and Unrein. I am surprised that they have made as many signings as they have without further cuts. It looks like they are taking it a player at a time. As you suggest, it appears they are reluctant to restructure high dollar players by paying bonuses in cash and spreading those amounts over the life of the contract. Remember too that they only have to be under the cap by the top 51 salaries on the team.

    I have no sources, but I’ve read that they may add an experienced RB and an experienced CB. These adds may come after the draft in the third wave of free agency. My fuzzy math says at present they do not have the projected 9mil they will need to cover the draft pool.

    That tells me that something must happen by draft night, perhaps even on draft night to address cap space by cut or trade. I won’t name names, but they may be having second thoughts about Gholston and Spence if they are going more 3-4 defense. You’ve heard the expression “sumpn’s gotta give”, well it does but I’m not the one to call it my friend! Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +7. From 11 votes.
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  13. I like this signing…keep building the trenches

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    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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  14. Who was it that said it takes three years to develop an offensive lineman?

    This move hints to me that we won’t be drafting OL with the first pick and maybe not even till the third pick or later.

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    Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
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  15. Looks like nothing more than a Training Camp guy with whom the coaching staff is familiar and at least has starting experience. I’d be cautious about dating a lady who had been married five times, albeit twice to the same guy. Looks like a “job jumper” to me. Why is that?

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  16. A latteral move to provide depth in camp another day nothing much to report Good starters have been lost and other teams backups to replace them at every move this free agency.

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  17. Bucs are out of cap space. This signing puts them at the limit. To add anyone else, someone has to be traded or released. Interesting fact…The Bucs have the 2nd highest amount of money going to the defensive line in the NFL. Here is a positional cost analysis by Spotrac.com. Very interesting breakdown and NFL ranks…

    https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/tampa-bay-buccaneers/positional/

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  18. I’m starting to think McCoy is a goner, barring a significant restructure. Per Spotrac, we only have $1.8 million in space left (which isn’t enough for the rookie pool, let alone the additional free agents we’re supposedly looking at), and cutting low-hanging fruit like Gholston and Spence won’t be enough to clear what’s needed.

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  19. @tpeluso The watford, Nunez-Roches, and devante Harris contract amounts aren’t listed on spotrac yet. The 1.8m in space is all but gone when you factor in that each player signed for approximately $1m and supplanted a $500k salary in the top 51.

    Regarding Spence, he has “dead” cap space of almost $700k. Even if the Bucs cut him and his $1.9m salary, he still counts against the cap. So Spence would only save the Bucs about $1m.

    Cut or trades are definitely coming. I’m thinking the Bucs will want about $13-$15m to sign rookies and maybe a veteran DB.

    Brate($7m), Gholston($3.75), E.Smith($2m) = $12.75m

    GMC($13m)

    JPP($14.9m)

    Lavonte David($9.75m)

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  20. Zero chance of JPP or David being touched. JPP was our best defender last season and David is needed for SOME form of continuity in the LB locker room.

    Forgot about Evan Smith’s $2 million, he’s almost certainly a goner too, but again, there’s not enough low-hanging fruit without doing something with McCoy or Brate, and of the two, McCoy is the more vulnerable because of the bigger contract and his age.

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  21. With all the love for GMC in Tampa for whatever reason, I would guess that trade values would be based on production and supply/demand. That said I would guess JPP has the most trade value, Brate 2nd, David 3rd and GMC 4th or next to nothing. It’s a deep draft at DT.

    If Tampa fans and media keep begging the Bucs to keep McCoy and talking up his supposed worth, the Bucs just might. Someone with a big contract will be moved though.

    Keeping McCoy over anyone on that list seems dumb to me, but I’m nobody.

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    Rating: +1. From 3 votes.
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  22. As it stands now any FA additions would push us above the cap limit (factoring in rookies), so something would need to be done to move money out.

    Per Greg Auman on saving money through restructure (Marpet bonus due today), “If Bucs are looking to restructure any deals to open cap space, one of the safer options would be converting guard Ali Marpet’s $7.5 million roster bonus (due Sunday) into a signing bonus. Pro-rating that would free up $6 million in cap space at minimal risk.”

    Per Overthecap.com on moving McCoy, “This has been rumored since seasons end so I am including him here even though McCoy is still a really good player. Moving him seems to be more about saving money than anything else. With three years left on his contract at around $13M per year McCoy should have trade value if the Bucs are patient and wait for a bit. Hes a shade older than Geno Atkins and Jurrell Casey but Id think a new deal would fall between those two and they are over $15M a year so a trade makes sense.”

    Brate’s trade potential would be elevated should Gronk decide to hang’em up.

    So, apart from deciding on the Marpet bonus due today (if it’s not already too late), and the Bucs hate pushing money backwards, it will require some patience in order to see what becomes of McCoy and Brate. JPP and David going no where.

    So, the hypothetically the options would be, do you move McCoy (or restructure Marpet and move Brate) to bring in a Mo Claiborne/Isaiah Crowell, or keep McCoy & Brate and draft Amani Oruwariye/Mile Sanders?

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  23. @spartan01 Bucs need $9.5m for rookies. They are at $1.8m in cap space before the Watford, Nunez-Roches, and Harris deals are tallied. That means they are at 0. That also means they still need to clear $9.5 off the books, just to sign rookies. If they want to add another vet QB, RB, or CB in free agency, that’s even more space needed. Marpet’s deal is less than 1 year old. I would be shocked if they went back and reworked it and like you stated the bonus hits today anyway.

    This team is in rebuild mode, not championship or bust mode. They aren’t a player away. Dump the aging players with large contracts who have underperformed for years and reload with fresh blood in the front seven.

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  24. As Bucs fans, we can jabber, speculate, and our “expert” opinions. We should just sit back and see what the professional football minds do. The coaching staff is new, and have all had success elsewhere. Wait and see

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  25. That’s what I’ve learned to do Alan. Everyone likes to speculate a bit and play amateur GM, but some of these folks are over the top with their cyber lectures and retorts to nearly every comment. They must get all giddy when a new comment pops up so they can grab their hat and spring to their keyboard.

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  26. Benenoch a challenger ? For what – You are the weakest link maybe ?

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  27. Drafted player cap hits don’t count the same way that veteran players do…

    “The second thing that confuses people is the amount of cap space required to fit in a rookie class. This is probably the biggest mistake made regarding rookie salaries and their role in cap management. Usually someone will see that rookie salaries are expected to total $6 million and then make the assumption that the team needs $6 million in cap space to sign their rookies. That’s not really correct.

    During the offseason NFL roster expand to 90 players and only the top 51 players count against the salary cap. Every rookie that is signed will either replace a player currently in the top 51 or not count enough against the cap to be in the top 51, in which case only their prorated bonus money will count against the cap. This is why it is important to understand the concept of effective cap space.”

    https://overthecap.com/explaining-the-nfls-rookie-salary-cap/

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