The Bucs have taken a few hits at the receiver position this season.
With a 3-3 record, and currently just a game back in the NFC South, Tampa Bay feels like it can make a run at the playoffs and could look to fill a hole to position itself even better.
Already without pass-catching tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, released in September after DUI charge, the Bucs learned that Vincent Jackson had suffered a season-ending ACL injury and that Louis Murphy had suffered a setback in his own, year-long ACL recovery, all in a matter of two weeks. As such, speculation that the Bucs could be in the market for a veteran wide receiver at the trade deadline (Nov. 1 at 4 PM) makes sense.
Could Bears’ receiver Alshon Jeffery or 49ers’ wideout Torrey Smith be wearing red and pewter by this time next week?
Again, even the players reported available add up. Verner, a high-prized free agent addition in 2014, has been demoted to fourth cornerback and played just 27 percent of snaps on defense this year. After losing his job on the outside to Vernon Hargreaves III in training camp, Verner then lost the rotational nickel role to Jude Adjei-Barimah.
Banks, meanwhile, has not played a defensive snap this season. The former second-round pick has been relegated to special teams only, and even there he’s played sparingly (25 percent of snaps). Banks didn’t play at all in San Francisco last Sunday.
As La Canfora notes, Banks would be the more affordable option for another team. He’s slated to earn $1.5 million in the final year of his rookie contract, while Verner is set to make $6.75 million in the third year of his four-year, $25.75 million deal.
Smith, 27, is a former second-round pick of the Ravens in 2011. In four years in Baltimore he never missed a game, catching 213 passes for 3,591 yards and 30 touchdowns. While Smith has tailed off a bit in San Fran – 46 catches for 832 yards in 19 starts – he’s a 4.41 receiver, and the Bucs could use that kind of speed. This season Smith, who’s set to earn $4.5 million in the second year of his five-year, $40 million deal, has caught 13 passes for 199 yards and two scores.
As for Jefferey, a 4.48 receiver, he would probably be a more expensive option for Tampa Bay. The 6-foot-3 pro is playing on a franchise tag this season, which means the Bucs would likely need to negotiate a long-term deal if they were to trade for him. Adding to the improbablity that a deal would get done with Chicago is the fact that Jeffery would become a free agent next offseaon, meaning the Bears would earn a compensatory draft pick in 2017, possibly as high as a late third-rounder. Therefore the price tag for 2016 would be higher, and parting with a second-rounder may be a deal-breaker for Tampa Bay. Ian Rappoport of NFL Media said it’s “essentially unprecedented” to sign a franchise player.
For what it’s worth, though, here’s a brief look at Jeffery’s stats to this point in his career.
Drafted in the second round in 2012, the South Carolina product has 284 career receptions for 4,248 yards in four and a half seasons. After eclipsing 1,000 yards in 2013 and 2014, however, Jeffery missed significant time in 2015 with shoulder and groin injuries. He still managed 54 catches for 807 yards in just nine starts, nonetheless.
Both the Bears and 49ers sit at 1-6, looking like teams poised to start the rebuilding process early. That said, other teams should be linked to Smith and Jeffery in the coming days. But if La Canfora’s reports are true, then the Bucs are strong contenders to land one.
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.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org