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The Current State Of The Buccaneers

The Buccaneers overcame a brutal travel schedule created by the NFL that played a role in a disappointing 2-6 start in the 2019 season – the first with head coach Bruce Arians at the helm – to finish 5-2 down the stretch for a 7-9 record. While that is a two-game improvement over Tampa Bay’s 5-11 finishes to both the 2017 and ’18 campaigns, the Bucs had a chance to wind up with a 9-7 record, but dropped their two last home games against Houston and Atlanta.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images

Now Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and Arians need to make one of the biggest decisions in franchise history – to carry on with former 2015 first-round pick Jameis Winston or move in a different direction at quarterback. Winston is coming off a record-setting season in which he threw for 5,109 yards with 33 touchdowns, but also became the first QB in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions.

Not all of the Bucs’ nine losses were on Winston, but his seven pick-sixes last year certainly didn’t help, and set a dubious NFL record. Wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin each made it to the Pro Bowl along with outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the league with 19.5 sacks, which broke Warren Sapp’s franchise record of 16.5. Barrett was the best free agent signing in the NFL last year, and helped Todd Bowles’ 3-4 defense become a formidable unit by the end of the season after Tampa Bay’s young secondary got shredded in the first half of the year, but improved in December.

The Bucs recorded 47 sacks last year, which was the second-most in team history, and now Barrett, outside linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib are unrestricted free agents, along with defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, Beau Allen and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Aside from figuring out the QB position, Licht and Arians will attempt to re-sign nearly all of the free agents on the defensive side of the ball to keep the defense intact.

Other free agents on the Bucs offense include right tackle Demar Dotson, who will turn 35 this year, running back Peyton Barber and third-string receiver Breshad Perriman, who stepped up big down the stretch for Tampa Bay when Evans and Godwin saw their seasons come to a premature end in December due to hamstring injuries. There is a chance Dotson returns on a one-year deal to provide some veteran leadership and help groom a young offensive tackle as Tampa Bay is likely to address the position early in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Bucs WR Breshad Perriman

Bucs WR Breshad Perriman – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Barber likely won’t return unless for a cheap, one-year deal to provide competition in training camp because he knows the offense. He lost his starting job to Ronald Jones II last December and probably won’t have much of a market in free agency.

While Perriman had a career year in terms of production, there are two schools of thought on his potential return to Tampa Bay. First, he may have priced himself out of the Bucs’ reach and could fetch a deal worth in excess of $6 million that the team likely wouldn’t match. Or, with just half a season’s worth of production and a draft that is super deep at the receiver position, there might not be much of a market for Perriman as a result, and he could come back to the Bucs on a similar one-year, $4 million deal once again.

Explaining Pewter Report’s Bucs Battle Plans For The 2020 Offseason

PewterReport.com writers Scott Reynolds, Mark Cook, Jon Ledyard, Matt Matera and Jon Ledyard have devised their own Bucs’ Battle Plans For The 2020 Offseason that feature free agent signings, trades, roster moves and draft picks designed to aid Tampa Bay’s quest to end a playoff drought that has lasted since 2008. I’ve got the first Bucs’ Battle Plan, so let me know what you think of it in the comments section below.

Remember, these Bucs Battle Plans are how the PewterReport.com staff members would reshape the team this offseason – not necessarily what we think Tampa Bay will do in free agency and the draft, although there could be some overlap with certain players the team may be targeting.

The Bucs begin the 2020 offseason with approximately approximately $80 million in available salary cap space, according to OverTheCap.com. Salary cap information and contract data from both OverTheCap.com and Spotrac.com were used in the Bucs Battle Plan series.

Reynolds’ Bucs Battle Plan For The 2020 Offseason

I always try to keep my Bucs Battle Plan somewhat reasonable and realistic, almost trying to project what general manager Jason Licht would or could do. There is a part of me that wants to sign Titans right tackle Jack Conklin to replace Demar Dotson, but Licht wouldn’t have four offensive linemen making at least $10 million or more, so I’ll follow suit – even though I’ve been a big fan of Conklin’s since his days at Michigan State.

Bucs CB Jamel Dean

Bucs CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

And while I see the value of having a veteran cornerback on the team like Logan Ryan in case either Sean Murphy-Bunting or Jamel Dean have a sophomore slump, Licht believes in those young guys, in addition to third-year cornerback Carlton Davis, and doesn’t plan on signing a starting-caliber cornerback in free agency because doing so would stymie someone’s development.

It’s a risky move, but I’ll buy into that philosophy, too – perhaps against my better judgment. The fact that I’m a big believer in cornerbacks coach Kevin Ross also helps my decision-making process.

Buccaneers’ Trades

Trade For QB Derek Carr

The entire offseason I’ve been trying to believe that it’s more than a 50-50 proposition that Jameis Winston returns as the Bucs’ starting quarterback in 2020. If after five seasons Tampa Bay still doesn’t know if Winston can shake his knack for turning the ball over, then I’m thinking the team attempts to move on. Former Bucs head coach and current Raiders coach Jon Gruden always seems to like his quarterback, but never love him, and I believe that’s the case with Derek Carr.

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and QB Derek Carr

Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and QB Derek Carr – Photo by: Getty Images

Carr doesn’t take enough chances to make big plays, so Gruden either lands New England’s six-time Super Bowl champion QB Tom Brady or is intrigued enough by Winston or Marcus Mariota to want to deal Carr. I’ve liked Carr, a three-time Pro Bowler since his Fresno State days where he was slinging touchdown passes to Devante Adams, and even had him going to the Bucs in 2014 in one of PewterReport.com’s Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts.

Like Winston, Carr is tough and plays through pain. He’s only missed two games in six seasons in Oakland, and he’s coming off back-to-back years of throwing for 4,000 yards despite not having a big-play receiver to throw to since the Raiders traded Amari Cooper to Dallas in 2018. Carr has completed 69 percent of his passes on average over the past two years and has thrown for 143 touchdowns and 62 interceptions in his NFL career, including a career-high 32 TDs and only 13 INTs in 2015.

Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians wants fewer mistakes, turnovers and self-inflicted wounds from his team in 2020 as last year was the year the Bucs continued to beat the Bucs. Carr has the arm strength to push the ball down the field and make plays, evidenced by his 4.3 career TD percentage, but it’s his 1.9 career INT percentage that appeals to Arians and the Bucs. By comparison, Winston’s career averages are a 4.7 TD percentage and a 3.5 INT percentage.

What the Bucs will like about the 28-year old Carr is his contract for the next three years at some very reasonable salaries, including $18.9 million in 2020, followed by salaries of $19.525 million in 2021 and $19,777,519 in 2022. I pull the trigger to trade for Carr, sending Tampa Bay’s second-round pick to Las Vegas for Carr and the Raiders’ fourth-rounder. Carr will count for $19 million towards the Bucs’ 2020 salary cap, so Tampa Bay will have approximately $61 million left to spend in free agency.

Trade Away TE O.J. Howard

After seeing Arians’ offense in Tampa Bay for the first time, it’s clear that the passing game is run through Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, with third receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end O.J. Howard third and fourth on the pass-catching hierarchy. Howard, a former first-round pick, is not going to get enough targets in Arians’ scheme to justify paying him starter tight end money on his second contract, which will come up in 2022 after his fifth-year option in 2021.

Bucs TE O.J. Howard - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

So let’s make the move now and trade Howard to New England, which is a team desperate for tight end help. Howard could likely fetch a second-round pick, but I’ll take two of the Patriots’ third-round picks so I can draft two players for giving up Howard. Because Howard’s contract is fully guaranteed, he still counts against the cap in 2020, which is the final year of his contract.

Trade Down On Day 3 Of The Draft

Now armed with nine draft picks, including an expected fourth-round compensatory draft pick, I make a draft day trade with that comp pick, sending it to Chicago for two of the Bears’ fifth-round picks. Now I have the draft capital to acquire 10 players, including six players on Day 3 in a draft that is very deep at running back and wide receiver.

Bucs’ 2020 Draft Picks
Round 1 Bucs’ own selection
Round 2 Traded to Las Vegas for Carr
Round 3 Bucs’ own selection
Round 3 Acquired from New England for Howard
Round 3 Acquired from New England for Howard
Round 4 Bucs’ own selection
Round 4 Acquired from Las Vegas in Carr trade
Round 4 Traded to Chicago for two fifth-round picks
Round 5 Bucs’ own selection
Round 5 Acquired from Chicago in trade down deal
Round 5 Acquired from Chicago in trade down deal
Round 6 Bucs’ own selection

Buccaneers’ Cuts

Bucs TE Cameron Brate

Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With $61 million in salary cap space after acquiring Carr in a trade with the Raiders, there is still plenty of cap room and I don’t have to make any roster moves for the sole purpose of creating more cap space. However, I do restructure tight end Cameron Brate’s deal, forcing him to take a pay cut from $6 million to $4 million this year to stay in Tampa Bay.

Unrestricted Free Agent Re-signings

OLB Shaquil Barrett – 4 years, $64 million
The Bucs avoid having to use the franchise tag on Barrett by paying him slightly more at an average of $16 million per season for four years. Tampa Bay gets its top pass rusher under contract until age 31.

OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – 2 years, $20 million
What is the market for a 31-year old edge rusher coming off a year that began with an offseason neck injury from a car crash? That’s a great question. Pierre-Paul will be allowed to test free agency, but returns on a two-year deal worth an average of $10 million per season, and brings the fire, intensity and leadership back to Tampa Bay.

DT Ndamukong Suh – 1 year, $7.25 million
Suh does a lot of the dirty work in Tampa Bay’s run defense that doesn’t always show up on the stats sheet. Suh brings an attitude and toughness to the Bucs defense that the team would like to have back for one more year – on a deal that’s $2 million cheaper than last season’s.

WR Breshad Perriman – 2 years, $12 million
The Bucs value what Perriman was able to do last year and sign him to a modest two-year deal that averages $6 million per season – a $2 million pay increase from the previous year. Scotty Miller and Justin Watson just aren’t ready to step in full time if injuries hit starters Mike Evans and Chris Godwin again.

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

OLB Carl Nassib – 1 year, $5 million
Nassib hits free agency and finds out there isn’t a huge market for a physical, blue-collar edge defender. After examining his options, he takes a one-year, prove-it deal to return to Tampa Bay, and makes nearly three times what he made with the Bucs a year ago.

RT Demar Dotson – 1 year, $2.5 million
I’ve got a soft spot for Dotson, and he has one more year’s worth of starting in him if necessary. At worst, he’s a great veteran backup that can help groom Tampa Bay’s right tackle of the future and comes with an affordable price tag.

QB Drew Stanton – 1 Year, $2.5 million
The 35-year old Stanton played for Arians in Arizona and comes to Tampa Bay to help Carr acclimate himself to the offense. Stanton will also challenge Ryan Griffin, who enters a contract year, for the No. 2 QB job.

ILB Kevin Minter – 1 Year, $945,000
Minter knows Bowles’ defense inside and out, and proved his worth last year filling in for a few games for the injured Devin White. His veteran presence is welcomed in the locker room and he’s still a force on special teams at age 29.

C/G Earl Watford – 1 Year, $945,000
Watford returns because he knows the offense and is really versatile, especially at center where he’ll be used in 2020 if any injury happens to Ryan Jensen.

Bucs DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Bucs DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches – 1 Year, $820,000
At just 26 years old, Nunez-Roches (aka Nacho) is a versatile defensive lineman that still has some upside to his game, especially as an interior pass rusher. A slight raise and a one-year, prove-it deal worth nearly $1 million gets Nunez-Roches back in Tampa Bay.

OT Josh Wells – 1 year, $820,000
Wells proved to be a decent backup at left tackle, and has the versatility to also play the right side. Until a better backup emerges, Wells returns for one more year on a prove-it contract.

These signings leave my Buccaneers team with approximately $11.7 million to sign the 2020 draft class and still have some room to sign some in-season injury replacements.

Unrestricted Free Agents Not Re-signed

QB Jameis Winston
I’ve written before that I wouldn’t mind seeing Winston back in Tampa Bay. At the same time, it’s been a wild ride with plenty of ups and downs – enough to create some Winston fatigue in the Bucs fan base. Tampa Bay can’t win by constantly beating itself, and Winston has over 100 turnovers since wearing red and pewter beginning in 2015. I don’t think there will be much of a market for Winston in free agency, but we’ll see. His departure could fetch the Bucs a compensatory draft pick in 2021.

RB Peyton Barber and QB Jameis Winston

RB Peyton Barber and QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

RB Peyton Barber
Barber has been Tampa Bay’s starting running back over the last two years, but he’s just not dynamic enough to start in the league. Ronald Jones II is now the Bucs’ lead running back, but the team will be looking at the NFL Draft for another playmaker in the backfield.

DT Beau Allen
Allen turns 29 this year, and although he’s a solid run stuffer and great presence in the locker room, I opt for a younger, more versatile defensive tackle to return to Tampa Bay in Nunez-Roches.

QB Blaine Gabbert
Gabbert gets replaced Stanton in free agency. Enough said.

S Darian Stewart
Stewart is too slow to play in the league anymore, and the Bucs are hopeful that Justin Evans can return to action after missing last year due to foot injuries.

OLB Sam Acho
Acho was an injury replacement player last year, but the Bucs don’t have a need for him this season with Barrett, Pierre-Paul and Nassib all re-signed.

Bucs CB Ryan Smith

Bucs CB Ryan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

CB Ryan Smith
Smith is a great special teams player, but never developed into a player that could earn playing time on defense in the secondary.

RT Jerald Hawkins
Hawkins was a reserve offensive tackle last year, but Wells proved to be the better player in practice and got the playing time when injuries hit.

FS Andrew Adams
The Bucs like their young safeties, and Adams was a great emergency starter last year. If injuries hit the secondary, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring Adams back to Tampa Bay.

Restricted Free Agent Re-signings

TE Antony Auclair – 1 Year, $2.144 Million
The Bucs really value Auclair’s run blocking and appreciate his developing skills in the passing game. He’s worth bringing back on a cheap, one-year tender offer. Doing so gives Tampa Bay about $9.6 million left to sign draft picks and in-season injury replacements.

Exclusive Rights Free Agents Not Re-signed

TE Tanner Hudson
Hudson really struggles as a blocker and was not as sure-handed in the passing game as he was in the preseason when he got regular season opportunities.

OL Michael Liedtke
The Bucs move on from Liedtke and will look to the draft for younger, cheaper, healthier options along the offensive line.

S Orion Stewart
Stewart missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL and won’t return to Tampa Bay this offseason.

WR Bryant Mitchell
The Bucs want more speed and playmaking ability at wide receiver and go in a different direction.

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians

Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With 2020 free agency over with, it’s time for the Bucs to hit the 2020 NFL Draft to acquire more talent. Tampa Bay has 10 draft picks due to the three trades I’ve made.

This is not a mock draft of players that I necessarily believe the Tampa Bay will choose. That’s what the PewterReport.com 2020 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft articles are for, and we will have our fourth edition in early April after free agency. This mock draft is my own personal selections for the Bucs based on their remaining personnel needs and the players I like in this year’s draft class.

I enter the 2020 NFL Draft trying to address a few needs for the Buccaneers, primarily at offensive tackle, running back and safety. Tampa Bay has 10 draft picks due to the trades that I made on the previous page of my Bucs Battle Plan.

Reynolds’ 2020 Bucs Draft Picks

Round 1 – Louisville OT Mekhi Becton
There is a chance one of the top four offensive tackles is on the board when Tampa Bay selects at No. 14, and that could be Becton, who is the least polished pass protector of the group that includes Alabama’s Jedrick Wills, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas and Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs. The 6-foot-7, 364-pound Becton is a force in the running game, which is exactly what Tampa Bay needs. Becton moves from left tackle to right tackle initially to replace Demar Dotson, but could be an option at left tackle in the future if the Bucs want to move on from Donovan Smith.

Round 2 – Traded to Las Vegas For QB Derek Carr

Round 3 – Utah OLB Bradlee Anae
While he isn’t the best athlete, Anae wins as a pass rusher due to his extreme physical presence, his superb hands and really solid technique. Anae recorded 29.5 sacks and 40 tackles for loss at Utah, and was a stud in the Senior Bowl with three sacks. He’ll start off as a situational pass rusher for the Bucs and provide quality depth behind Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul to start his NFL career. Anae is one of my draft crushes due to how aggressive and physical he is as a pass rusher. He would be a great fit in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme. This guy is an absolute playmaker and a bad ass.

Round 3 – LSU G Damien Lewis (pick from Patriots)
Lewis is one of my favorite offensive linemen in this draft. He reminds me of a little more serious, a little more determined, and better version of former Bucs guard Frank Middleton. Lewis is a mauler in the run game and that’s what the team needs for its interior power run game. I would expect Lewis to challenge Alex Cappa for the starting duty at right guard as a rookie – and wouldn’t be surprised if he emerges as the victor.

Round 3 – Lenoir-Rhyne SS Kyle Dugger (pick from Patriots)
Like Anae and Lewis, Dugger is another favorite of mine in this year’s draft. The Bucs like him too, as he brings needed size, speed and big-play ability to the secondary in the third round. Aside from challenging for the starting strong safety spot as a rookie, Dugger could also make an impact on special teams, especially as a punt returner. What’s exciting about Dugger isn’t just the 10 career interceptions, but also the six punt return touchdowns he had for the Bears.

Round 4 – Ohio State DT Davon Hamilton
Tampa Bay needs an eventual replacement for defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and Hamilton is one of the better run-stuffing linemen in this draft at 6-foot-4, 320 pounds. Hamilton’s pass-rushing skills are still developing, but he did record a career-high six sacks last season in his first year as a full-time starter. Hamilton is a good replacement for Beau Allen, who will be departing via free agency.

Round 4 – Miami RB DeeJay Dallas (pick from Raiders)
The buzz at the NFL Scouting Combine was how Dallas could be one of the Day 3 steals of the draft, and that’s the thinking here. Dallas, a converted receiver, has the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield and on wheel routes downfield. He was a leader at Miami and one of the tougher players in the program. Dallas, who had over 600 yards rushing in each of the last two season, averaging 5.8 yards per carry, plays faster than his 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash would indicate, and he could challenge Ronald Jones II for playing time and contribute right away on special teams.

Round 4 – Traded Comp Pick To Bears For 2 5th-Round Picks

Round 5 – Memphis RB Patrick Taylor, Jr.
The Bucs attack the running back position in the draft again with the selection of Taylor, who resembles David Johnson at 6-foot-1, 217 pounds. Taylor isn’t as shifty or electric as Dallas is in the open field, but he runs with more power and is equally adept in the passing game. Taylor had a 1,122-yard season as a junior running behind Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, and was the Tigers’ goal line back, scoring 16 touchdowns in 2018. Taylor, who is exceptional in pass protection, has 36 career rushing TDs and 55 receptions for 434 yards and three more scores in the passing game. He’ll challenge Dare Ogunbowale for the third-down back role in Tampa Bay.

Round 5 – SMU WR James Proche (pick from Bears)
Proche is another draft crush of mine and is an ultra-competitive receiver that plays much bigger than his 5-foot-11, 201-pound frame would indicate. He has great ability to track the ball and make in-air adjustments to give him an insane catch radius for a small receiver. Proche won’t break 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, but wins with crisp route running, his instincts and high football I.Q. He has the skills and toughness necessary to push Scotty Miller and Justin Watson for a roster spot. Proche had 301 catches for nearly 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns as a four-year starter for the Mustangs, and can also return punts and kickoffs.

Round 5 – Mississippi State ILB Willie Gay (pick from Bears)
Gay is a tremendously talented athlete that needs to hone his instincts before he can be considered a starting-caliber player at the next level. Gay’s character needs to be thoroughly vetted as he served suspensions for academic fraud and for punching quarterback Garrett Schrader last year. Gay has 4.46 speed that allows him to run sideline to sideline and rack up six sacks and three interceptions at Mississippi State. Head coach Bruce Arians, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and linebackers coach Mike Caldwell could all serve as good mentors and role models for Gay, who could be an outstanding special teams player as a rookie as he develops behind Lavonte David on defense.

Round 6 – Southern Miss WR Quez Watkins
Watkins was one of the fastest receivers at the Combine, running a 4.35 at 6-foot, 185 pounds, and that’s what Arians wants to see from his receivers – speed. After recording 72 catches for 889 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, Watkins had a really good junior season in 2019 with 64 receptions for 1,178 yards and six TDs, while averaging 18.4 yards per catch. Watkins can also help on special teams in coverage and also in the return game. He’ll challenge Watson or Miller for a roster spot as a rookie.

Reynolds’ “Way Too Early” Bucs’ 53-Man Roster Projection

Raiders QB Derek Carr

Raiders QB Derek Carr – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Quarterbacks – 3
QB Derek Carr
QB Drew Stanton
QB Ryan Griffin
Analysis: Arians remakes the QB room with the trade for Carr and signing Stanton, a backup QB he had in Arizona. Carr will make fewer mistakes than Winston did in Tampa Bay, and with much better weapons to throw to, he’ll post big numbers in Arians’ offense.

Running Backs – 4
RB Ronald Jones II
RB DeeJay Dallas
RB Patrick Taylor, Jr.
RB T.J. Logan
Analysis: The Bucs have remade their backfield with the addition of Dallas and Taylor. Jones will be the starter heading into 2020 but will be pushed for playing time by the rookies. Logan returns to help on special teams in the return game and as a receiver out of the backfield.

Wide Receivers – 6
WR Mike Evans
WR Chris Godwin
WR Breshad Perriman
WR James Proche
WR Scotty Miller
WR Quez Watkins
Analysis: Tampa Bay plays with more three- and four-wide receiver sets than it does two-tight end sets, so it only makes sense to roster six receivers and three tight ends. Evans, Godwin and Perriman return in their roles as starters, while Proche, Miller and Watkins beat out Justin Watson for the reserve receiver spots on the depth chart.

Bucs TE Antony Auclair

Bucs TE Antony Auclair – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Tight Ends – 3
TE Cameron Brate
TE Antony Auclair
TE Cody McElroy
Analysis: The Bucs typically keep four tight ends, but what’s the point? The offense clicked better with three- and four-receiver sets. O.J. Howard is gone via a trade, and Brate is the starter with Auclair on the field a lot as the primary blocking tight end. McElroy is an up-and-comer to watch at tight end.

Offensive Line – 9
LT Donovan Smith
LG Ali Marpet
C Ryan Jensen
RG Damien Lewis
RT Mekhi Becton
OT Demar Dotson
OG Alex Cappa
C Earl Watford
OT Josh Wells
Analysis: The left side of the line returns for Tampa Bay with Smith, Marpet and Jensen as starters once again. The Bucs have a new right side of the offensive line with Becton and Lewis at tackle and guard, respectively. Dotson, Cappa, Watford and Wells all know the scheme and provide solid depth.

Bucs NT Vita Vea

Bucs NT Vita Vea – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Defensive Line – 6
DE Will Gholston
NT Vita Vea
DT Ndamukong Suh
DT Davon Hamilton
DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches
DE Jeremiah Ledbetter
Analysis: Tampa Bay’s defensive front returns intact minus Beau Allen, but the Bucs draft Hamilton to replace him as a backup nose tackle and reserve three-technique. Ledbetter showed promise in training camp and could be groomed to be an heir apparent for Gholston at defensive end.

Outside Linebackers – 5
OLB Shaquil Barrett
OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
OLB Carl Nassib
OLB Bradlee Anae
OLB Anthony Nelson
Analysis: Barrett and Pierre-Paul are bookends pass rushers and Nassib is a solid reserve that can play the run and the pass. Anae and Nelson are two young edge defenders that can be groomed behind JPP and Barrett and could be starters one day.

Inside Linebackers – 5
ILB Devin White
ILB Lavonte David
ILB Kevin Minter
ILB Willie Gay
ILB Jack Cichy
Analysis: White and David may be the league’s best one-two punch at inside linebacker, and both could have Pro Bowl seasons in 2020. Minter, Gay and Cichy help Tampa Bay’s special teams and provide quality depth inside.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis

Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Cornerbacks – 5
CB Carlton Davis
CB Jamel Dean
CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
CB Mazzi Wilkins
CB Jonathan Franklin
Analysis: Tampa Bay’s cornerback room is young, young, young, but could be good, good, good, as long as Davis, Dean and Murphy-Bunting continue to grow and improve. Wilkins and Franklin offer developmental depth.

Safeties – 4
FS Mike Edwards
SS Kyle Dugger
SS Jordan Whitehead
SS D’Cota Dixon
Analysis: Edwards and Dugger could land starting roles in the secondary with Whitehead and Dixon in reserve. Notice there is no Justin Evans on this depth chart. I won’t be convinced he’ll be back with the Bucs until I actually see him practice.

Special Teams – 3
K Matt Gay
P Bradley Pinion
LS Zach Triner
Analysis: The Bucs stand pat on special teams with Gay, Pinion and Triner all returning from a year ago. Expect better accuracy and some game-winning from Gay in his second season in Tampa Bay.

What Do You Think?

Raiders QB Derek Carr – Photo by: Getty Images

Raiders QB Derek Carr – Photo by: Getty Images

Did you like my Bucs Battle Plan for the 2020 offseason? Did you like the trades I made? Does it adequately address Tampa Bay’s needs? Which additions did you like best? Let me know what you think in the article comments section below.

Mark Cook’s Bucs Battle Plans For The 2020 Offseason arrives on PewterReport.com on Tuesday, followed by Jon Ledyard’s on Wednesday, Matt Matera’s on Thursday and Taylor Jenkins’ on Friday.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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British buc
British buc(@british-buc)
1 year ago

I love the idea of trading for carr, always liked him. I do think that we need to upgrade the rb position, I’d love to pick up cam akers or Jonathan taylor behind that better oline. Secondary still looks a little suspect to me and lacking in depth, especially when injuries bite

1 year ago

It’s…ok. I wouldn’t hate if it went this way. A lot of potential in this plan…both for success and for absolute failure. – I love taking Becton. – I like trading down in the mid rounds to really round out the depth with OL, DL, and RB (even though I would personally make some different choices, in a different order). – I don’t love sending OJ elsewhere for some meh draft picks…a great coach should do what a great coach should be able to do and maximize that guy’s potential…not make him an afterthought. – And then Carr is the… Read more »

1 year ago

Can’t get behind Carr what so ever. The guy plays afraid a lot of times and just does not excite me at all. I’d much rather go with a rookie qb instead of Carr.

NC Greenbeard
NC Greenbeard(@nc-greenbeard)
1 year ago

I don’t expect Dugger to be there when we pick in round 3. I’m admittedly NOT an expert in the intricacies of Safety play, but having Edwards as our only option at FS worries me a bit. I also don’t think we’ll be able to re-sign Perriman for what it cost here. I agree that the plan seems to be to keep the young CBs starting, which I’m ok with, but still worries me without a better vet for injury insurance. Mazzi Wilkins starting multiple games for us would not be a great thing. These plans take a lot of… Read more »

1 year ago

Scott, I enjoyed this and appreciated the thought that went into it. I had hoped to get Carr for less (draft pick wise) then you have in this scenario but actually once you have printed it – it seem about right. Regarding OJ Howard – he had a bad season last year and I get why everyone wants him off the team. The value you got back for him is correct in my opinion. If he stays, I think he would have a rebound season as he was better in 2018 than 2019. On the other hand, that brings me… Read more »

Johnny Cannons
Johnny Cannons(@johnny-cannons)
1 year ago

Overall I like the plan. Getting Becton and Carr for the price of the first 2 picks is a win; Carr’s current contract is quite a bit less ($22M-ish, I believe) than Jameis’ camp claims to be seeking.

Love the idea of gaining more late picks to address deep skill position groups.

Here’s an interesting question though: what are the odds you can package Howard in the trade for Carr, keep the 2RD and instead trade a Day 3 pick? Part of me hesitated, as 2RD picks have been painful at times recently,

1 year ago

Scott, pretty creative and I appreciate the time and effort that went into this. I like your first four picks and some of the later picks, but especially like the OT/OG selections. I would hold out for a RD2 pick for Howard to try and get one of the more herald RB’s, but if the picks come out as you’ve got them here, I’d almost trade back up rather than trade down. Our history of later round players making the roster under Licht is pretty poor. Perriman may get a shot at a bigger deal so I don’t expect him… Read more »

1 year ago

I love your articles but this is not good, like the resigning, but Derrick Carr, Omgosh no I hope he stays in LV I do not care for him, I don’t like that we traded away a 2 for him when we could get a nice RB in 2nd round

1 year ago

After 2 years of me posting dump Winston Reynolds is now saying dump Winston , I have to check twice to make sure I read this correctly, 2 years he has been on the other side making case to keep Jameis give him a another year with Dirk give the QB whisperer a year now after 5 years Reynolds sees the issue clear no blinders no filters the clear view is sad ending for Jameis Winston, I think the Atlanta game was the final straw pick 6.

1 year ago

Carr is destined to bounce around the NFL. Sounds pretty good except losing Winston. Pick 1 OT Pick 2 best RB available.

1 year ago

Not a fan of Carr. He’s not an upgrade over Jameis. People say after 5 years Winston is what he is but after 6 years what has Carr done? I don’t care if Winston is the QB or not but if we can’t replace him with someone better then we better not replace him. All this talk about getting a game manager like Bridgewater or trading for Carr is a joke. We were a 9 win team if the kicker makes his kicks, maybe a 10 or 11 win team if some calls go our way and that was with… Read more »

1 year ago

Good plan.

1 year ago

Don’t mind this at all, but I wanna know what you what the plan would be if they could actually land Brady for nothing but money. I’m really curious..

1 year ago

Carr would be a good upgrade over Winston. He managed to throw for 4,000 yards last year while dinking and dunking with no WRs. 70% completion rate and 8 INTS put this team in the playoffs. I actually think he would go for higher than just a second round pick.

1 year ago

I love the idea of getting Carr…

But I doubt Becton falls to us in the first.

Can’t speak to the rest of it because I don’t know all these day 3 guys.

1 year ago

Carr would be OK. But has Gruden said he has interest in Winston? He might want more than we are willing to give up.

blind melon
blind melon(@blind-melon)
1 year ago

Creative and would address most of the issues.

Just as likely as the other 383725263 combinations.

Would not be upset with this…

1 year ago

This battle plan depends too much on Gruden / Mayock deciding to trade Carr. I’d be happy if they do, but I wouldn’t be happy making 10 draft picks in April. The Bucs are already one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Licht would need to take a couple of those picks and trade back up into the second round. I’m just not a fan of becoming younger at this point unless the point is to add more depth at a variety of positions such as the OL and DL, and more competition in the secondary and at RB.

1 year ago

I agree MizzouBucs24. Good review of the season.

My problem with Carr is Gruden. Gruden has proven he knows vet QBs and how to get the most from them. Brad Johnson anyone? If Gruden gives up on a vet QB why would Bucs try?

1 year ago

Gruden wants an upgrade over Carr because he has trouble pushing the ball down the field. But he fits BAs offense that is all about pushing the ball down the field. I hate this time of year because the news media tries to explain how every player will work in your system and at the end of the day common sense will prevail and the men who get paid to make these decisions will make the obvious choice. Arians has always had an aggressive offensive system that takes a certain type of QB. Carr and Bridgewater are not that type.

1 year ago

There is only 4 choices at QB for the Bucs. 1. Keep Winston and hope year 2 in the offense will lead to fewer ints and more wins. 2. Go get Brady who gives the Bucs instant credit and will sell a lot of tickets which the owners want. 3. Sign Rivers and hope to get a decent year out of an aging QB with a Diminished skill set. 4. Trade up and go get Tua who some experts believe could be the next elite QB in this league. I don’t think Rivers is an upgrade over Winston who is… Read more »

1 year ago

Mizzou, I agree those are the likely choices. I’d rank my preferences Brady, Rivers, Winston, punt.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0(@alldaway)
1 year ago

Not buying the hype with Dugger IMO. Whitehead has proven far more than Edwards and is an ideal strong safety for this team. And for a green rookie to come in a beat Edwards or Whitehead is going to require very extreme talent (eg McKinney/Delpit). Dugger is pretty average in the grand scheme of things. As for the rest of the battle plan it is very solid. I give it a B+ Only problem I have with the plan is it assumes JPP and Suh will take pay cuts which I do not see happening. I think similar or greater… Read more »

1 year ago

It will be difficult to top this scenario. Well
Done Scott.

1 year ago

Interesting plan SR, but I’m not too sure about the key moves Mr. GM: I just can’t get excited about Derek Carr. His ability to lead a team to victory is highly suspect. Fun fact: Who has the most losses in their first 6 seasons? David Carr. 2nd most? Derek Carr. I know his appeal for many fans is his Super Charged Christianity (he even has a tattoo to prove it!), but it seems like someone upstairs is working in mysterious ways. Also, it’s criminal to neglect the RB position until the end of the draft. RB’s handle the ball… Read more »

1 year ago

I haven’t seen anyone that thinks Dugger will be available in the 3rd. Many have him in the 1st. I also haven’t seen Becton mocked as low as 14. Anything is possible but it would be surprising. I think that Kinlaw may fall to the bucs and he will be hard to pass especially if the top 4 OTs are gone. That scenario would almost force the bucs to take a tackle in the 2nd or 3rd or possibly trade back into the 1st. Running back can wait unless Taylor falls to us in the 2nd. Get Antonio Gibson in… Read more »

1 year ago

I’m not excited about moving on from Winston, but if he won’t budge from the number he wants, then it might be necessary. I don’t see the Pats giving us two 3rd picks for Howard. But if we got it, I would take it and not because I want to trade Howard, but because why would we keep him if we don’t use TE’s?

1 year ago

I am a retired person. As a fan and not a  football expert I don’t have the capability and energy that it would take to come up with this kind of a plan even if I do, theoretically, have the time on my hands. I love the thought and effort you have put into it. After a first reading and a scan of many of the comments so far I am going to need more time to digest all of it. I have pondered obtaining Carr or Bridgewater. I have speculated in my own mind that OJ could be traded. I would love… Read more »

1 year ago

We didn’t sign a single free agent?

This unfolds as is I’ll barf. HORRIBLE moves…

1 year ago

Like the resigns, but I’m sticking with Jameis too. The only issue I see is that with so many draft picks, the team may take over the “youngest” team in the NFL after being the second youngest, last year? If they are going to win now, they need more maturity.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
1 year ago

This is not a plan it’s a Pipe Dream! 1st off Derek Carr is not available but somehow magically Gruden calls you and offers him up for a 2nd. No worries though because we’re just going to trade OJ Howard to NE and get that 2nd right back SMH. Suddenly with No Winston & No OJ you’re going to ask Cam Brate who’s now your TE1 to take a 2 Million pay cut or else just so you can sign Drew Stanton! Eyes Rolling I thought these battle plans were supposed to be based on what could actually happen and… Read more »

1 year ago

A lot of work and thought went into Scott’s plan. Too bad the same can’t be said of some of the critiques…………including this one.

1 year ago

I like it!
Let us pray. Amen.

1 year ago

Good work Scott. I don’t mind it at all. Like most I doubt Becton is there at 14 but maybe Thomas. Not sure about Carr but like you said, love that salary. I think upgrading the O line and a couple weapons makes him more than sufficient to get the Bucs to the playoffs. That is if the defensive line guys are retained and the young secondary takes another step. Those seem plausible. Did you take OJ’s salary off the books and add it to the 61 million? I wouldn’t sign Perriman again and instead would invest that money into… Read more »

1 year ago

Idk if I can get behind OJ and Carr being valued the same, or no free agents being signed, but other than that, what an exciting plan! Hopefully, Dugger falls to the 3rd, much the same as Justin Reid. I’ve watched every Dugger tape there is, and am convinced, he will be a very good NFL player. Top 4 OTs, Kinlaw, or trade out in the first.

1 year ago

I definitely like it and there is some smoke coming from the Raiders with Brady. I think what you proposed is realistic from value to acquisition stand point. I really like Carr and think the numbers won’t be as eye popping but he isn’t going to throw us out of games either. Perriman’s injury history will help to keep his price down and that may work. I would have included a Brate restructure in there. I don’t agree with Ledtkie release, I think he is a good back up. I don’t see Dugger coming in to start over Whitehead. He… Read more »

1 year ago

although i think jameis is back at least one more year i was on board with the Free agent moves and trades in case that doesnt happen but you lost me with the draft pick choices

1 year ago

scubog- Well said. I for one, enjoy substantive criticism but most criticize off emotion with no thought…typical.

1 year ago

except Nassib, he can walk for me

1 year ago

Yikes not a fan of this at all. Why the love for carr? Hes a checkdown Charlie, and for all those in here who talk about qbs and wins, carr has the most loses in his first 6 seasons in history! Thats right history! Yeah sounds like a great guy to trade a second round pick for. This also elimimates the stud runningbacks youd get in the second.
Oh and there is no way Beckton is still there when we pick. The only thing i like about this plan is trading oj.

1 year ago

thanks for seeing carr like i do. Not sure why people complain about wins and losses and want check down carr. Maybe he can cry behind his second offensive line in 2 seaaons.

1 year ago

not bad…..but I was thinking of trading OJ howard to the dolphins for their second round pick.

1 year ago

would love to draft Love as our future QB

1 year ago

Any scenario without Winston in it is a plus. Adding Derek Carr to the roster would be huge. Should’ve traded up in the 14′ Draft to get him. Drafting Evans and then Carr would’ve been huge. Overall I like this with the exception of a developmental QB. Ryan Griffin days with Tampa are done. Draft Anthony Gordon, Nate Stanley or Steven Montez late to replace Griffin.

1 year ago

If the Raiders get Brady, Carr will have to be gone and the most he would command is a 2nd round pick especially with the number of QBs available in FA and the draft.

Brady will demand an upgrade at the TE. With a weak draft and FA market, Howard’s value is probably a high 2nd round pick if not more.

So, trade Howard for Carr and a Raider 3rd day pick.

The Wall
The Wall(@the-wall)
1 year ago

Great job Scott! Two things I would change. Probably on one will agree with this, but I would sign Conklin at right tackle. I don’t know the numbers but I would make it work (not signing Nassib for one). I would still draft Becton at 14.
I like signing Carr. Actually, there is a third thing. As much as I like your third and fourth round picks, I would sign a running back there somewhere.

1 year ago

Ditch Dotson and keep Ryan. Special teams are very important.

1 year ago

Not bad Reynolds, not bad at all. I too, if I listen to my head instead of my heart, believe Jameis is finished in Tampa Bay. I like the idea of going out and nabbing an under-appreciated passer like Carr, but I would put some time in on luring Garappolo from the other City by the Bay; it may not be realistic, but if you and Cook were in the head shed, get Brady and offer him to 47 in a trade. I know, if you get Brady, you keep Brady, but how long will he last? Young Jimmy could… Read more »

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