FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• One more thing about Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd. I asked him which NFL players he watched on tape and his answer kind of surprised me.

“Since I went to Fort Hays I’ve always been a fan of Brandon Williams, who plays in Baltimore,” Shepherd said. “He actually played in my conference at Missouri Southern. He was a small school guy, so just to see what he can do is great, and I believe he was drafted in the third round by Baltimore. He is a big inspiration for me.”

Williams is a shorter, squattier nose tackle at 6-foot-1, 335 pounds. It’s interesting that Shepherd didn’t say a person with a similar body type, such as Tampa Bay’s Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is 6-foot-5, 300 pounds, but the kid draws inspiration from different places.

Former Jets DL Mo Wilkerson - Photo by: Getty Images
Former Jets DL Mo Wilkerson – Photo by: Getty Images

• There was a day when the Buccaneers would take a shot on a player that has fallen from grace, such as former New York Jets defensive lineman Mo Wilkerson. Under Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay took on its share of reclamation projects, ranging from running back Thomas Jones to defensive tackle Chris Hovan to wide receiver Antonio Bryant, but the difference was that these players were typically aging veterans that came with cheap contracts – often one-year, prove-it deals.

The other big difference that is keeping the Bucs from taking those types of chances is that Gruden, Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl-winning head coach, had established a winning culture. The Bucs won NFC South division titles in 2002, 2005 and 2007 and had veteran captains like linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Ronde Barber that had been to the playoffs for half of their careers and set the standard.

Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007 and has posted just two winning seasons since then. Bucs general manager Jason Licht has grown leery of taking chances in free agency on players that have questionable character or work ethic as several moves, including signing defensive tackle Chris Baker and linebacker Bruce Carter backfired.

• Make sure you listen to the two latest Pewter Nation Podcasts this weekend if you haven’t listened to them already. Last week we had Bucs right tackle Demar Dotson as our special guest and he spoke candidly about a wide range of Bucs topics for more than half an hour. Dotson discussed the play of running back Peyton Barber, offensive linemen Ali Marpet and J.R. Sweezy, talked about Todd Monken’s promotion to full-time offensive coordinator, spoke about the Hard Knocks debacle, the Bucs’ red zone woes and more. You can click here to listen to Episode 62: Deep Dive With Demar Dotson.

Pewter-Nation-Podcast-Pewter-ReportOur most recent Pewter Nation Podcast, Trevor Sikkema, Mark Cook and I talk about the Bucs’ latest roster moves and preview the NFL Scouting Combine. You can click here to listen to Episode 63: Bucs Moving On, Moving Forward.

If you haven’t listened to this week’s podcast yet, it’s the perfect way to enjoy your lunch on a Friday afternoon or battle rush hour traffic on your way home from work. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here.

• Thanks to Tampa Bay salary cap wizard Mike Greenberg, the Buccaneers have just $951,165 in dead cap money, according to Spotrac.com, which is among the lowest in the NFL. A total of 22 teams have at least $1 million in dead salary cap money. The highest amount of dead salary cap money belongs to Buffalo ($18,681,120) followed by San Francisco ($15,029,233) and Kansas City ($14,935,824).

Former Tampa Bay kicker Roberto Aguayo’s signing bonus proration of $573,662 accelerated into the 2018 season and accounts for most of it. Another $197,835 comes from the prorated signing bonus of running back Jeremy McNichols, last year’s fifth-round pick. Center Joe Hawley was given a signing bonus last year and the remaining $125,000 hits this year’s cap. Former wide receiver Derel Walker’s $50,000 signing bonus proration hits in 2018, as does the signing bonus amounts of linebacker Richie Brown ($3,334) and defensive end Evan Panfil ($1,334).

• Stay up to date with the latest Bucs news and draft reports from the NFL Scouting Combine this weekend by following us on Twitter. To follow @PewterReport on Twitter please click here, and to follow us on Facebook please click here.

And visit PewterReport.com all weekend for the latest stories and recaps LIVE from Trevor Sikkema, who is covering the NFL Scouting Combine from Indianapolis. Here is Sikkema’s first Combine Scouting Notebook: Nelson Is Bucs’ Dream Prospect; RB Kelly Meets With Tampa Bay.

• After reflecting on Tampa Bay’s disappointing 5-11 season, Bucs general manager Jason Licht found some optimism in looking at all that transpired during the year.

Bucs GM Jason Licht - Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR
Bucs GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Trevor Sikkema/PR

“We feel like we are very, very close and I know the season didn’t show that with five wins,” “But we had a quarterback who was in a lot of pain on a throwing shoulder. As we sit back and look at it now, a lot of the throws he couldn’t make affected our offense and Jameis is a super-competitive guy, as you know. We wouldn’t put him out there if he was in danger of injuring the shoulder worse, but when you have a starting quarterback affected by his throwing shoulder things just aren’t going to go … it’s not going to be a fine-tuned machine out there.

“We had turnovers, and we had 10 games where we were within seven points. I think we were 2-7 in games in six or less points. We didn’t close out games well. If I had to point out two things (I would say) the pain Jameis was going through, and the inability to close out games and turnovers. These are all things we think we can fix.”

• And finally, it’s time to think about your future, your retirement and the future of your family if something happens to you. When it was time for me to talk retirement and life insurance, I turned to my good friend Keith Moseley. You’ve probably seen his banners on PewterReport.com over the past year. It’s never too late to start retirement planning and to get a a life insurance policy, and I urge you to give Moseley a call today if haven’t made those critical plans for your future.

Over the past year I’ve gotten to know Moseley, who lives near me in Wesley Chapel, and I’m proud to say that I’ve become a Northwestern Mutual client and am working towards a better financial plan for my family with life insurance and for my eventual retirement (which isn’t coming anytime soon because I love what I do).

Give Moseley a call and have a conversation about where you’re at with your life insurance and your retirement, and ideally where you want to be. Even if you don’t know the answer, Moseley’s friendly nature and expertise can help find the right insurance and retirement solution for you – and there is no pressure to buy anything. Should you become a client, you can trust that the long-standing reputation of Northwestern Mutual will help you make the right call with your retirement investments.

Please call Moseley today at (813) 482-1678 or visit Moseley’s website by clicking on his Northwestern Mutual banner ads, or by clicking here.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th 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 son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

Good Fab 5 SR!

Sign me up for signing Ryan Jensen and Kyle Fuller!!

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Ken Grant
2 years ago

“Anytime you force a pick – anytime you force a pick – because of a need, you run a greater risk of it not working out. I’ve seen that happen a lot of times.”

THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS

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slaythembucs
2 years ago
Reply to  Ken Grant

Yet we may end up doing a the same thing!

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macabee
2 years ago

Free Agency Strategy *Bucs projected cap space for 2018 per OverTheCap (OTC) is 70.5mil. Additional Buc veterans expected to be cut – Ayers 6.0mil, Sweezy 5.2mil and Hawley 2.5mil = savings of 13.7mil + 70.5mil = approx. 84.2mil cap. This will change every time a player is cut, added, extended, or restructured. I believe this is the year the Bucs must make most of their team improvements through free agency. This administration does not have the time to develop drafted players that will make an immediate difference. I estimate they will spend 40 to 45mil of a projected cap more… Read more »

MudManVA
2 years ago
Reply to  macabee

Mac-

I agree Marpet should go back to guard, and the highest priorities should he Norwell & Jensen. That would shore up the interior of the OL.

Target 1 top CB & 1 RB.

I would also look at a trade for Bennett from Seattle (which should be a lower middle round pick).

focus on Defense & 1 top RB in the draft.

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MudManVA
2 years ago
Reply to  MudManVA

INDIANAPOLIS — The Seattle Seahawks are shopping Pro Bowl defensive lineman Michael Bennett in trade talks, a source tells ESPN.

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Freeman Strickland
2 years ago
Reply to  macabee

It is a shame that the Bucs left cap money in the bank last year that would have bought more than it will this year. The Bucs had the money to go after LT Andrew Whitworth and DE Calaiis Campbell. They “pinched pennies” and passed on two Pro Bowl players. It is hard to see who is worth spending the money on this year who will have Pro Bowl impact.

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Will Moffatt
2 years ago

Big question I have is Fab 2. “head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t convinced that he was a top-flight cornerback and instead of signing him to a long-term contract extension, the Patriots signed free agent Stephon Gilmore to a five-year, $65 million deal. New England tendered Butler, who was a restricted free agent, a one-year deal with first-round draft compensation, and there was even talk about New Orleans either signing him to an offer sheet or trading for him prior to the 2017 season. The fact that Belichick considered that spoke volumes” Could you not say the same thing about Norwell?… Read more »

Pete Wood
2 years ago

Most of the Bucs misses in free agency were due to character flaws and a lack of work ethic. I don’t care how talented a player is. I don’t want to sign him if there are any red flags in either of those areas.

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matador
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

That applies in part to draft picks as well in cases like ASJ and Donovan Smith and Martin (not to mention Freeman and Talib and others in years past).

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Jonathan Goodfellow
2 years ago

If Chubb or Barkley are available at #4, would the Bucs consider a trade with Cleveland?

Potentially giving up a 3rd and a 5th (according to the draft chart I used this looks right). These two players are legit and I think the drop off is significant after them.

Yes I know the Bucs got holes to fill, but with the right pieces added in FA. I think I would consider this.

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Pete Wood
2 years ago

I hear you, but I’d rather trade down with the Bills. The Bucs have more needs than picks as it is. A trade with Buffalo could net us two more bites at the apple.

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FLBoy84
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

It’s a tough choice. Two more bites at the apple, but they aren’t the same quality apples that are at #7.

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Jonathan Goodfellow
2 years ago
Reply to  Pete Wood

I am not too sure where I stand, I think either would be good. I do not like the thought of us staying put at 7 though if Barkely, Chubb, and Nelson are gone. I dont think Vea is worth a top 10 pick. and I dont really think Minkah is a scheme fit/positional need (unless Bucs brass is 100% confident he can play outside CB) So for me the 3 best options are (in no particular order): Trade up to secure Barkely or Chubb. Stay put and grab Nelson Trade down Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes… Read more »

MudManVA
2 years ago

This draft should be focused on defense as the Bucs have huge holes on the line & secondary. The only exception pick should be RB in the 2nd or 3rd round. (Praying for Sony) Don’t reach just maneuver to set the picks up. The Bucs are drafts (yes drafts-plural) away from really filling holes with young talent, and unfortunately time is not on Koetter & Licht’s side. PR points that out every year. I’m a Licht guy and truly believe he’ll get the talent where it needs to be, but this team needs play makers on defense (outside of its… Read more »

matador
2 years ago
Reply to  MudManVA

Licht has had four drafts already yet as you note we are multiple drafts away. That timeline is exactly re reason we should be overemphasizing the lines (OL as well as DL) this draft and potentially the next one. Winston is young build the team for the long term. The team and owners and fans have time, it’s not our fault if the GM sealed his own fate with poor, sometimes idiotic draft day moves and bad free agent shopping habits. Build from the inside out this is not fantasy football. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

Bucsfan1983
2 years ago

* Correction SR, Derwin James can bench press 450

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surferdudes
2 years ago

Fab 2, yes stay away from free agents who are let go from their teams for any reason other then becoming a cap casualty. Stay away from players that are over 30 just for a quick fix unless they’re willing to play for vet minimum on a one year deal. I can’t believe Seattle is looking for someone to trade for Bennett, and more stunned fans want him back. I hope Licht isn’t stupid enough to trade for a player he let go of years ago. Fab 3, as for saying the Bucs have had more luck with small school… Read more »

athans5
2 years ago

I normally love your Fab 5s SR, but this one was painful to read. Your mentality is the same reason the Bucs have been mediocre for so long. Why are you holding Talibs troubled past against him, has he been in any trouble since the Bucs days? He learned how to study film and is actually one of the best route recognition corners in the nfl, right up there with Sherman. He could teach our youth how to study film and anticipate routes. Remember after he picked Winston twice, he said he knew what routes were coming, that is film… Read more »

XpfcWintergreen2
2 years ago
Reply to  athans5

Let’s see! Aqib Talib played for five years with the Bucs, two years with the Pats and four years with the Broncos. Outside troubles behind him. (?) He had 31 TKL, 7 PDEF and 1 INT for the 2017 season.

How much would he co$t the Bucs for one year? Why not ?

https://www.foxsports.com/nfl/aqib-talib-player-stats
_____________
Go Bucs!!!!

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vtrantb
2 years ago

I’ve been advocating for the Bucs to consider drafting UCF CB Mike Hughes in the 2nd round. He might not make it out of the first round. The guy is a lock down corner, runs sub 4.4, and is probably the best returner in college.

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vtrantb
2 years ago

Hughes had a 95 yard kickoff return in the last minute of the game to beat USF in that classic game last year

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cgmaster27
2 years ago

Bucs looking for right fit in free agency? Apparently a 27 year old DE that would fill a need isn’t the right fit for the Bucs. And Quinn was gone for a mid round pick. I”m a big Licht fan, but this is inexcusable.

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macabee
2 years ago
Reply to  cgmaster27

cg, the Bucs are 70mil over the cap, the Dolphins are 8mil under the cap. Be interesting to see how they handle this and get over the cap by the 12th of March – gotta be some massive cuts coming. If the Bucs were not aware (friend called a friend), I understand. But if they had the chance and walked away, that would be inexcusable. #JMO.

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cgmaster27
2 years ago
Reply to  macabee

Got a good point Mac as maybe this trade was predicated on Quin going to an AFC team. We don’t know, but gees, I would hope that this is one Licht didn’t pass up on.

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Alldaway 2.0
2 years ago

This is concerning. The last time there was talk about the right fit of players there was a mass exodus of talent during the Schiano era. For example, Bucs went from a young WR corps with promise pre-Schiano to nothing and a cloud of dust outside of Vincent Jackson. Also like the Schiano era, there was an overemphasis of building the defense from the back to the front and too much stunting. Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Bucs haven’t made the playoffs since Gruden was coach because of a lack of talent. Even in the playoff loss against the Giants the… Read more »

ehinote
2 years ago

Sony Michel will have the best draft value as a running back after all is said and done. The Bucs should draft the Notre Dame guard or the Washington DT in the 1st round and then grab Michel in the 2nd. He can do it all and has shown to be very durable.

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jshea7
2 years ago

Living in Ohio, ive been listening to a lot of fox sports radio, and i’ve heard multiple times from multiple hosts that this is going to be one of the worst free agencies as far as talent goes! I hope the bucs do not waste a lot of money on free agents. Play low ball and do not give too much money to a guy that is good but not GREAT just to fill a need! DE is not deep this year in free agency.. Build within the draft, pay the core players we have on the roster, and let… Read more »