FAB 4. Bucs Won’t Wait To Lock Up Stars

Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht and director of football administration Mike Greenberg are going to be quite busy this offseason. In fact, they might be busier than they have ever been inside the walls of One Buccaneer Place in 2018.

NFL free agency starts in about a month and the NFL Scouting Combine starts at the end of the month. That’s when contract negotiations will kick into high gear and Licht and Greenberg, who is the team’s salary cap wizard and lead negotiator, will be meeting with a host of agents in Indianapolis.

Bucs CB Brent Grimes - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs CB Brent Grimes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The first priority is trying to get some priority free agents re-signed, such as cornerback Brent Grimes, wide receiver Adam Humphries and tight end Cameron Brate, who is a restricted free agent. The team wants to sign Brate to a long-term contract extension rather than just offering him a one-year tender. Brate has been one of the top tight ends in the league for the past two seasons in terms of production and scoring, and he’s Jameis Winston’s go-to guy. That fact is not lost on the team.

And don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that O.J. Howard will take a back seat to Brate. Remember that Dirk Koetter loves running a two-tight end offense (12 personnel) and that Brate and Howard tied for the team lead in touchdowns with six in 2017.

Over the next month, the Bucs are expected to release running back Doug Martin, defensive tackle Chris Baker and possibly defensive end Robert Ayers by the start of free agency, which technically begins on March 14, although teams can negotiate with agents on March 12. The Bucs may not pursue re-signing guards Kevin Pamphile and Evan Smith, or running back Charles Sims. They’ll take a wait-and-see approach with those three.

Licht and Greenberg will also be surveying the landscape when it comes to other players slated for free agency. Among the top targets is believed to be Baltimore center Ryan Jensen. His signing would prompt the Bucs to move Ali Marpet back to guard after he spent one year at center.

Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs director of football administration Mike Greenberg – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs will be looking for free agent help along the offensive line, defensive line, running back, cornerback and safety in order to position themselves to take the best players available in the draft and not have to draft for need in April. Tampa Bay likely won’t go crazy in free agency the way they did in 2014 when Licht and head coach Lovie Smith spent tens of millions of dollars on defensive end Michael Johnson, left tackle Anthony Collins, quarterback Josh McCown, cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive tackle Clinton McDonald and tight end Brandon Myers.

But even after free agency, Licht and Greenberg won’t be done. Although they won’t tackle a contract extension for quarterback Jameis Winston, opting instead to pick up his fifth-year option, the Bucs do plan on signing wide receiver Mike Evans to a long-term extension. Evans, who was Licht’s first draft pick as Tampa Bay’s general manager in 2014, is currently scheduled to make $13.2 million under the fifth-year option the team picked up next year.

Although the Bucs have in excess of $61 million in cap space in 2018, and that number could swell by an additional $17 million if Martin, Baker and Ayers are released, they can’t go crazy in free agency because they need to save some room for extensions of their own players. And that doesn’t mean just for Evans and Brate.

The Bucs will attempt to also do contract extensions for members of the 2015 draft class – offensive linemen Ali Marpet, linebacker Kwon Alexander and offensive tackle Donovan Smith. Those three players are entering contract years in 2018 and Licht and Greenberg would like to get them locked up with multi-year extensions before they hit free agency. The team was able to do that with contract extensions for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Lavonte David, offensive tackle Demar Dotson and running back Doug Martin before those players became free agents.

Bucs OL Ali Marpet - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs OL Ali Marpet – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

Expect contract extension talks for Marpet, Alexander and Smith to heat up after the draft and into summer. The Bucs will likely wait until after free agency and the draft to see which offensive linemen are acquired to find out where Marpet will wind up, as there is a difference in pay between centers and guards. Licht and Greenberg were able to extend David and Dotson in August during training camp, while McCoy happened in October of 2014.

Usually, NFL front office staffs and coaches take the last week of June and the first three weeks of July off for summer vacation. Licht and Greenberg will too, but will keep their cell phones handy and might have to step away from the pool to do some summertime negotiating to get members of Tampa Bay’s stellar 2015 draft class under contract, in addition to locking up Evans long-term.

1
2
3
4
5
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
Subscribe
Notify of
27 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
CrackerBall

The tough thing about being a vocal leader is having the gravitas to influence – otherwise Riley Bullough would be the leader of this team. McCoy will never be the vocal guy we want him to be. In the old days, we had Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch – all vocal with the peaches to back it up. People respected them because they could bring it as well as preach it.

Ah… the good old days.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

Definitely hit the nail on the head with GMC section Scott. He came out with another “I’m not good enough, thanks for the push, I hear you” tweet regarding not getting a single All-Pro vote last month. Believe Sapp would’ve been more like “F%$k you” instead of “thanks for the push”, which I believe more players respond too. That whole “do your job” and “us vs the world” mentality resonates more with players imo than the “come on guys, we can do better”. LIke Kwon, but just don’t see him as being that guy yet that can lead the entire… Read more »

Cody

Who gets the better end of the deal if the Bucs trade their 7th pick for both of the Bills first rounders this year? I know they need a QB and we need to fill some holes so I feel like this may be a good trade. What do you think?

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
FLBoy84

Think you’re spot-on Cody. Would be down for that, as the value is comparable, though it would obviously depend on who’s there at #7 right? Lot’s of mocks out there have the top QB’s gone by #7 so, if the run on QB’s start early, Buffalo is probably calling Cleveland at #4. If we did make the move, good chance a G/C like Wynn or Price and a DL like Bryan or Hurst are there as well.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
Cody

Yeah if Chubb somehow falls to us then I’d stay and take him at 7. But if we get those two first rounders from Buffalo then we could definitely get Hurst and maybe Josh Jackson as well or Harold Landry. I’d also be totally okay with taking Davenport at that point as well.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
TBChucky

I agree on GMC and Fitzpatrick. He’s my least favorite blue chipper, for the Bucs anyway. Not saying that he’s not a good player. I think they’d probably prefer a true CB like Jackson from Iowa, or the kid from Ohio State. I’m hoping you’re right, and they fill that need through free agency. Focus on the lines and RB in the draft please.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
BucFanInNC

Everyone clamoring for Baker & Ayers to be cut but what about Gholston? Dude was trash too.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
athans5

I don’t understand why everyone is so hot on Fitzpatrick. I personally think that Derwin James is the better player of the two. I’m actually a Florida fan so I’m not a homer, I just think that guy has the abilities to be special. In my opinion, him, Nelson, and Barkley should be our top prospects at 7. Why does no one talk about Derwin? After the combine I guarantee he will be a top 10 pick in mock drafts. If you don’t believe me please refer to this http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000844755/article/derwin-james-scouts-see-future-nfl-star-in-freakish-fsu-safety Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

macabee

Thought of you my friend when I saw this. Enjoy!

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/news/2018-nfl-mock-draft-both-new-york-teams-get-qbs-49ers-give-jimmy-g-a-running-mate/

Oh, btw, PFF has the same idea. Good luck on your picks. Go Bucs!

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
surferdudes

McCoy isn’t going to change as a leader, and he’ll never give up the C on his chest because he’s a media whore. It’s obvious his goal now is to make more pro bowls, and go on to a career at ESPN, or NFL Net when he retires. Eight years going on nine we hear the same song, and dance from McCoy, time to realize it’s all talk. If the Bucs don’t move on from Gerry then they better draft Vita Vea instead of a safety. Put a top ten D line talent next to McCoy to finally shut up… Read more »

Tampa 2.2

I totally disagrees with your FAB 2. The great number of NFL executive of the year award having, HOFer William Patrick “Bill” Polian Jr. once said, “If you are drafting in the top 10 you must select a player who scores TDs, protect the passer blind side, sack QBs, take the ball away or score TDs.” In other words the only positions you should draft in the top ten are LT, QB, DE, RB, or WR. Offensive Guard Quenton Nelson or Defensive Tackle Vita Vea doesn’t fits Bill criteria to be selected with the Bucs 7th pick. Let’s take a… Read more »

JustaBuc

The amount of criticism McCoy receives for absolutely nothing is frankly f*cking pathetic. You’d think the guy played every position on the football team. Dude’s done nothing but ball at an elite level for us, half the time injured and with no help, and the fanbase thinks he’s the problem. Lmao. People write about leadership like its some possession that McCoy can just dig out of his locker and hand to some louder rah-rah man since everybody should aspire to the masculine fantasy that being a hard ass is the de-facto best and only valid leadership style. Christ, let’s go… Read more »

Bucsfan1983

Seriously Scott?

The Bucs should absolutely not pass on Fitz, if the opportunity is there. There are 4 players they should be looking at #7, Chubb, Fitz, Barkley and James. If all four are gone, then look to trade down for Nelson, Davenport, Vea or whoever.

I don’t think all 4 will be gone by 7, at least 3-4 QBs will be going before 7.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
stlbucsfan

It makes no sense that we are still having articles written about GMC not being a vocal leader. Tony Dungy didn’t lead the same as Gruden but they both have the same amount of rings. Writing articles that even suggest that GMC is the problem is asinine. The problem with this defense is the guy who surrounded GMC with “top notch” talent like William Gholston, Robert Ayers, Chris Baker, Michael Johnson, Stevie T, George Johnson and I could go on but you get the point. GMC doesn’t need to be Warren Sapp to win in the NFL, plenty of players… Read more »

RootsCrew

Unfortunately, the Fab 3 likely won’t happen. Koetter is a dinosaur in terms of how he views football. Despite the overwhelming evidence that his defense couldn’t hold leads/or consistently hold the other teams offense, he still punted or called plays “not to lose” instead of going for the win. That’s just who he is. He thinks it’s still 2008. The lack of using the QB sneak has driven me mad since 2015. He’d rather go 5 wide on 3rd and 1 than use the sneak with Jameis. In regards to the Fab 2, I’m not against drafting Minkah dependent on… Read more »

RootsCrew

And you really can’t compare teams when evaluating if McCoy elevated his teammates play. The talent is night and day different. 1997: Sapp’s 3rd year Hardy, Brooks (HOF), Lynch (HOF worthy), Donnie, Culpepper, Upshaw 1998: Sapp’s 4th year Hardy, Brooks, Lynch, Donnie, Culpepper, Upshaw, Ronde (HOF worthy) 2000: Sapp’s 6th year Booger, Brooks, Lynch, Donnie, Ronde, Quarles, Robinson Contrast the supporting casts 2012: GMC’s 3rd year LVD, 37 year old Ronde, Barron, Bennett, Foster, Ahmad, Miller 2013: GMC’s 4th year LVD, Barron, Foster, Dashon, Clayborn, Revis, Banks, Akeem 2015: GMC’s 6th year LVD, Kwon, Conte, Gholston, Jacquies, Lansanah, McDougald, Moore,… Read more »

Ken - Kfromfla

Great players make plays when it counts. Great defensive players create stops on critical drives. Great player make plays. Ask Brandon Graham about his strip-sack, or Julian Edelman about his ridiculous diving catch in SB – 51, or Von Miller about his sack on Cam, or Malcom Butler about his Int. Great players make plays in when it counts. Now, name that play for McCoy in 8 seasons? Maybe the hurry on Ryan in 2016? I can’t think of another out of 109 games and a $100 Million dollar investment. Please name another. I’ll wait. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

Ken - Kfromfla

I hate the subject of leadership on the defensive side of the ball because when I try to explain my issue with it, I get accused of McCoy bashing, when that is never what I set out to do. Gerald McCoy is one of the best DT in the game, but his position as team leader dramatically reduces his possible contributions. Let me explain. Football is a man’s man sport, alpha male trying to take the heads off of other alpha males, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Yet, the bucs are soft on defense, there is just… Read more »

owlykat

Enjoyed your entire article. McCoy needs to up his leadership by example and pass the Captainship to the caller of the Defense who has the fire to do it. Licht’s failure to build from the trenches forward is the real problem! Koetter used to call QB sneaks when Jameis had the weight to pull it off but he should have never let Jameis lose his weight which led to his injury and increased fumbles. Koetter’s pampered practices does not prepare his teams to be strong enough to dominate. He needs to visit the Gator practices going on right now and… Read more »

martinii

Fab 1 regarding Mc Coy and his leadership strategy absolutely makes me sick to my stomach. This site is beginning to remind me of another Hater site which I have all but stopped visiting. For all you experts on leadership the most basic form is by example. No he doesn’t have the fire and brimstone, no he’s not the animated spokes person or maybe he doesn’t have the Warren Sapp bravado, but every time he steps on that field opposing coaches and players are game planning for him with double teams. So go ahead trade hime, cut him, ridicule him… Read more »

SaskBucs

Fab 1- Agree. I never bash McCoy’s play but I have been in a locker room my whole life and if you can’t confront teammates or even the coach in a proper manner, you aren’t leading properly. Fab 2- Admittedly, I don’t understand the talents and projections of these college ballers as I don’t usually watch but I tend to agree with what you said and I am firmly in the camp of drafting for the trenches. Fab 3- Agree, but only if Koetter can stop telegraphing plays and targets. Get creative, sneak Winston, fake an end around to DJax… Read more »

Garv

It never ceases to amaze me how much crap Gerald McCoy takes from some fans. And of course the media inflames it for even more attention. He is himself, will always BE himself and that is an NFL Pro Bowl DT year after year after year. I do agree that Kwon and Jameis are the leaders now and that’s fine. I love their passion and drive to win the damn games. In fact their drive to win the damn games is, ironically, the very thing some fans were bitching about when they led the team to the final win against… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0

Fix the lines.

Passing superior safety talent in the 2018 draft isn’t a good idea but the Bucs don’t have that luxury with their o-line/d-line.

Fix the lines.

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
scubog

I’m a little late reading the Fab 5 this week, but I’ll offer my take on the on going GMC debate. There are lots of ways to lead and certainly being one of the players to demonstrate how it’s done is one of them. It sure would be difficult to get folks to follow your lead when you don’t do things properly or take the easy way out yourself. Gerald and the great Lee Roy Selmon are great examples. But unlike #63, #93 rarely takes over a game or comes through when needed most like Selmon, Sapp, Brooks or my… Read more »

plopes808

GMC’s leadership style is just fine. We already have Kwon bringing the fire on defense so having 2 of the same leadership style is a waste. Not to mention the fact that the “in your face” style is obviously not GMC at all. I hope we don’t reach on Fitzpatrick when clearly our most sure-fire hit would be to draft Nelson and put him next to Ali. Those 2 would bust gaping holes through D-lines and allow our backs to gallop through them. If we can land Michel in the 2nd round, our 2 picks would compliment each other very… Read more »

jp414

Spend a first round, seventh overall pick on a G? Who does that? The last time anybody spent a pick that high on an OG was AZ taking Jonathan Cooper at pick #7 in 2013. How’d that work out for them? SF drafted Mike Iupati at pick 17 in 2010. Other than those two, no guards have been taken any higher than 23rd by any team for the last 15 years! This team needs a pass rush. And, CB help. And, a RB. And, maybe a LT & C. All of those – before OG. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

Dan.B

Yes i totally agree that we should pass on Fitzpatrick with the 7th pick and go for either Vea or Nelson. both are mammoths that move extremely well and will be contributing players for a long time. I also think we should double up on big men with our 2nd round pick of the draft as well. if we take nelson, maybe the Florida DT taven bryan will be there in the early 2nd, or if we take Vea at 7, why not go for a solid OLinemen with our 2nd pick. the game is won and lost in the… Read more »