Last week ESPN’s 32 team reporters all collaborated to give their “bold predictions” for each team, previewing what could be for the 2018 free agency period and the 2018 NFL Draft around the NFL. Some of the predictions were more bold than others, but all remained in the realm of possibility, which, in turn, could have ramifications on what happens to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when both free agency and the draft roll around.

ESPN’s Bucs reporter Jenna Laine predicted that the Buccaneers would be moving on from running back Doug Martin in her section.

“The two-time Pro Bowler was given a second chance after a four-game suspension and a stint in a drug rehab program in 2016, but he has averaged just 2.9 yards per carry the past two seasons, which doesn’t warrant a $6.75 million salary for next year. The Bucs no longer owe him any guaranteed money and can move on with three years remaining on his contract without any penalty.”

Tampa Bay moving on from Martin is one of the easier ones to predict around the league for the reasons Laine mentioned. It’s something that involves one of the more expendable positions in the game of football, and one that the Bucs can transition with by using a player they already have in Peyton Barber.

But, beyond just what the Bucs might do themselves, there were some interesting predictions posed that could have a high impact on the Bucs’ offseason when we look back on it in terms of whether it will go down as a success or a failure — which could mean whether or not it saves the jobs of Dirk Koetter, Mike Smith and Jason Licht.

“The Colts will use their first-round pick on NC State’s Bradley Chubb”

“Chubb will be the Colts’ most feared pass-rusher since linebacker Robert Mathis had 19.5 sacks in 2013. Chubb would remain in his comfort zone of playing defensive end instead of outside linebacker in new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 scheme.” – Mike Wells

If N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb does, in fact, go off the board for the Colts at No.3 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, hopes will be dashed instantly for many Bucs fans. After finishing the season with the lowest sack total in the league, the Bucs know they have to bring someone in to help on the edge. With Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah likely both returning to their respective teams, the free agent edge rush pass rushing market will be slim. If the Colts take Chubb, the draft pool will be, too.

“The Redskins will not trade Kirk Cousins, but will have to let him hit unrestricted free agency”

“Even if the Redskins do place the franchise tag on Cousins, as they are considering, they’ll see that it will ultimately be too risky to do this maneuver and possibly get stuck with that cap figure at the start of free agency, thereby hurting their chances of signing players. So they’d be forced to rescind the tag before free agency begins. Cousins will then find a new team on his own terms.” – John Keim

This one is indirectly bad news for the Buccaneers. The Bucs aren’t in the market for a quarterback, so the more teams in front of them in the draft order that want to take a quarterback the better because that’s less teams to possibly take Chubb or Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or whoever they want that isn’t a quarterback. By letting Cousins go, there’s a good chance that one of the five teams picking in front of the Buccaneers will sign him, as they will be the most desperate. If they do, they won’t be taking a quarterback and instead could steal a Bucs target.

“The Eagles will reject trade offers for Nick Foles”

“There’s sure to be at least some level of interest for the Super Bowl MVP, but the Eagles are in the business of collecting talent at quarterback, not giving it away. With one year left on his deal, it seems unlikely a team would pony up what it would take for the Eagles to part ways with Foles.” – Tim McManus

This one is a bit surprising depending on the kind of offers Foles fields, but if it’s the case, it helps the Bucs as an opposite to Cousins leaving. The Bucs do not want any of the teams in front of them (Browns, Giants, Colts, Broncos, Jets) signing any of the quarterbacks that will hit the free agent market. The less change to that status quo, as of now, the better,

“Jon Gruden will part ways with not one, but five big names”

“And those big names will be: running back Marshawn Lynch, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, linebacker Bruce Irvin and cornerbacks Sean Smith and David Amerson. Gruden will then zero in on Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry and give Khalil Mack his contract extension. Crazy talk? Perhaps, but cutting those five players would give the Raiders an additional $36.3 million in salary-cap space, and Gruden — with general manager Reggie McKenzie’s help and owner Mark Davis’ blessing, of course — could forge ahead with his vision. That vision could include the likes of Landry, who vibed with Derek Carr at the Pro Bowl, another pass-rusher to free up Mack, and a backup quarterback such as (gasp) Colin Kaepernick. Hey, you wanted bold.” – Paul Gutierrez

Most of that would not mean anything to the Buccaneers, but if linebacker Bruce Irvin were to be released, that’s a potential target we didn’t plan on seeing in free agency. It’s been rumored that the Bucs are looking to go more 3-4 base this year on defense. If that’s the case, Irvin could fit in nicely as an outside linebacker in rotation with Noah Spence and Kendell Beckwith. Irvin has 37 sacks in his six-year career.

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Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

15 COMMENTS

  1. If the Bucs are indeed going to more of a 3-4, then maybe Vea would make sense at #7 assuming Chubb and Nelson are off the board. McCoy, Vea, Gholston, Beckwith, Kwon, David and Spence would make a solid front seven, though there could be some upgrades available in FA. The Doug Martin release prediction is basically a punt that requires little analysis even from a West Coast reporter. Not surprising though. Forgot to ask, was that labeled “breaking news” as well?

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    • For those who hadn’t heard, ESPN and Profootballrumors (possibly others) had credited Jenna with “breaking” the Hayes firing story, either in/untentionally omitting the fact that PR had already posted an article on it.

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      • Time stamps don’t lie

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  2. All I ask from Licht is to please do not waste draft picks in trading up. I don’t see us going to a 3-4. I believe Koetter and Smith will stick with their same plan as last year.

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    • The bounty to move up in the first round is usually a bit steep. However, would you consider moving up in rounds other than the first if the right player was targeted and the compensation reasonable?

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  3. I just pray we don’t overpay another rotational DL. At what point will he realize guys like Michael Johnson, Robert Ayers, Chris Baker, and George Johnson peaked as fresh legs used to spell the starters. Let Sweezy go and go pay Norwell from the Panthers. That gives us flexibility heading into the draft of taking a guard or center that might slide and really solidly the interior of the line. Pay proven players and it’s not that hard to turn this around.

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  4. Jenna is a lame reporter, straight up

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  5. The Bucs would be lucky if Vita makes it to seven. If we go more 3-4 you’d always have a large man in the middle with Stevie T. backing up Vea. Imagine Stevie at nose Vea at one end, McCoy the other. The Vea pick makes good sense, but Licht will probably draft a safety.

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    • That’s the funniest thing I have heard in a while. No chance in hell Vita goes top 6. He won’t even go top 10 unless we reach and draft him.

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    • Yeah, no. Drafting Fitzpatrick (who is actually a top 10 player) makes way more sense than reaching for a nose tackle that wont sniff the top 15. Shit, Vea probably wont even be the first DT taken.

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  6. Every year it’s the same crap. “The Bucs will utilize more 3-4 base defense next year”

    Just stop already. No they won’t.

    Until they hire a 3-4 base DC, it’ll be the same 4-3 with some different looks mixed in like every other year.

    They aren’t drafting and/or signing FA based on a 3-4 defense. If they do, well then this franchise is more screws up than ever.

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  7. IMO Denver will sign a FA QB.
    As for Indy with all the question Mark’s as to A Luck and can he take at hit with his shoulder maybe they draft a QB at 3. Just my opinion.

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  8. How cutting Doug Martin would be breaking news or any surprise to Buccaneer fans is beyond me.
    Going after any of the possibly cut raiders players is ridiculous. And to go for a LB? LOL
    Sure, teams stupid enough to sign Kirk Cousins or Nick Foles for 25-30 million a year could hurt the Bucs if they decided not to draft a top QB as a result but is there a team really that stupid?
    As for Chubb being drafted in front of the Buccaneers? No kidding, another shocker. He could fall to 7. Maybe. Not.

    The Buccaneers are going to be hard pressed to find pass rushing DE’s anywhere this offseason, including in the draft. Maybe going all in on the OL by signing Jensen, drafting Nelson and moving Marpet back to guard is the answer? Draft a top RB in round two and hope for the best after that. If Jameis is not suspended and the Bucs can score 30 points a game like we actually thought was possible last spring, maybe they can win 8 games. 9 would be a high ceiling right now.

    It’s probably going to take more than one draft and offseason to compete for a playoff spot. That’s the reality. And if the expectation is for the Bucs to make the playoffs this year or Licht and Koetter are gone? Then they will be, the Buccaneers will be starting all over in 2019 and probably any hope for the playoffs will be pushed back yet another year.

    Not ticket prices though. Those that have avoided the increase by paying monthly or before the March deadline will get it next year and probably another one the year after.

    Debbie Downer? Maybe. But the only way to convince me otherwise is on the field. I’ve fallen for the hype too many times over decades of following and supporting this team. Hope for the best, prepare for disappointment is the norm.

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  9. Scubog, I might consider moving up after the
    Third round.

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  10. I got one word for ya….TRENCHES.

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