The Buccaneers unloaded strong safety Mark Barron, the team’s first-round pick in 2012, in a trade with St. Louis for fourth- and sixth-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay also dealt linebacker Jonathan Casillas and their sixth-round pick to New England for the Patriots’ fifth-rounder.
With the NFL Draft less than three months away, what other Buccaneers could be dealt in an effort to stockpile picks and fill the team’s many holes by rebuilding through the draft? PewterReport.com has spent the last three days looking at the top three players that could be on the trading block this spring. After starting with quarterback Mike Glennon, who has started 19 games over the past two seasons, and profiling running back Doug Martin, PewterReport.com concludes with the pros and cons of trading wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Why There Is A Market For Jackson
Coming off a 70-catch, 1,002-yard, two-touchdown season at age 31, Jackson became just the second Buccaneers receiver to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. The fact that Jackson keeps himself in great physical condition will extend his NFL career for a few more years as he transitions from being a deep threat to a possession receiver.
Although he isn’t as fast as he used to be, Jackson is still capable of making plays downfield, evidenced by 12 catches of 20 yards or more in 2014. The three-time Pro Bowler averaged 14.3 yards per catch last year and owns a 17-yard average throughout his 10-year career.
At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, Jackson can still outleap and outmuscle opponents for jump balls down field and in the red zone. Although Jackson’s two touchdowns last year are his fewest in nine years, Jackson averaged eight TDs over the previous three years.
The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly wanted to trade for Jackson last year prior to the deadline, and there could still be some interest this offseason. While there are several interesting wide receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft, there isn’t a receiver that comes close to matching Jackson’s size or that of Mike Evans, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound rookie that Tampa Bay drafted in the first round a year ago. That could prompt a team or two to offer a mid-round pick for Jackson this offseason if they want to add some size and experience to their receiving corps.
Why The Bucs May Want To Keep Jackson
If Tampa Bay drafts Florida State Jamies Winston or Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, which seems like a foregone conclusion at this point, the Bucs need to surround the rookie signal caller with as many good weapons on offense as possible. Jackson is a reliable target in the passing game, capable of producing another 1,000-yard season even at age 32.
Evans will be marked man in 2015 after a breakthrough rookie season with him drawing opposing teams’ primary cover corners. That means the Bucs better have a playmaking No. 2 receiver to play opposite the team’s first-round pick from a year ago, and Jackson can capably fill that role for at least another season.
Jackson served as a great mentor for Evans last year and he would miss Jackson’s presence if he were to be cut or traded. Without Jackson, the next most experienced receiver on the roster is journeyman Louis Murphy, who is Tampa Bay’s current starting slot receiver. That’s not an ideal scenario for Evans or any other receiver that Jackson could help develop.
Since his arrival in Tampa Bay in 2012, Jackson has become one of the Bucs’ veteran leaders and team captains. He’s become a fixture in the community and one of the team’s very positive role models in the community, which helps inspire other Buccaneers to serve and sheds some very positive light on a team that needs some good public relations after a dismal 2-14 season.
What Should The Bucs Do With Jackson?
Trading Jackson would be a mistake, which is why PewterReport.com doesn’t think the Buccaneers would really consider it. Although there were some overtures made by Philadelphia and other teams prior to the trade deadline last year, Bucs general manager Jason Licht didn’t believe those offers warranted pulling the trigger on a trade that would cause Tampa Bay to lose one of its playmakers and leaders.
As a result, it would likely take a second-round pick or perhaps a high third-round pick for Licht to even consider trading Jackson, who figures to be a fixture in Tampa Bay’s offense again in 2015. Given his age, Jackson is not expected to fetch that much. From a leadership, production and community relations aspect, Jackson is just too valuable to simply unload on another team without getting some real value. The team might want to ask Jackson, who has two years left on his contract, to take a pay cut from his base salary of $9.77 million, but Tampa Bay is not expected to part ways with him this offseason.
And if the Bucs plan on drafting Winston, who comes with some immaturity issues, having a strong veteran presence from a player like Jackson in the huddle and in the locker room is a necessity to help ease any concerns about the Florida State star the organization might have. The Bucs don’t have many true leaders on their below-average team – Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David and Jackson are considered to be the top three – and can’t afford to lose any of them.
Winston enjoyed a fantastic season throwing Kelvin Benjamin during his Heisman Trophy-winning redshirt freshman season, and found the 6-foot-5, 240-pound receiver in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in the BCS National Championship Game in 2013. Although Benjamin is now in Carolina, having not one, but two 6-foot-5 receivers to throw the ball up to would help speed up the development of any rookie quarterback, whether it’s Winston or Mariota.
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: email@example.com
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