Earlier this morning, the New York Giants traded defensive end Jason Pierre Paul and their 4th round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for their 3rd and 4th round picks in the upcoming NFL Draft. This adds to the list of crucial acquisitions during the free agency period that the Buccaneers had to address after serious flaws were exposed all throughout the roster last season.
Going into the offseason, Tampa Bay had major holes at defensive end, interior offensive line, cornerback, safety, and running back. Over the past week, the team started to address these needs by adding a pair of Philadelphia Eagles defensive ends in Beau Allen and Vinny Curry. Former Baltimore Ravens center Ryan Jensen was signed to the richest contract for a center in the league. Chandler Catanzaro gets the opportunity to break the Roberto Aguayo curse after productive seasons with the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals.
Extensions were given to two of Jameis Winston’s young weapons: Mike Evans, and Cameron Brate (he went to Harvard if you haven’t heard). Brent Grimes and Demar Dotson also return to the team to serve as stopgaps for young players to develop and take their positions after this season.
Curry, Allen, and Pierre Paul fill the need at defensive end. The signing of Jensen allows Ali Marpet to move back to his natural position, right guard. These transactions were pricy, but everyone that attempts to improve in free agency rather than the draft tends to overspend for players. I am not a fan of overspending for free agents, but with Winston on his rookie contract for two more years, now is the time to use the cap space accumulated to add talented veterans to this young core and fill in the rest of the needs in the draft.
The Bucs are left with major needs at safety, left guard, cornerback, and running back. Although Tampa Bay gave up their 3rd round pick in the Pierre Paul trade, there could be a trade back opportunity with a team like the Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Bills if one of the coveted quarterbacks in this draft class starts to fall. That would give them the ability to add a few more picks and add depth to the roster. If the Bucs decide to retain the 7th overall pick, they will get the chance to select either Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or Quinton Nelson. All these prospects are considered blue chippers and should provide immediate impact on the field. The rest of the picks can then be used to fill in the remaining needs.
Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter are on a smoking hot seat after posting a 5-11 team record last year, 4 less wins than the previous year. The way the team is hemorrhaging their cap room shows they are aware of this. The initial moves are promising, and gives me hope that the high expectations from last season may be achievable with all the national attention being focused on teams like the Raiders with Jon Gruden, and the 49ers with Jimmy G.
That being said, I know how it is being a Bucs fan since they stole my heart after Super Bowl XVII. They will probably disappoint me again, but a man can dream, can’t he?
Photo Credit: https://bucswire.usatoday.com