Written by: Johnny Dean
The Buccaneers will have several decisions to make this offseason before the NFL Draft takes place.
Priority number one should be deciding to sign or not sign Jameis Winston. Despite popular opinion Winston will be resigned, it’s just a matter of ironing out the contract details.
Priority number two should be signing Shaq Barrett to a long term contract. Expect to pay for this one as Barrett has been nothing short of spectacular for the Buccaneers. Barrett’s contract should be somewhere between between $17 and $18 million per season. Hey, if you want to compete in this league you aren’t going to do so with a tight grip on the wallet.
After Barrett the next priority should be that the Buccaneers attempt to keep as many of the rest of the current defensive line intact as possible. With thei salary cap space upwards of $90 million and more to come through player cuts this offseason retaining the key pieces from that line should be no problem.
Where does that leave the Buccaneers in the depth department? Obviously the offensive line lacking depth stands out. In particular the tackle position. It is highly doubtful the Buccaneers will find a starting tackle in free agency, they just aren’t expendable. So that puts drafting offensive lineman as a high priority. I would think they should use the 1st and 2nd round picks to address this.
The Buccaneers will also be looking to fill in those spots on the defensive line which will need filled eventually when the older guy’s decide to leave. Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh for instance. Not drafting those positions would be foolish for a team trying to build a long term future.
But Wait, There’s More
The running game and a veteran presence in the secondary are still areas the Buccaneers should also think about addressing. The run game, with solid offensive line additions in the draft may be serviceable, but is still a position that needs addressing. I honestly can’t sit here and say the Buccaneers have found their franchise running back yet. Then again I can’t say they haven’t. There just isn’t enough good information to base this judgement on as of yet. The run game has shown flashes of promise at times, yet without decent tackles to supply the lanes we just do not know if it’s enough yet.
The secondary is another question altogether though. Late this season the Buccaneers rookie corner Jamel Dean went to Todd bowles and asked to watch more tape on opponents. This move worked out so well for him that the rest of the young secondary decided to follow suit. It has worked pretty well for them as well.
I believe there is still a need for a veteran free safety to make sure the secondary knows exactly what the offense they’re face is doing. Especially if they do make a playoff push and face a team like the Patriots and a coach like Bill Belichick who loves to throw up offensive looks that confuse even the oldest veteran.
I can see the Buccaneers looking at possibly a veteran safety and perhaps a mid grade free agent running back or even drafting a running back later in the mid-late rounds. However the Buccaneers decide to do this, this offseason will see them gathering a lot of the pieces needed to fill holes on this team. If Arians works as well with general manager Jason Licht as he seems to have last year, it should be a very exciting offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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