Written by: Drew Pogones
It’s mid-December and unfortunately for Buccaneers fans, we are stuck on the outside looking in on the postseason yet again. For the last 12 years, football in December has not been very meaningful for the team or the fan base. The Buccaneers are typically eliminated from playoff contention by now.
A Different Feel
This year has a completely different feel in December though. Currently riding a four-game winning streak the Buccaneers find themselves in the spoiler role. As I sit on this plane flying into New York City, I think of teams like the Jets or Giants that have totally lost their identity, have no true coaching staff, and are spiraling out of control with no plan for the future.
For the first time in a long time, this organization has found a proven coach that truly knows how to change a culture and is currently doing so with the Buccaneers. So why should Buccaneer’s fans be excited for the offseason and the 2020 NFL season to start?
Winning, Momentum, And Growth
It’s easy to see that this team has turned a page in Bruce Arian’s book and has started to learn how to communicate, play hard and most importantly, finish games leading to their current winning streak. The secondary is starting to gel and come into their own and it is truly igniting the whole defense.
There is a lot of youth and athleticism on this defense that will be building blocks for years to come (Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, Devin White, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting). If they continue to grow and gain confidence, this will be one scary defense sooner rather than later. As Arians has stated, this team does not accept losing anymore!
As it stands, Tampa Bay currently is just north of $90,000,000 dollars to spend this offseason. Granted, half of that money will be used to lock up Shaq Barrett (assuming $17-19 million/year) and, likely, franchise tag Jameis Winston (one-year/$27 million). Add in trying to keep the defensive line intact (resigning Pierre-Paul and Suh) and the money goes quick.
This will leave the Buccaneers with $45,000,000 to address other needs as well as sign their draft class. With this cap space, I would imagine that the Buccaneers would look into bringing a proven veteran safety or cornerback in along with a running back to help bolster the backfield. If a major cut happens or a trade can be accomplished, I wouldn’t expect them to ignore their lack of talent at the offensive tackle position either.
Ah, the ever-so anticipated NFL Draft. The Buccaneers can go many routes here. They could try to go the fan-favorite route of trying to draft Winston’s replacement (very QB- heavy draft). The Bucs could go the smarter route of drafting offensive tackles (hopefully Andrew Thomas or Tristan Wirfs) to add depth and bolster their offensive line. They could go the running back route if Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift or J.K. Dobbins are available when they pick. For the last two years, Tampa Bay has chosen to go with primarily defensive players. I wouldn’t expect that this time around.
End to a Drought in 2020?
Next year will be a fun team to watch folks, both in the offseason and during the season. It is obvious to see that this team believes in Arians and the coaching staff and the coaching staff believes in their players. With the rapid growth we have seen since the overtime loss in Seattle, I would expect Tampa Bay to end their playoff drought and give the New Orleans Saints one heck of a battle for the NFC South Championship next year!
Photo credit: buccaneers.com