With the signing of Tom Brady, one thing is clear. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all in. The focus now shifts to keeping the defense intact after an improved ending to the season last year. One key piece to that defense was Ndamukong Suh. Keeping him on the roster would be ideal, but what if there was an upgrade available? Chris Jones would be a perfect candidate to replace Suh and could be an upgrade.
Suh, who will be 33 during the 2020 season, is a free agent. One the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would most likely want to return. His abilities may not be as dominant as they once were but his talent is still unquestionable. If Suh re-signs with the Buccaneers, the defensive line will remain together and continue to solidify in their second season under Todd Bowles’ scheme.
Last season, Suh played in all 16 games and a stout 77% of the snaps. The Buccaneers’ return on investment included 41 tackles, two and a half sacks, six stops for a loss, with four fumble recovers and pass deflections. He essentially proved once again on a one year deal he is worth the money. In 2018, he played for $9.25 million dollars.
The Buccaneers may bring Suh back for a one or two year contract. The question will ultimately be, at what price? I would expect Suh will be asking for similar money to the Gerald McCoy deal he just signed in Dallas. Maybe more. So around $7 to $9 million.
The Buccaneers Can Upgrade From Suh
The Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a Super Bowl Win with multiple star players in flux. In particular, defensive tackle Chris Jones has been franchise tagged. Had he hit free agency he would have been one of the most coveted defensive linemen for teams looking to improve the defense.
What Can Jones Bring to the Team
In 2019 Chris Jones exploded in the Chiefs run to the Super Bowl. Playing in only 13 games during the season and starting 12 of those, he posted some impressive stats. In only 58% of the defensive snaps, Jones capped the year with 36 tackles and nine sacks. He failed to fill the stop for loss column for the first time in his career but still managed to get his hands in the air for four pass deflections. These numbers were all compiled with 247 fewer snaps than Suh.
It’s safe to say he has room to grow, especially if he gets back to playing all 16 games. After all, he will be only 26 during the 2020 season and entering the prime of his career.
The Cost to Aquire
With all desires come a trade-off. In order for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to add Jones to the roster, a deal must be struck with Kansas City. One that will be high and includes multiple draft picks.
Frank Clark cost the Chiefs a first-round selection, a second-rounder the following draft, and a swap of third-round picks with Seattle. A hefty price to pay indeed. I would asses that the Chiefs would try to gain most if not all of those picks if they were to deal Jones on the trade block. The Buccaneers would likely try to send a second-round pick in the 2020 draft and a first-round selection in the 2021 draft. My presumption is that part of the selling Tom Brady on Tampa was the idea they WILL select an offensive lineman in the first round.
The price may be too high for the trade to happen.
Pay the Man
Looking again towards Frank Clark as my example, the Chiefs rewarded him with a five year $104 million dollar contract. That averages out to $20.8 million a year. This is top tier money and Frank Clark is a defensive end so I believe the price to retain Jones long term will be a little less.
Given Jones’ age and upward trajectory, coupled with a presumably high ceiling, he will command a large contract. Jones should receive a four to five-year deal with an average of almost $20 million per year. He could also see a guaranteed amount to exceed 50% of that contract.
This could make retaining talent elsewhere for the Buccaneers difficult. Shaquil Barrett will need a long term contract. Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, and O.J. Howard will be free agents in 2021.
Though I believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all in this season and the next, trading for Chris Jones does not seem like a smart move. Yes, he can help win now, but there is some leveraging of the future that I am uncomfortable with this trade. The cost of draft picks and the amount of money to sign him to a long term deal are too much.
I fully expect Jason Licht to continue to be aggressive this offseason. Just not in a trade for Jones capacity.