Amongst Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans, the thought of trading up in the draft equates to two years of going after the ultimate victory, the Super Bowl, and then a crash. The problem is the history of the Buccaneers, as fans remember it. The question is, is it accurate and fair?
On February 18th, 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a trade to change history. Sending a 2002 and 2003 first-round pick and two additional second-round picks, the Buccaneers made a move that included eight million dollars to bring John Gruden to the Buccaneers.
The result was a Super Bowl on January 26, 2003. The issue and argument have since become, would the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win with Tony Dungy? The argument doesn’t matter. The Buccaneers have a Championship, but the thought of what could have been a consistent winning franchise persists. The fall out afterward was astonishing. Losing multiple picks in the first and second rounds facilitated the sinking Buccaneer’s chances of continuing the ability to win consistently. Eventually, Gruden was let go and a coaching carousel ensued.
A Sour Taste
The fan base seems divided. Many feel as though the Buccaneers moving up would allow Tampa Bay to chase glory for a short period. Giving up additional picks would diminish the Buccaneers’ abilities to continue to add depth and replace aging players. But this is not a trade for Gruden.
Cost to Move Up
The Buccaneers pick 14th overall in the first round. It is a strange place to pick as the team wasn’t bad enough to ensure a top ten talent. They also were not good enough to be in the end portion of the first round and maybe one player away from winning it all.
Per J.C. Cornell, the Buccaneers are willing to trade up to get presumably the offensive tackle of their choosing. Now, this is not 2002. The Buccaneers are not giving up multiple first-round picks and hedging their future on a single individual. To move into the top ten, the Buccaneers must look at a few teams to trade with.
Cardinals at Eight
Starting with the eighth overall pick, the Arizona Cardinals seem to be the furthest they will need to trade with. Picking before the Cardinals there are three teams that have a need at offensive tackle. Those being the Giants, Dolphins, and Chargers. If all three pick an offensive tackle, this allows the Buccaneers to jump up and most likely grab the last of the top four. The Cardinals also need an offensive tackle but may want to gather some draft capital after the DeAndre Hopkins trade. This could cost upwards of a third-round pick this year and maybe an additional third the following year. To sweeten the deal, the Buccaneers could provide a late-round pick this year.
Jaguars at Nine
Trading up with the Jaguars should cost a little less than trading with a team that has the same position of need. Also, it’s one spot further back resulting in less perceived value. At only one spot further back, the Buccaneers can take the fifth-round selection off the table. This would still bring the price to two third-round selections on top of switching first-round selections.
Still too steep?
Browns at Ten
The Browns could stand to gain some draft capital even though they have a need at tackle. Trading the Buccaneers third-round and a fourth-round pick may get the deal done. With a team of new leadership in Cleveland, they may want to add more pieces of their own choosing. Trading back would give them two more selections to do so.
Keep in mind the draft is unpredictable. As players come off the board, pressure mounts for general managers to find the player they covet. The other teams can feel and sense this. If three of the top four tackles are off the board, a trade partner can absolutely increase the asking price. The trade may then involve a third-round selection this year and next years-second to flop first-round picks. Even a fourth or fifth-round pick may be asked for. We will have to wait for the draft to find out.
Another situation looms. The top four may fall this year. There are quarterback-needy teams that can move around the board and cause chaos. The best-case scenario is that the Buccaneers don’t have to trade up to get a top offensive tackle. This is what fans are wishing for so the team can fill other needs appropriately.
Not a Sinking of the Ship
However, the draft may play out if the Buccaneers do trade up, all is not lost for the long-term future. If the pick results in an offensive tackle that is elite and remains so for the team for years to come, then the future quarterback of the Buccaneers will benefit. Having an offensive lineman that can be the anchor of an offensive line is worth having. Hopefully, the price is not too high.
So comparing the Gruden trade and the downfall after 2002 and trading up in this draft is not even. The trade will not leverage the future after Tom Brady leaves. So hold on Buccaneers fans, this will be one of the most exciting drafts ever!
It Could be Worse
In 2012, the Redskins sent three first-round picks and a second-round pick to the Rams to select Robert Griffin III. After four years, the Griffin experiment was over and it sank the Redskins. The price was high and eventually cost the Redskins a chance at making a run of things consistently. Even with a second quarterback selected 102nd overall in the fourth round, Kirk Cousins, the team was ultimately doomed.
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