With Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting sidelined for what Bruce Arians described as “a while” there should be a need to further bolster the secondary. Even with a schedule described as “weak” the team needs to look at strengthening for the postseason and beyond.
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.” This will be an approach all teams will take against the Buccaneers. The run defense is tremendous. They are currently on pace to set the fewest rushing yards per game in a season in NFL history. Teams know the weak link in the defense’s armor is the secondary. With injuries, it’s even more glaring.
The Trade Target
Cameron Dantzler, of the Minnesota Vikings, is in an interesting place. He’s disgruntled with his team. He was a healthy scratch week one and had some cryptic tweets that found him in some hot water. Additionally, Dantzler has played sparingly after the additions of Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland. He could be available with Vikings sitting at 2-3 and falling behind the Packers and bears.
Dantzler isn’t playing bad either. Currently targeted only ten times he has only allowed three receptions. A 30% completion rate is worth looking into. Although he has only played 26.7% of the defensive snaps he has graded out very well by Pro Football Focus (PFF subscription required). His overall defense is rated at 76.2, his pass protection at 68.1, and his run defense at 89.8.
In the 2020 season Dantzler appeared in 11 games. The result was four pass deflections, two interceptions, a forced fumble and recovery, and 36 solo tackles. He has a good missed tackle percentage at only 13.2%. All this after only playing 56% of the defensive snaps.
Dantzler was a third-round pick in 2020. He played fairly well during that season. But the Vikings brought in additional help. With what looks like little return on investment for Minnesota, the Buccaneers could swing a late-round, possibly 4th or 5th rounder, to acquire the young player.
Why It Makes Sense (Vikings)
Though it’s early in the season and the Vikings are not that far behind the Packers, things already seem grim. So far they have won an ugly game against the Lions and a lopsided game against a dysfunctional Seahawks. They have yet to face the Ravens, Chargers, Rams, Cowboys, and Packers (twice). At this point, they should start acquiring draft capital now.
Why It Makes Sense (Buccaneers)
First, the injuries have piled up. Two starters, Murphy-Bunting and Davis out for an unknown amount of time it leaves little in the way of options. Behind Richard Sherman, who is playing well, is Jamel Dean. Again, the Buccaneers are one injury away from starting players who are unproven and inconsistent.
Second, the trade is not an expensive one. The Buccaneers would be acquiring a third-round talent (or better) for cheap. This season Dantzler’s cap hit is a little over one million dollars. On top of that, he has two seasons on contract still. This leaves the Buccaneers with a cap hit of only $1.2 and $1.3 million in 2022 and 2023 respectively.
Third, it provides options. The Buccaneers have Carlton Davis and Sherman as free agents this upcoming offseason. Losing one or both could be less painful if Dantzler works out. Moreover, in 2023 the Buccaneers have Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean as free agents in. The more options the Buccaneers have at that time are for the better.
The Buccaneers need secondary help. Not just now, but for later. This is one way they can do so without breaking the bank. It provides for the immediate time being and the future.
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