The first big waive of free agency is over. Many familiar faces are in new places, while some are staying home. For all teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s time to take stock. What do they have and where do they go from here?
Quarterback – Tom Brady and Kyle Trask
The big news here is obviously that Tom Brady came out of his brief retirement. With his return to the Bucs it drastically changed the outlook of this team. Expect Brady to be in the MVP conversation again as well as for the Bucs to make a deep playoff run.
That leaves Kyle Trask as the current projected backup. Despite him being in line to be the starter two weeks ago, the Bucs might want to upgrade here. Trask is only in his second season in the NFL and is completely unproven. I’d expect the team to re-sign Blaine Gabbert who is familiar with the offense.
Running Back – Leonard Fournette and Ke’Shawn Vaughn
The Bucs just re-signed Leonard Fournette. With his return he is expected to be the bellcow back in Tampa Bay. He is coming off a strong season where he looked improved as a runner and in the passing game.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is now currently set to be the primary backup. After being a depth player with limited playing time in his first two seasons, Vaughn will get a chance to compete and win this job. With who he’ll be competing with is yet to be seen.
Because the Buccaneers still have an opening at this position, I’d also expect them to draft a running back. The middle rounds will provide a lot of value in a deep, although not spectacular, running back class. Specifically, I’d look for a back that excels in the passing game to challenge Vaughn for the backup role.
Wide Receiver – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson, Jaelon Darden.
The Bucs have a lot of options at receiver. It all starts at the top with Mike Evans and the newly re-signed Chris Godwin. There are their stars and a big part of what makes the offense go. Additionally they signed Russell Gage from Atlanta to fill the void as their third starting receiver.
Beyond that it feels like trial by combat. Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman, Tyler Johnson and Jaelon Darden are all competing for a place on this team. It seems unlikely all will make the team and there’s a real possibility the Bucs look to draft another receiver in the middle rounds.
Tight End – Cam Brate
There has been very little activity at the tight end position this offseason. Long time Buccaneer Cameron Brate is projected as the starter right now, which isn’t a bad thing. However, everyone is waiting to see what Rob Gronkowski will do. Many believe he will once again reunite with Brady in Tampa Bay, but at this point it’s best not to make assumptions as he considers his options.
Regardless of what Gronkowski does, it seems likely the Bucs will draft a tight end. They met with several at the combine and have made it clear that blocking will be a priority. I’d expect then to address this need as early as day two of the draft.
Offensive Line – Donovan Smith, Aaron Stinnie, Robert Hainsey, Ryan Jensen, Shaq Mason and Tristan Wirfs.
This is and excellent group on the offensive line. Returning is Smith and a pair of All Pro caliber guys in Ryan Jensen and Tristan Wirfs. To go with them is the newest trade acquisition, Pro Bowl right guard Shaq Mason. That leaves Aaron Stinnie and Robert Hainsey to compete for the starting left guard spot.
It’s worth noting that depth swing tackle Josh Wells, who saw playing time in the postseason, is a free agent. Don’t be surprised if the Bucs draft his replacement in this draft; preferably a guy who can play guard as well to add additional competition for the starting left guard job.
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