After a week three loss to the Green Bay Packers, some of the Buccaneers fan base is asking for the team to help the offensive line. Specifically a tackle. Given the few remaining options in free agency, the fans could be right.
Plain and simple the offense is struggling. Due in part to injuries at the wide receiver position, lack of chemistry with the younger wide receivers and Tom Brady, and dropped balls. Exasperating the issue is the banged-up offensive line. This week the Buccaneers were without Donovan Smith due to a hyper extended elbow. Filling in for him is Brandon Walton.
In week three the offensive line allowed three sacks and four quarterback hits. An uptick in pressure compared to against the Saints where they allowed one sack and three quarterback hits. Going against the Cowboys the team allowed two sacks and four hits. Essentially, if this trend continues Brady will sit somewhere around 34 sacks for the season. A high number that would be his fourth highest total for a season in his career.
So what are the team’s options?
Eric Fisher, who played for the Chiefs from 2013-2020 and the Colts in 2021 is still a free agent. In his last active season Fisher posted a 94.7% block efficiency according to PFF. This is his lowest in his career since his rookie season. In 2021 he allowed seven sacks and 11 hits and graded out at a 61 for pass blocking.
Another name tied to the Buccaneers has been Nate Solder. The one time Patriot turned Giant is still a free agent as well. Opting not to play in 2020 due to covid, Solder returned in 2021 and appeared to regress some. Subsequently he allowed six sacks and seven hits. With a pass block grade from PFF of 52.7 it’s clear his best days are behind him. None the less if it’s time to bring in help he is still a viable candidate.
J.C. Tretter retired but the chance to come back and play for a team with Super Bowl aspirations may coax him into coming back to play. But that’s only one issue with this option. Second, Tretter is a center. The idea would be that Robert Hainsey would move back to tackle. The staff would need to determine if he’s ready for that task though. Third, is the cost. With little cap room the Buccaneers need to save this money for contingencies down the road. To get Tretter out of retirement may require a sum of money the Buccaneers currently do not have.
Final Thought, R-E-L-A-X
It’s only week three. Yes the Buccaneers are already rampant with injuries. Yes the offense is struggling. But the team looks to have multiple players back in short order and ready for the Chiefs. Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Donovan Smith will likely be back. I would not sign one of these players just yet because we are not in panic mode right now.
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