by Paul "Closer" Wanecski
Assuming that Tampa Bay realizes that they are on the wrong track for building a winning franchise, expect the Buccaneers to look for young, controllable talent this offseason. Holding the 1st pick in this year’s NFL Draft, they have the possibility to either select whomever they feel is the best fit, or, trade that away to stock up draft picks for future years.
It is incredibly unlikely the Buccaneers see the post season following this offseason, as they have such a vast array of issues to address. Salary cap does not appear to be an issue in 2015, as they have around 25 Million is space. They also have had some regrettable contracts that could result in restructuring or release. Of course, no one on the roster holds more value than Mike Evans, who absolutely will not be traded. His counterpart, however, Vincent Jackson could see a move in zip code. True, his trade would cause a dead money cap hit of $4.8 million, but the move would ultimately free up $7.3 million and could allow Tampa Bay to acquire some mid-draft selections. Jackson's cap figure is the biggest hurdle in trading him; however, multiple teams will be interested. Logan Mankins has proven to be a bit of a headache, along with his play, which is not up to the $7 million he is set to make this year. If he is traded, they incur no dead money and wipe his contract clean off the books. Also, with the presence of Josh McCown (whom not one person outside of Tampa Bay thought was the answer at Quarterback), could make Mike Glennon available. Yes, Glennon is the most affordable of contracts however that might just increase his possible trade value.
Dashon Goldson may find himself in a restructure-or-be-released situation. He has not lived up to the bloated contract he signed in 2013. His release would save the team $4 million. No trade is likely given the size and remaining length on his deal.
Mason Foster (ILB) should be top priority. He was drafted in 2011, but only appeared in 11 games this season. While Foster was out, the defense saw a solid dip in production, as opposing teams scored over 12 more points a game against them. Tampa Bay could benefit from keeping him in the scheme, but as far as the defense goes, that is about all they should consider retaining with any real commitment.
The biggest question is not what position, but rather WHO the Bucs’ will draft. Jamesis Winston and Marcus Mariota are the top two quarterbacks in this draft. While many think the off-field issues with Winston will make Mariota a no-brainer for the #1 selection, nothing is ever certain on Draft Day. The rumors of Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles trading the farm for the #1 selection are running rampant, but the likelihood is slim at best. Also, with only two linebackers on the current roster, expect Tampa to address that with a player in the mold of Vic Beasley (OLB Clemson). He has the make-up Lovie Smith looks for in an outside linebacker and could be available at the end of first or start of the second round.
If there were the option of a “Check All That Apply” box that was available, it would be checked, circled and highlighted. The offensive line needs serious revision. They could conceivably need a starting Right and Left Guard, as well as a starting tackle. They should target someone like Orlando Franklin or Clint Boling, who could instantly upgrade that offense. Neither are 5-year solutions, however, having a rookie Quarterback under center should cause them to prioritize offensive line stability. Stealing Devin McCourty from New England also makes sense but after a Super Bowl ring, his price tag may have skyrocketed too far north, even though Tampa Bay does have a history of Twin defensive backs.
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