The NFL Pro Bowl is this week and while it’s not really a game, it is the last time we will see one Tampa Bay Buccaneer in action until August. Here’s what to look out for this Sunday in the most meaningless game of the year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had an explosive offensive season this year. However, they only had one player selected to the Pro Bowl and he was an alternate. Mike Evans had the best receiving season for the Buccaneers in the history of their franchise and will be the lone pewter helmet representative this Sunday. Jason Pierre-Paul was an alternate defensive end but there were no dropouts to send him to Orlando. There will be some other things to watch for in the game, like potential free agents or trade targets.
Mike Evans is clearly the primary focus for Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans this Sunday. Evans made the Pro Bowl after division rival Julio Jones backed out. Jones pulled out due to an injury so Mike being the first alternate got the call. Evans set a Buccaneers record this year with 1524 yards. His 17.7 yards per catch was third most in the league. Eight touchdowns aren’t bad either. Evans is now also the Buccaneers franchise leader in receiving yards in only his fifth season.
On Thursday, Evans will be a participant in the “Skills Showdown.” While these are fun football inspired games it would be nice to see Evans win the Best Hands contest. He will also participate in the dodgeball game, which is probably the most entertaining part of the day. Hopefully his 6’5″ frame won’t make him an easy target.
Potential Free Agents and Trade Targets
Lawrence is the top of the list in this Free Agent class. A defensive end isn’t the biggest need for the Buccaneers adding a top tier pass rusher should be on everyone’s wish list. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have the most expensive defensive line in the NFL but are likely to move on from three big money contracts. Vinny Curry, Mitch Unrein, and Gerald McCoy are all potential cap casualties.
If the Buccaneers are interested in spending big money Lawrence has 25 sacks in the past two seasons. Jason Pierre-Paul almost got to be on the line in this Pro-Bowl and play with Lawrence. It will be interesting to see how hard things pan out this offseason
Probably one of the most hated guys in Kansas City right now might want to stay in Florida a few more weeks to let things cool down. After his unfortunate Offsides that negated an interception in the AFC Championship Dee Ford still had an excellent season. Ford currently plays outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, something the Buccaneers haven’t specialized in. However, Todd Bowles has been known to utilize this defense and a transition could occur this upcoming season.
Ford had 13 sacks, 29 quarterback hits, and seven forced fumbles this year. The Chiefs are likely to get franchise tag Ford but it would be telling if the Bucs try and scoop him up.
Patrick Peterson is not a free agent so to acquire he would need to be traded. A favorite player of Brice Arians during his tenure in Arizona, Peterson is one of the top corners in the NFL. After eight seasons in the NFL there were rumors swirling that the All-Pro corner wanted out of Arizona. He denied the reports online but it’s still interesting to have his name floated out there. The Buccaneers have a huge hole in their secondary with a very young nucleus and no clear number one. Peterson wouldn’t have a tough time transitioning but the cost might be too steep because the Cardinals have him under contract for two seasons.
Jalen Ramsey is not likely to be traded but if the Jaguars want to blow it up, the hot-headed corner would get them a nice return. Ramsey is basically a younger Patrick Peterson that would cost almost five million dollars less if he was acquired. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking to win now and top talent in the secondary is a priority this off-season. If the Jags want a premium pick for Ramsey the Bucs would likely be willing to move the fifth overall pick for an already successful NFL cornerback.
There is one free agent that was selected to the Pro Bowl but will not attend that will be a name to watch this off-season. New York Giants safety Landon Collins was selected to start but is still recovering from a shoulder that put him on injured reserve.
While the Pro Bowl is the most pointless game the NFL offers, it is the last time to see some of the best talents in the league in one place. It’s easy money for the players, $64,000 for the winners $32,000 for the losing side, but is more for the fans. While the competition won’t be high it will be worth watching for the lone Buccaneer and potentially some others as well.