The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit last in the league in cap room. They currently do not have enough cash to sign their potential draft haul. So how do they gain the cap space necessary to move forward this year? Day one of the draft and the first five picks may provide the situation necessary to do so and come out on top.
The First Four Off the Board
It seems to be a forgone conclusion that the first two picks in the draft are set. The Arizona Cardinals look primed to select Kyler Murray with the first overall pick. They then will have to decide to trade Josh Rosen or go into the season with two quarterbacks. A Rosen trade could make it unnecessary for a team to trade up in order to select a quarterback. With the second overall selection in the draft, the San Francisco 49ers will likely select Nick Bosa from Ohio State University.
The New York Jets hold the third selection in the first round. They are in need of an edge rusher. This was evident as they pursued Anthony Barr and the decision to remain in a 3-4 defense. With the third overall selection, the consensus is that the New York Jets will select Josh Allen from Kentucky.
The Raiders would now hold the key to one of the scenarios presented in this article. Quinnen Williams would be the highest player on my evaluation board at this point. If the Raiders agree they can go for best available, they will likely select Williams. If they draft for need, the former University of Alabama star could fall to Tampa Bay. I do not see John Gruden and Mike Mayock wanting to trade out of this pick as they try to revamp the Raiders. The selection, Rashan Gary Michigan. The Raiders could also surprise everyone and take a quarterback. Either way Williams falls to five.
Subsequently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would then select Quinnen Williams fifth overall. Not only is he the best available player but he then becomes a catalyst for the Buccaneers to make another important move.
Cap space is important. If you cannot manage it, you can sink quickly. The Buccaneers need to clear some space to sign it’s draft class and potentially a free agent or two. The Williams selection allows for Jason Licht to move Gerald McCoy. As soon as the selection of Williams happens, he should be working the phones with anyone who showed interest in McCoy. Although he is due to make $13 million this year and he is 31 years old, he is still a productive player. A team will want him.
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Two Possible Trade Partners
The Browns are primed to actually make a run into the playoffs, well on paper anyway. They could use another impact defender like McCoy and have the cap space to eat his contract. Without a first round pick, the Browns may be willing to make the trade. Licht may have enough of an argument to get the Browns fourth round pick and if he is really selling McCoy on his talents, possibly their third. The Browns defensive front could be scary with the addition of McCoy.
Looking to rebuild, and having a knack for signing older players to complement his draft classes, I would also be calling the Raiders. Gruden and Mayock, in this situation have already drafted an edge defender and have plenty of cap room. Pairing the selection with a solid, reliable and productive McCoy could boost the defensive front for the Raiders. The Raiders do not have a third round pick, so Licht would be starting high in negotiations by asking for their second rounder. Crazier things have happened, especially with John Gruden at the helm. Realistically the Buccaneers could receive their fourth round pick.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Williams to replace McCoy. After the selection, McCoy is traded which increases cap space and adds an additional pick in this year’s draft.
We know that McCoy did not attend voluntary workouts and rumors are that he is being shopped. So the trade can still happen before the draft, but allowing the draft to play out may give the Buccaneers the ability to ensure that they get the right replacement for McCoy.
If Quinnen Williams is selected before the Buccaneers have a chance to grab him, what do they do?
In true Jason Licht fashion, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade back. Looking to increase draft capital and still land an elite defensive lineman, the Buccaneers can target the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals. Though Denver has signed Joe Flacco, they still need an option for the future. A trade to the number five selection could net them the quarterback they want and need. Cincinnati also needs to think about the future and could look to draft a replacement for Andy Dalton. Either way, Tampa Bay may earn a few additional early picks after a bidding war and move back to the tenth or eleventh spot. From there, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still draft their replacement for McCoy in Houston’s playmaker Ed Oliver. The team would then trade McCoy.
At the end of the day, the writing seems to be on the wall. McCoy is probably not going to be a Buccaneer this season. It is unfortunate because McCoy is a great talent and one of the players I would like the team to keep. With that said, this is a business and the team is in a tight spot. Something must give and it looks like it will be McCoy.