Buccaneers coaches, players, and fans should all be excited coming out of the NFL Draft. The Bucs were able to address several of their pressing needs including offensive tackle (Tristan Wirfs) and running back (Ke’Shawn Vaughn). In addition, they picked up ball-hawking safety Antoine Winfield Jr. in the second and playmaking wide receiver, Tyler Johson in the fifth.
With several months (and possibly more) to go before the start of the NFL season, what are the Bucs’ biggest needs? The FPC Buccaneers staff weighs in.
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Now that the draft is over, the Buccaneers have done a nice job of addressing their needs while at the same time building a team that is ready to compete this season. Something easier said than done. However, roster building doesn’t end this week, or next, or a month from now. It is always going on and in the offseason, it comes in waves. And that is when the Buccaneers should be active. The NEXT wave that usually comes around training camp when veterans are cut. The Bucs should be fairly active in that market as they will need to sure up depth, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Until then, the Bucs need to take care of their own. First up? Chris Godwin. The 23-year-old receiver is entering the final year of his contract and is set to make $2.13 million next season. A modest number for the amount of production Godwin has given the Bucs. Especially considering that in 2019, he caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns. Where things get dicey is the roughly $3 million in cap space available to the Bucs. They can free up space with a long-term contract to franchise tag recipient Shaq Barret, however, it seems like that are fine just having him play on his tag number. They could also get creative with Godwin’s contract by adding incentives and bonuses to push some of the cap hit into future seasons to ensure they still have flexibility in the present. Whatever approach they take, it seems like an important next step to lock up Godwin sooner rather than later.
With the 2020 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, the Bucs, having addressed a lot of their glaring needs, set their sights on free agency. Going into the Draft, the obvious positional needs were right tackle, running back, receiver, safety, and defensive line depth. All of which Tampa Bay addressed over the course of the three days. That presents the question of what is their biggest need that remains this offseason. There are a couple of potential answers to this such as an edge rusher, a cornerback, or an interior offensive lineman. When you consider the guys currently on our roster, players that are available, and our limited cap space left, a cheap edge rusher is the answer that makes the most sense as we enter the remainder of the offseason.
I believe the Bucs have a lot of trust in their group of young corners and the addition of the
versatile Joe Haeg reduces the need along the offensive line. So that leaves an edge rusher as the first order of business for me. When you look at our current roster, behind Shaq Barrett and JPP, the only guy likely to see playing time is Anthony Nelson. In analyzing potential suitors on the open market, there are a couple of big names such as Jadeveon Clowney and Everson Griffin. Obviously adding guys like that would be nice, but it’s rather unrealistic with our cap restrictions. Thus, a couple of cheaper names I’ll throw out there are Clowney’s teammate last year in Seattle, Ziggy Ansah, and Markus Golden who has a history with Todd Bowles and Bruce Arians from his time in Arizona and had double digits sacks last season. Whoever the player may be, this should be the Bucs top post-draft priority heading into the next few months.
There’s no question the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are building around Tom Brady. They added offensive line and blocking help with first-round pick, Tristan Wirfs, and their free-agent signing of Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs are clearly in a win-now mode and should focus on rounding out the depth of the defense. Low-cost veterans are the likely option in this scenario as Tampa works with limited cap space. However, a bigger question may be, considering Brady is 43 in August and we haven’t seen a drop off in his play, should the Bucs have drafted a quarterback for the future?
Brady has clearly a better group of talent around him than last year with New England but drafting a quarterback to watch and learn from the greatest of all time isn’t a bad idea either. He signed a two-year contract with the Bucs and it would be a shame if Tampa didn’t have a plan at the position after Brady either retires or plays somewhere else. By then he’ll be 45 and has said in the past that is the age he plans on playing until. The Bucs could, in fact, draft a quarterback in next year’s draft but having the extra year under Brady would be very beneficial. They don’t want to be a winning franchise with Brady then have no succession plan when he hangs it up. The Bucs really had a solid draft overall and filled holes they needed but if I had to pick one move they could’ve made was draft a quarterback for the future.