RB Jeff Demps, FB Brian Leonard, WR Kevin Ogletree, TE Tom Crabtree, G Gabe Carimi, DE George Selvie, DT Derek Landri, DT Andre Neblett, OLB Jonathan Casillas, CB Darrelle Revis, S Dashon Goldson, K Nate Kaeding, P Chas Henry.
Early Draft Picks:
CB Johnthan Banks, QB Mike Glennon, DT Akeem Spence, DE William Gholston. Buccaneers Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
RB LeGarrette Blount, WR Arrelious Benn, WR Sammie Stroughter, TE Dallas Clark, OT Jeremy Trueblood, DE Michael Bennett, DT Roy Miller, OLB Quincy Black, CB E.J. Biggers, CB Brandon McDonald, S Ronde Barber.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense:
Josh Freeman will almost certainly be the starting quarterback for the Buccaneers this season, but he probably won't be holding that title much longer. The organization, particularly head coach Greg Schiano, has lost faith in him. There's a reason they spent a third-round pick on Mike Glennon. Unless Freeman rebounds with a strong 2013 campaign, he'll be allowed to walk as a free agent next spring.
Freeman was on fire at the beginning of this past season. He held a 18-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his first nine games. However, things quickly fell apart after that. He had just two scores compared to 10 turnovers (nine picks, one lost fumble) in his final three contests. Throughout all of December, Freeman maintained a YPA of 6.3 or worse in all but one game. It's amazing how much Freeman managed to regress in just a couple of months. If this were only a 1-year thing, it wouldn't be a big deal, but Freeman's accuracy has been pretty brutal ever since getting separated from former offensive coordinator Greg Olson.
Freeman basically has the same supporting cast this season, with one exception. Tight end Dallas Clark is gone, so 2011 fourth-rounder Luke Stocker will be asked to step up. Stocker doesn't exactly have big shoes to fill - Clark could barely move last year - but he's been a disappointment himself since entering the league. He has recorded just 28 receptions in his two NFL seasons.
The Buccaneers have a strong receiving corps to make up for the tight end position. Vincent Jackson signed a 5-year, $55.5 million contract last spring. All of the fives represented Jackson's faith in Freeman (his jersey number is No. 5), whom he called a top-five quarterback at the time. Jackson's analysis turned out to be completely false, but he wasn't complaining much because he caught a career-high 72 receptions for 1,384 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012. He also helped open things up for Mike Williams, who proved to be a much better No. 2 wideout than he was a top target. Williams had 63 catches for 996 yards and nine scores. Given that he's entering his contract year, he's expected to sign a long-term deal soon.
Jackson was great in his first season as a Buccaneer, but the team's best weapon is running back Doug Martin, who is coming off a completely dominant rookie campaign. He rushed for 1,454 yards, caught 49 balls for 472 more yards and scored 12 touchdowns. This was highlighted by a 251-yard, four-score performance at Oakland in Week 9. LeGarrette Blount is gone, but there was never any doubt that Martin would be handling the full workload this season.
Tampa Bay made one other big-name offensive signing last spring in addition to Jackson. Carl Nicks was added for five years and $47.5 million. He was supposed to be a huge difference-maker in the interior of the offensive line, but he was lost for the season in Week 8 with a toe injury. Proving that guards don't have much value, however, Nicks' absence wasn't detrimental to the team; Jeremy Zuttah moved to his position, with Ted Larsen filling in at center. Zuttah was just as good at left guard as he was at center, but he'll move back to the latter position in 2013. Rounding out the interior, right guard Jamon Meredith struggled for the entire season. He won't be needed this season unless there's another injury; he was taking Davin Joseph's spot. Joseph tore his patellar tendon in August. He's healthy enough to play now, but it's unclear how effective the two-time Pro Bowler will be.
Even if Joseph isn't close to 100 percent, the interior of the offensive line will still outclass the two tackles. Freeman's blind-side protector, Donald Penn, has taken some heat for being out of shape. Penn's motivation has always been an issue, as he seldom plays up to his talent level. Meanwhile, right tackle Demar Dotson was responsible for 10 penalties and seven sacks in 2012. He's projected to be a starter once again, though former Chicago first-round bust Gabe Carimi has a shot to overtake him.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense:
Mark Dominik's strategy is a bit confusing. He dealt Aqib Talib in the middle of last season, which destroyed team morale; the players figured their front office didn't believe that they could win now. Dominik seemed to validate those concerns when he let two key defensive linemen, Michael Bennett and Roy Miller, walk away this spring. However, Dominik then made a big splash by trading his first-round pick for Darrelle Revis. So, which is it? Does the front office believe the team can win now, or is it still in rebuilding mode?
Revis, who interestingly took zero guaranteed money, is coming off a torn ACL. However, he's just 28, so he's expected to make a full recovery. He was given clearance to resume cutting in the middle of May, so he's expected to be ready for the season opener. Revis will provide a big boost because Tampa Bay has to deal with stud wideouts like Julio Jones, Roddy White, Marques Colston and Steve Smith twice per year. Revis will be instrumental in shutting down those wideouts, but the Buccaneers still had to find a second cornerback. They did just that in the 2012 NFL Draft with Johnthan Banks. The Mississippi State product was once considered to be a first-round prospect, but a slow 40 time knocked him into Day 2.
Tampa Bay made one other big move to upgrade the secondary when it signed safety Dashon Goldson away from the 49ers. Goldson is a bit overrated, but he's still an upgrade over what the Buccaneers had next to 2012 first-rounder Mark Barron when it was announced that Ronde Barber wasn't going to be brought back. As for Barron, he struggled a bit in coverage during the early and middle stages of his rookie campaign, but he played better toward the end.
It's clear that the Buccaneers' secondary will be much better than it was last year. However, it may not make that much of a difference if the defensive line can't pressure the quarterback. The aforementioned Bennett had nine sacks in 2012, which was a third of the team's overall total. The defensive end who had the most sacks after that was Daniel Te'o-Nesheim with four, but he's just a situational rusher. The starters at the position will be Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers, chosen in the first and second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, respectively. Both have injury concerns, unfortunately. Clayborn is coming off a torn ACL, while Bowers always seems to be dealing with some sort of malady. He's two years removed from a knee injury and he tore his Achilles last season.
Gerald McCoy had the most sacks last year of any returning player (5). A major disruptive force in the interior of the defensive line, McCoy is one of the reasons Tampa Bay was so stout versus the rush in 2012. Having said that, the other reasons were Bennett and Miller, who both moved on, as mentioned earlier. Gary Gibson will be asked to start in Miller's place, which has disaster written all over it. Perhaps fourth-round rookie Akeem Spence can claim the job.
The defensive line will get overwhelmed at times, which will put even more stress on a pretty pedestrian linebacking corps. The only player in that group who performed well last season was second-round Lavonte David, who was an all-around stud. However, Mason Foster continued to struggle in the middle, where he's completely out of place. The strongside linebacker last year was Quincy Black, but he was released. Adam Heyward, who was barely on the field in 2012, will take his spot if he can beat out Jonathan Casillas.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule and Intangibles:
Prior to the 2009 season, the Buccaneers were 68-36 as hosts. However, they were a shameful 1-6 at the New Sombrero in 2009, a mediocre 4-4 in 2010 (compared to 6-2 in away contests), 3-5 in 2011 and 3-5 again last year. They need to reestablish dominant homefield advantage.
Punter Michael Koenen was awarded a 6-year, $19.5 million contract two springs ago for some strange reason. It's basically the equivalent of an average person spending $2,000 on a pack of gum. Koenen had the fourth-worst net-punting average and barely got many attempts inside the 20.
Kicker Connor Barth, who received less money last spring (4 years, $13.2 million), drilled 28-of-33 attempts in 2012, including 6-of-9 from 50-plus.
No special-teams touchdowns were scored for or against the Buccaneers in 2012, but they were outgained on both punt and kickoff returns.
The Buccaneers have some beatable non-divisional opponents, including: Jets, Bills, Cardinals, Eagles and Lions.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies:
Go here for the Buccaneers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2013 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis: The Buccaneers will continue to be the worst team in the NFC South as long as they're the only franchise in the division that doesn't have its quarterback situation figured out. Josh Freeman has just one more chance to turn things around, but things aren't very optimistic in that regard.
Please note that the overall grade is not an average of all the individual grades. Other things are taken into account like team needs and goals.
Goals Entering the 2013 NFL Draft: The important thing for the Buccaneers is not to reach for a cornerback. This includes both drafting Xavier Rhodes at No. 13 or trading a bunch of picks for Darrelle Revis. They have to fix the corner position at some point, but Tampa Bay can just do that in Rounds 2-4. The No. 13 selection should be used on the best player available - preferably a defensive lineman.
2013 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Buccaneers did indeed trade for Darrelle Revis, but they didn't nearly give up as many selections as anticipated. Thus, I feel like they did a good job of bolstering their cornerbacks when taking that deal and the Johnthan Banks selection into account.
Tampa Bay made some other solid choices, but the one pick that really sticks out was Mike Glennon in the third round. I think general manager Mark Dominik sent a terrible message to his players by selecting the N.C. State signal-caller. The team seemed to quit last year when Dominik dealt Aqib Talib, as there was apparent frustration because it seemed like the front office didn't think it could win now. Dominik is once again doing the same thing. Instead of helping this group win by giving Josh Freeman a tight end or slot receiver to work with, Dominik spent a valuable pick on the future. It's like he can't make up his mind.
Then again, it could be argued that the Buccaneers can't win with Freeman period because he's too inconsistent. That would be a valid point, but Glennon in no way is an upgrade of any sort. Had he been considered one, he would have gone much earlier than the 73rd pick.
2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:
43. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: A Grade
Think the Buccaneers shored up their secondary with Johnthan Banks and Darrelle Revis? Banks is a steal at No. 43. He was projected to go in the first round prior to running a 4.6 40 at the Combine. But as the Seahawks have proven, tall but slower corners can thrive in the NFL.
73. Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State: C Grade
There are so many teams that need quarterbacks, yet the Buccaneers were the first one to choose a player out of the Barkley/Nassib/Glennon/Wilson group? It may seem strange, but head coach Greg Schiano absolutely hates Josh Freeman, who struggled mightily down the stretch. Glennon has good upside, but he's a project. The Buccaneers probably would have been better off giving Freeman one more shot and then coming back with a quarterback in the awesome 2014 class.
100. Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois: B Grade
I thought Akeem Spence would go in the fourth round, so this is the right range for him. He's a one-technique in the 4-3, which is exactly what Tampa Bay needed in the wake of the Roy Miller departure. He should be an upgrade over Gary Gibson.
126. William Gholston, DE, Michigan State: B+ Grade
I had William Gholston here in my re-mock draft because it makes so much sense. William Gholston is a perfect fit in Tampa Bay's defense as a left end, a position vacated by Michael Bennett's departure to Seattle.
147. Steven Means, DE, Buffalo: D Grade
I wish I could give the Buccaneers a Millen grade for this, but it's the fifth round. Still, this is a bad selection. Steven Means is not a draftable prospect, and a second defensive end wasn't needed.
189. Mike James, RB, Miami: B Grade
This is a pick that makes sense. The Buccaneers just dealt LeGarrette Blount to the Patriots, so they had to find a second running back behind Doug Martin.
Things looked so promising for the Buccaneers when they were 6-4 and heading into a pivotal matchup against the Falcons in late November. They played valiantly, but lost by a point. This caused a cascade of losses, culminating with a 41-0 shutout at New Orleans and a 15-point home defeat to the Rams. Josh Freeman started hot, but completely collapsed down the stretch. However, a Week 17 dismantling of the Falcons should give the fans hope for next year.
Buccaneers acquire G/OT Gabe Carimi from Bears for sixth-round pick
Buccaneers announce retirement of S Ronde Barber
Buccaneers sign DT Andre Neblett
Patriots acquire RB LeGarrette Blount from Buccaneers for RB Jeff Demps, 7th-round pick
Buccaneers acquire CB Darrelle Revis from Jets for No. 13 pick and other selections
Buccaneers re-sign QB Dan Orlovsky
Buccaneers cut QB Dan Orlovsky
Buccaneers cut RB D.J. Ware
Buccaneers sign DT Derek Landri
Buccaneers sign K Nate Kaeding
Buccaneers sign DE George Selvie
Buccaneers sign WR Steve Smith
Buccaneers sign FB Brian Leonard
Buccaneers sign OLB Jacob Cutrera
Redskins sign CB E.J. Biggers
Buccaneers sign TE Tom Crabtree
Eagles acquire WR Arrelious Benn and 2013 7th-rounder from Buccaneers for 2013 6th-rounder and conditional 2014 pick
Jaguars sign DT Roy Miller
Seahawks sign DE Michael Bennett
Buccaneers sign WR Kevin Ogletree
Buccaneers cut OLB Quincy Black
Redskins sign OT Jeremy Trueblood
Buccaneers sign S Dashon Goldson
Buccaneers sign OLB Jonathan Casillas
Buccaneers re-sign RB LeGarrette Blount
Buccaneers sign P Chas Henry
Two Cornerbacks: Tampa Bay had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL for a reason. Aqib Talib was traded, while Eric Wright dealt with injuries and suspensions. Wright can't be counted on to start next year (there's a good chance he'll be cut in the offseason), and neither can E.J. Biggers, who's a free agent. The front office could easily double dip at the position in the 2013 NFL Draft, beginning with Xavier Rhodes at No. 13 overall. Signed Darrelle Revis; drafted Johnthan Banks
Defensive End: Michael Bennett is one of the better defensive ends in the NFL. He's also a free agent. If he leaves, Tampa Bay will have to find someone to compete with Da'Quan Bowers for the starting job across from Adrian Clayborn. Bowers, by the way, was arrested Feb. 18 for trying to bring a gun through airport security. Drafted William Gholston; signed George Selvie
Tight End: Dallas Clark is a free agent, so Tampa Bay will bring in someone to challenge Luke Stocker, who hasn't developed like the front office envisioned when it took him in the fourth round two years ago. Josh Freeman would really benefit from a dependable intermediate target. Signed Tom Crabtree
Defensive Tackle: Roy Miller (a free agent) and Gary Gibson both thrive at stopping the run, but the Buccaneers need to find someone who can rush the quarterback from the interior alongside Gerald McCoy. Drafted Akeem Spence; signed Derek Landri
Strongside Linebacker: Lavonte David was awesome as a rookie next to Mason Foster. The Buccaneers got nothing out of the third linebacker spot, however. A Day 2 selection could be used on an upgrade over Quincy Black, who was released. Signed Jonathan Casillas
Quarterback: Josh Freeman's late-season meltdown should prompt the front office to bring in some competition for him in 2013. Drafted Mike Glennon
Offensive Tackle: With Jeremy Trueblood heading for free agency, depth is needed behind Donald Penn and Demar Dotson.
Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams form an awesome tandem, but the Buccaneers are awfully thin behind them. Signed Kevin Ogletree and Steve Smith
Running Back: The Buccaneers could use a better No. 2 option than the unreliable LeGarrette Blount. Signed Brian Leonard
2013 NFL Free Agent Signings:
Dashon Goldson, S, 49ers. Age: 28. Signed with Buccaneers (5 years)
Dashon Goldson had some issues in coverage back in 2011, but did what he needed to do to correct them this past season. Goldson made the Pro Bowl for good reason.
Nate Kaeding, K, Dolphins. Age: 31. Signed with Buccaneers
Nate Kaeding was one of the most accurate regular-season kickers prior to suffering a plethora of injuries the past two seasons. He went 8-of-10 in 2012, but didn't try a kick beyond 50.
Derek Landri, DT, Eagles. Age: 29. Signed with Buccaneers (2 years, $3.25 million)
Derek Landri is a solid rotational defensive tackle who can put pressure on the quarterback occasionally.
Kevin Ogletree, WR, Cowboys. Age: 26. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Brian Leonard, FB, Bengals. Age: 29. -- Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)
George Selvie, DE, Jaguars. Age: 26. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Jonathan Casillas, OLB, Saints. Age: 26. -- Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)
Tom Crabtree (RFA), TE, Packers. Age: 27. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Andre Neblett (RFA), DT, Panthers. Age: 25. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Steve Smith, WR, Rams. Age: 28. -- Signed with Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Michael Bennett, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 27. Signed with Seahawks (1 year, $5 million)
One of the more underrated players in the NFL, Michael Bennett is a solid pass-rusher and a premier run-defender. He plays all three downs and deserves a big contract.
E.J. Biggers, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26. Signed with Redskins
E.J. Biggers took over for a suspended Aqib Talib in Week 6 and played surprisingly well in coverage. He's a liability in run support, however.
Ronde Barber, S, Buccaneers. Age: 38. Announced retirement
It's remarkable that Ronde Barber was able to perform on such a high level this past season as a 37-year-old. He could retire though.
Roy Miller, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 26. Signed with Jaguars
Roy Miller doesn't offer anything as a pass-rusher, but he's a primary reason why the Buccaneers had one of the league's top run defenses in 2012.