2019 NFL Offseason: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Year: 5-11)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Breshad Perriman, G Earl Watford, NT Ndamukong Suh, DE/OLB Shaq Barrett, LB Deone Bucannon, S Kentrell Brice, P Bradley Pinion.
Early Draft Picks:
LB Devin White, CB Sean Bunting, CB Jamel Dean, S Mike Edwards, DE/DT Anthony Nelson, K Matt Gay. Buccaneers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Adam Humphries, DE Vinny Curry, DT Gerald McCoy, LB Kwon Alexander, CB Brent Grimes, S Andrew Adams.

2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense:
This is most likely Jameis Winston’s final chance to prove himself. There was some question as to whether or not Winston would return to the Buccaneers in 2019, but the team has decided to give him one last shot. Winston has gotten into trouble off the field and played inconsistently on it, so the Buccaneers have grown tired of his antics, and deservedly so.

Winston has a chance to finally prove himself worthy of being a No. 1 overall pick, thanks to upgraded coaching. Bruce Arians re-gained his passion for football during his year off, so he should be able to get the most out of his new quarterback. Winston will also have tons of talent at his disposal. He’ll be able to throw to a pair of dynamic wide receivers and a couple of talented tight ends. The first group is comprised of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Evans is one of the potent receivers in the NFL, while Godwin seems to be on the verge of breaking out with a huge season. Godwin caught 59 passes for 842 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He was usually blocked from more opportunities by DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, but both players are gone. It’ll now be the Godwin show across from Evans. Meanwhile, O.J. Howard has the talent to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL. He hauled in 34 balls for 565 yards in just 10 games in his second season. Cameron Brate will serve as a great insurance policy if Howard were to get hurt again.

While the Buccaneers have some great skilled players at receiver, their offense is lacking in other areas. This includes running back. The team had a bottom-10 rush offense in efficiency last year, yet the front office did nothing to rectify it. Perhaps the team is a strong believer in Ronald Jones. The 2018 second-round pick was a huge bust last year, but has plenty of talent and could potentially live up to it. If not, it’ll be up to Peyton Barber’s plodding style yet again.

It doesn’t really help Jones and Barber that the Buccaneers have a sub-par offensive line. Left tackle was one of the main positions of need entering this offseason, yet the front office gave incumbent blind-side protector Donovan Smith a massive contract worth $27 million in guarantees. This was an inexplicable decision that Tampa Bay will surely regret. Right tackle Demar Dotson is a much better player, but the problem with him is that he turns 34 in October. He has already begun regressing, so his play could slip even further.

Tampa’s interior blocking isn’t much better. The best of the trio is left guard Ali Marpet, who is a stellar lineman. However, center Ryan Jensen isn’t very good, while right guard Caleb Benenoch is far worse.

2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense:
While the Buccaneers have concerns with their offensive line and running game, as well as with Jameis Winston, their greatest concern this offseason had to be upgrading the defense, which was dead last in efficiency last year, ranking 30th against the pass and 31st versus the run.

It was a guarantee that the Buccaneers were going to use the No. 5 overall pick on a front-seven player. It was only a matter of Kentucky’s Josh Allen versus LSU’s Devin White. It turned out to be White, who will be the new centerpiece of Tampa’s defense. The Buccaneers had Lavonte David at the position, but there’s some concern about his ability to transition into the 3-4. White is a perfect fit for it, as he’ll be the do-it-all defensive leader that Tampa Bay has been lacking for quite some time.

White, of course, needs some protection from his defensive line. It wasn’t apparent he’d have it once the team cut long-time Buccaneer Gerald McCoy, who, like David, wasn’t a good projection into the 3-4. However, Tampa Bay signed Ndamukong Suh days later. Suh is no longer the dominant force he once was, but he still played very well for the Rams last year. Suh signed a 1-year contract, so he’ll be highly motivated on his “prove it” deal. Suh will start along with 2018 first-rounder Vita Vea, a monstrous, run-stuffing nose tackle, and Beau Allen, who didn’t quite live up to expectations as a free-agent signing last offseason.

While the Buccaneers will be better versus the run, thanks to Suh and White, as well as Vea’s progression, there’s major concern about their pass rush. Suh will help with some disruption in the interior, but the edge talent is sorely lacking. Jason Pierre-Paul is a big name, but he’s coming off neck surgery and may not be ready for the regular season. It’s possible that Carl Nassib will be Tampa’s best edge rusher in 2019, and yet he logged just 6.5 sacks last year.

A pedestrian pass rush will obviously put the secondary in a bad spot. That wouldn’t be a huge deal if Tampa had some excellent defensive backs, but that’s not the case. All of the Buccaneers’ returning cornerbacks were horrendous last season, and that includes former first-rounder Vernon Hargreaves. Tampa spent two early draft picks on cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean, so perhaps one of them will be able to provide a big boost.

The safety situation is only better by default. Justin Evans is a decent player, but the Buccaneers have a big void next to him. The front office had a chance to nab Derwin James last April, but foolishly passed on him in favor of a two-down player.

2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule and Intangibles:
Prior to the 2009 season, the Buccaneers were 68-36 as hosts. However, they’ve maintained one of the worst home-field advantages in the NFL since. They’re 29-50 at the New Sombrero dating back to 2009.

Tampa made what one general manager called “the worst draft pick ever” when they traded up into the second round for kicker Roberto Aguyao three years ago. Unsurprisingly, the Buccaneers were looking for a new kicker this offseason. They’ve settled on someone named Phillip Andersen, who last played for the Berlin Eagles in the German Football League.

Of course, the Jaguars’ decision to take Bryan Anger in the third round – a few selections prior to Russell Wilson – may have been worse. Coincidentally, Anger is now Tampa’s punter. Anger was just 25th in net average last year.

The Buccaneers were poor on special teams otherwise. Their opponents outgained them on punts and kickoffs.

Tampa Bay has a brutal schedule to begin the year. Excluding a game against the Giants, it has to battle the improved 49ers (home), Panthers (road), Rams (road), Saints (road) and then Panthers (home).

2019 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.

2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis: The Buccaneers figure to be better in 2019, though the end results may not show it. The Saints, Panthers and Falcons are all far better than them at the moment, so it appears as though they’re in for another last-place finish in the division. That said, Bruce Arians will be able to turn things around eventually. He may have to do so with another quarterback, however.

Projection: 7-9 (4th in NFC South)

2018 Projection: 2-14. 2018 Actual Result: 5-11.
2017 Projection: 10-6. 2017 Actual Result: 5-11.
2016 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Buccaneers need help on every level of their defense, so they must use most of their draft choices on fixing their woeful stop unit. The offense could use a new running back and some offensive line help, but this must be a defensive-centric draft for Tampa Bay.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: It was not a surprise in the slightest that the Buccaneers used their first five picks on defense. They began by obtaining the new centerpiece of their stop unit, linebacker Devin White. The next three selections all addressed the anemic secondary, with Jamel Dean being the best of the bunch. Of those three choices, none individually scored worse than a “B” grade. Tampa’s fifth and final initial defensive choice also was graded highly, as the Anthony Nelson pick deserved an “A” because of its tremendous value.

I didn’t like what the Buccaneers did after that, as their final three picks were underwhelming. The worst of the bunch was the fifth-round choice on Matt Gay. You’d think the Buccaneers would’ve learned their lesson by now about using non-seventh-round picks on kickers. Maybe they’ll understand that concept one day.

That said, the end of the draft shouldn’t spoil Tampa’s earlier accomplishments. The Buccaneers put together an impressive draft class, one that should greatly elevate their defense.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

5. Devin White, LB, LSU B+ Grade
We return to sanity, which is nice. The Buccaneers had their choosing of Devin White, Ed Oliver or Josh Allen, and they couldn’t have gone wrong with either of the three. Bruce Arians said he wanted a “once in a generation-type player,” and White could be a perennial Pro Bowler for the next decade. White fills a huge need in the middle of Tampa’s poor defense, and he could finally bring some credibility and leadership to the stop unit. This is the right pick, though it’s one of three “right picks” Tampa could have made.

39. Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan B Grade
I had Sean Bunting slotted to the Buccaneers in the third round, but that was more of there being plenty of Round 2 cornerbacks available to find a slot for him. I considered Bunting to be a second-round prospect as well, so I think the range makes sense for them. Bunting is a versatile, talented cornerback, and he should be able to be a much-needed upgrade for a secondary that has struggled for quite some time. This is a solid choice.

94. Jamel Dean, CB, Auburn A Grade
Another cornerback makes sense, given how much trouble the Buccaneers have endured at the position. Jamel Dean is someone I consistently mocked in the second round for a while, but ultimately moved him into the third frame because of his injury history. Jamel Dean was banged up often at Auburn, but played well when completely healthy. Dean tested very well at the combine, so he definitely has great upside.

99. Mike Edwards, S, Kentucky B+ Grade
I mocked Mike Edwards five selections earlier than this, so I like the range for him. Edwards is a good athlete who was productive at Kentucky. He certainly could develop into a capable starter for the Buccaneers, who absolutely needed to find a safety after senselessly passing on Derwin James a year ago.

107. Anthony Nelson, DE/DT, Iowa A Grade
No, I’m not just in a good mood. These picks are awesome! The teams here are taking better prospects than those chosen in Round 3. Anthony Nelson could have snuck into Round 2 without much criticism. He was announced as a linebacker, but he looks to be a 3-4 defensive end in Tampa’s new scheme.

145. Matt Gay, K, Utah D Grade
I’d say not that there’s anything wrong with Matt Gay being the pick here, but there’s definitely something wrong with it. How many selections are the Buccaneers going to waste on kickers? They should add players who actually affect the first three downs of a game.

208. Scott Miller, WR, Bowling Green C Grade
Scott Miller projects as a slot receiver to replace Adam Humphries. He tested very well at his pro day, so I imagine the Buccaneers like his potential. However, I saw Miller as a UDFA target, so I’m not sure if he’ll be able to make the 53-man roster. This isn’t a very good pick as far as value is concerned, but that’s not a big deal at this point.

215. Terry Beckner Jr., DE/DT, Missouri C+ Grade
Terry Beckner makes sense as a seventh-round pick. He was productive at Missouri, but offers very limited athleticism in addition to a lengthy injury history and some off-the-field problems. Still, it wouldn’t be shocking if Beckner developed into a backup.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
Surprise, surprise. The Buccaneers underachieved with James Winston again. They’ll bring back Winston for at least one more year, but they’ll do so with a new head coach.

Offseason Moves:
  • Buccaneers sign DT Ndamukong Suh
  • Buccaneers cut DT Gerald McCoy
  • Buccaneers sign QB Blaine Gabbert
  • Buccaneers sign S Kentrell Brice
  • Buccaneers sign G Earl Watford
  • Buccaneers sign DE/OLB Shaq Barrett
  • Buccaneers sign WR Breshad Perriman
  • Buccaneers sign P Bradley Pinion
  • Buccaneers sign LB Deone Bucannon
  • Eagles acquire WR DeSean Jackson from Buccaneers

    Team Needs:
    1. Left Tackle: Donovan Smith is a bust. He wasn’t atrocious, but he failed to protect Jameis Winston’s blind side for the most part. Winston will be given one more shot, and for him to have the best chance, the Buccaneers will have to find a much better left tackle. Jawaan Taylor is an option in the opening round.

    2. Guard: Here’s another spot on the offensive line that must be addressed. Giving Winston the best protection possible is essential in figuring out if he’s truly the team’s franchise quarterback. Signed Earl Watford

    3. Two Cornerbacks: Protecting Winston is the top priority. If the Buccaneers can figure that out, they’ll need to focus on upgrading their atrocious secondary, which was responsible for one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.

    4. Safety: Safety is a position that must be upgraded as well to help the team play better against the pass. Hopefully the front office doesn’t pass on someone as talented as Derwin James again.

    5. Two Linebackers: Tampa’s linebacking corps was a mess last year. Part of the reason for that was Kwon Alexander’s season-ending injury, but he’s an impending free agent. If Alexander isn’t re-signed, two new linebackers will be needed. Signed Deone Bucannon

    6. Running Back: Perhaps it’s too early to say this, but Ronald Jones has looked like a complete bust thus far. Tampa should spend a pick between Rounds 2-4 to find a new running back.

    7. Quarterback: Winston hasn’t progressed at all. Perhaps he’ll develop with a new coaching staff, but his off-the-field issues are problematic as well. The Buccaneers should find another quarterback to groom as a replacement for Winston if he continues to struggle.

    8. Kicker: The Buccaneers need to finally solve their kicking woes.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Rams. Age: 32.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Ndamukong Suh had an impactful year with the Rams in 2018, but wasn’t quite the dominant force we’re used to seeing. Age is beginning to become a factor, as Suh turned 32 in January. Still, he should be a force in the interior for a couple more seasons.

    2. Bradley Pinion, P, 49ers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Buccaneers (4 years)

      Bradley Pinion was 10th in net punting average in 2017, but fell to 24th last year.

    3. Shaq Barrett, DE/OLB, Broncos. Age: 26.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $5 million)

      Shaq Barrett is a solid situational pass-rusher who plays the run well, too. Barrett didn’t have a chance to compete for a starting job behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Perhaps he’ll get that chance elsewhere.

    4. Breshad Perriman, WR, Browns. Age: 25.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $4 million)

      Breshad Perriman has played like a one-star player for most of his career, but he’s a former first-round pick, and he’s only 25. He also showed some potential late in the year with the Browns. There’s still time for Perriman to turn his career around.

    5. Deone Bucannon, LB, Cardinals. Age: 27.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Deone Bucannon was beyond atrocious last season. However, he’s a former first-round pick and should perform better in a 3-4 again.

    6. Kentrell Brice (RFA), S, Packers. Age: 25. — Signed with Buccaneers
    7. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Titans. Age: 29. — Signed with Buccaneers
    8. Earl Watford, G, Browns. Age: 29. — Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Gerald McCoy, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Panthers (1 year, $8 million)

      Gerald McCoy was the subject of trade rumors, but the Buccaneers had no leverage. He was released for financial reasons, as well as the fact that he’s not a good fit in the new 3-4. McCoy is no longer the dominant force he once was, but he’s still capable of playing on close to a Pro Bowl level. He turned 31 this offseason, so a sharp decline will come soon, but he should still have two or three more strong years remaining in the tank.

    2. Kwon Alexander, ILB, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
      Signed with 49ers (4 years, $54 million; $27 million guaranteed)

      Kwon Alexander played in only six games last year because he tore his ACL in late October. Alexander, a decent middle linebacker, should be ready to play by the season opener. He’s still only 25, so he still has time to improve his game.

    3. Adam Humphries, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Titans (4 years, $36 million)

      Adam Humphries is a quality slot receiver who caught 76 passes for 816 yards and five touchdowns. Humphries’ production has risen every year, and one has to wonder how he’d perform with a coaching staff that knew what it was doing.

    4. Vinny Curry, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      The stats don’t show it, but Vinny Curry was a very talented player for the Eagles. He hasn’t recorded more than 3.5 sacks since 2013, but he has provided a consistent pass rush prior to 2018. He’s also very effective in run support. This past season was different, as Curry struggled, but he could rebound in 2019.

    5. Ryan Griffin, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (2 years)

      The Buccaneers kept Ryan Griffin on the 53-man roster because he was exceptional in the preseason. Amazingly, he wasn’t given a single snap by the incompetent coaching staff. Griffin has yet to play a single down in the NFL, so it’s unclear how he’ll perform in live action.

    6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 36.
      Signed with Dolphins (2 years)

      Ryan Fitzpatrick has proven that he can be great for a game or two, but he’ll ultimately self-destruct. He’s a terrific backup quarterback.

    7. Peyton Barber (RFA), RB, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Peyton Barber is a tough runner who gained 871 yards last year despite running behind a poor blocking group. Barber shouldn’t be a starter in the NFL, but he’s a top-tier backup.

    8. Donovan Smith, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Franchised by Buccaneers

      As a former early-round pick, Donovan Smith was a major disappointment as Jameis Winston’s left tackle. However, he’s not a horrible player. Smith can be a quality backup swing tackle or guard in the NFL, but his days as a full-time starter should be over.

    9. Brent Grimes, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 36.
      Brent Grimes has enjoyed a great career, but he’s playing on his last legs. He should probably retire before he suffers further regression.

    10. Andrew Adams (RFA), S, Buccaneers. Age: 26. — Signed with Lions
    11. Cairo Santos, K, Buccaneers. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Buccaneers
    12. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 29.
    13. Adarius Taylor, OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Browns
    14. Bryan Anger, P, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
    15. Josh Shaw, S, Buccaneers. Age: 27. — Signed with Cardinals
    16. Alan Cross (RFA), TE, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
    17. Leonard Wester, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
    18. Cameron Lynch, OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
    19. Mitch Unrein, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 32.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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