Assuming Darrelle Revis is a Buccaneer, our attention in this years draft immediately turns to a starting caliber left offensive tackle. I know it may not be flashy or a position that will help us much in 2013, but since many were willing to mortgage the whole draft for Revis anyway, building depth and planning for the future are not bad options. Here's why.
Although we have the cap space today to sign Revis, it will hurt some point in the future, starting next year. Many NFL teams deal with cap issues on a yearly basis and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have done a good job (or cheap job) avoiding this issue for a while now. "Cap-hell" is not the end of the world, it does however force each team to make difficult decisions each off-season. We all witnessed the supper bowl champs, Baltimore Ravens say goodbye to many star players this year. While Revis might help us make the playoff this year, we need to start thinking about what tough decision we will have to make in the 2014 off-season and beyond.
Of course there are a lot of question marks, will Freeman be good enough to resign? How good, Joe Flacco good? Any major injuries? etc. Chances are management has a list of players that are "Must Haves", players like Gerald McCoy. This also means there is a list of "Expendables".
"Expendables" are players that we can part with to clear cap space, players that are getting old or are under performing their salary. Mark Dominick did a great job these past few year in structuring contracts for this purpose. To speculate, the player that is most vulnerable to being cut next off season is Donald Penn.
Penn has for the most part been one of the hardest workers on the team, he has performed admirably over the years and even made a pro-bowl. Last season he showed some decline and he has had some struggles getting in shape. I will speculate and say this is his last year here, but who will take his place?
Right now, we have very little depth on the offensive line, especially Left Tackle. If we did part with Penn, no one in my mind could be an adequate replacement. Also, we would be hard pressed to find a starter in free agency, since we would be looking to reduce the salary and good LTs don't hit free agency often. We could look to get one in the 2014 draft, but then again, we might be looking for a QB too.
So, assuming we still have a few draft picks (hopefully at least a 2nd) this year, we need to find Penn's replacement. He could add depth for us this year and be groomed to be a starter for 2014. I doubt we will have any chance at Lane Johnson, but Kyle Long might be an option in the 2nd round.