The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to win this year. They certainly have their eye on the future, but everything they do screams "win now". Trading for Revis, obviously, fits that view. But now we have a new one: the Buccaneers want to trade back up into the first round, or at least that's what Stephen Holder told Justin Pawlowski on 98.7 the Fan. The words he used were "try like hell". Mark Dominik said as much yesterday, too, when he noted that they had prospects they would try to trade up for if they fell far enough in his press conference.
That presents a few problems, though. The Bucs just traded away two draft picks, they'll have some issues with cap space next year and having lots of draft picks helps alleviate some cap issues by replacing more expensive veterans. And yet, the Buccaneers want to trade away a few of those tasty, cheap draft picks for a first-round pick? Why?
Well, I can think of three reasons. First, they think there's a big talent dropoff toward the end of the first round. That's not the consensus view of most draftniks as far as I can see, but it's a possibility. The second possibility is related to contracts. Players in the second half of the first round get five years on their contracts, while those in the second round get four years. Hence, a first round pick is automatically more valuable because you get an extra year of cheap labor. The cost can be mitigated, too. The Buccaneers still want to trade running back Legarrette Blount, and he could factor in a trade. It would free up some cap space this season, which can be rolled over to next year, while still allowing them to keep their draft picks.
The third reason is probably the biggest reason: the Buccaneers want to win now, and a late first-rounder helps them more than an early second-rounder, simply because he'd be a better player. Late rounders generally don't make a big impact early in their careers, so trading a few of those picks won't hurt the Buccaneers now. It will just hurt them in two years -- but Mark Dominik and Greg Schiano will deal with that when they get to it. If they get fired for failing this year, they won't get to worry about it after all.
One more thing: this could very well be a bunch of nonsense, too. NFL front offices spread misinformation like a disease this time of year. We could see that last year: how many people reported the Bucs were interested in Mark Barron before they took him with their first-rounder? And what about the reports that suggested the Buccaneers really wanted to sign multiple cornerbacks in free agency this year? Yeah, about that.
But if this report is correct, who could the Buccaneers target at the end of the first round?
Who they could target
DE Margus Hunt, SMU
Pewter Report has been pushing the idea that the Buccaneers love Margus Hunt, and they have him as the Bucs' second-round pick in their latest mock draft. Hunt's incredibly raw and a little old, but he has ridiculous athletic skills. He's huge at 6'8", 277 lbs, but as an Estonian Olympic athlete he doesn't have much experience as
More importantly, though, I don't know how he fits the Buccaneers. I've most often heard him projected as a 3-4 defense end, which would likely make him a three-technique for the Bucs. But that's Gerald McCoy's job, and they're not about to replace him. The next closest position is base defensive end -- but that's Da'Quan Bowers' job, and they absolutely love Bowers. Hunt probably won't be able to play right defensive end because he's a little stiff turning the edge -- so what does that leave for Hunt? Where are you going to plug him in?
The Buccaneers still need a third cornerback, and some good players will fall. Maybe Dee Milliner's medical issues will push him down, maybe Xavier Rhodes is too limited for some teams, maybe Desmond Trufant has too many things to work on, maybe D.J. Hayden slides for....well I wouldn't really know why, but I would take him.
Point is: the Buccaneers still need a cornerback and there will be some option late in the first round. If one strikes their fancy and they feel like he won't be available once they pick, they could trade up for him.
TE Zach Ertz, Stanford
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers still need a starting tight end, as Luke Stocker and Tom Crabtree simply aren't good enough. Zach Ertz is the consensus second-best tight end in the draft and he should be available late in the first round. If the Bucs can jump up for him at an amenable price, they may just do it to fill the only real hole remaining on their roster.
A middle linebacker
A lot of linebackers will be available toward the end of the first round, and the Buccaneers could upgrade their middle linebacker position. Mason Foster is a solid starter, but he does lack some fluidity and speed in pass coverage -- so look for them to upgrade in that regard, pushing Foster to the outside. LSU's Kevin Minter, Kansas State's Arthur Brown and Oregon's Kiko Alonso may be a few players to look out for. Don't count on Manti Te'o, who seems to project mostly as a two-down linebacker.
How much would it cost?
The Buccaneers would have to trade up from the 43rd pick of the draft to, say, the 30th pick in the draft. That's a move of 13 picks. Can we find any comparables in last year's draft? Sadly, we can't. But we can make an educated guess!
In 2011, the New Orleans Saints traded a future first-round pick and their second-round pick (#56) to jump way up to #28. That's a move of 28 picks, and the Buccaneers are never giving up a future first-round pick just to trade up, so that's out. At the same time, we can't look to the Bucs' move up last year. They moved up five picks at the end of the first round giving up just 25 slots in the fourth round. Just a few picks before that the Broncos moved back six slots for a fourth-round pick. Meanwhile, the Bucs didn't actually lose a draft pick, and I can't see that trade happening again.
The best comparable may be when the Minnesota Vikings moved up from the 35th pick to the 29th pick late last year. That cost the Vikings their fourth-round selection. Here's a fun coincidence: the Buccaneers have two fourth-round picks this year, so they certainly have the ammunition to pull off that move. They could throw in Legarrette Blount if the team they're trading with is interested, too. A fourth-rounder alone may not be enough, but it wouldn't cost much more than that.
The Buccaneers may trade back into the first round, or they may simply stay put. But you will see a lot of trades for the Bucs this season, as we did last year. Mark Dominik targets players and likes to move around to ensure he gets the players he wants. Whether he moves back to collect more picks or moves up for a player, the Bucs will be active on draft day. Count on that.