Who’s given up on the season? If you haven’t; you’ve surely given up on the idea of the Bucs making it out of the Wildcard Playoff Round while playing on the road! So let’s discuss something relevant and not so depressing, right… This is the BIGGEST off-season in the Franchise’s history, simply put. Don’t believe me? Monte Kiffin, the sultan of swat, the king of clash, the sole purpose for the Bucs even remotely having a decent team over the past decade is leaving the NFL and the Bucs for Tennessee. Jeff Garcia becomes a free agent at season’s end and nobody who cares to watch meaningful football in December and beyond cares to bring his brittle act back. The Buccaneers have mountains of cash to potentially shoulder the blow of seeking a Quarterback and keeping the defense at the level fans have come to expect.
In steps Carolina Panthers Defensive End and sure to be franchise tagged Julius Peppers. He leads the NFC South in sacks with 11 and we have the money to lure him away from Carolina. The problem ensues when we would have to forfeit two first round draft picks to the Panthers, if in fact they franchise tag him (a given) and we sign him (not such a given). I’m not going to argue the merits of holding onto a late first round pick this season and potentially a low or high end first round pick in 2010, as its anyone’s guess as to who they would net and what their upside would or wouldn’t mean for this franchise. I know adding Peppers to Gaines Adams, Barrett Ruud, Tanard Jackson, Aqib Talib, and Jermaine Phillips would help the Buccaneers defense remain top notch no matter who were to take over (hopefully Raheem Morris).
The Quarterback position, sigh. It’s almost not worth debating considering Gruden will just turn to a retread (Griese or McCown) next season, but let’s discuss it any way. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to grow with a young Quarterback aka Josh Johnson. I thought I wanted the Bucs to pursue a veteran QB like Donovan McNabb, but he and Gruden would be destined for girl school esque drama. Give Johnson the pigskin and see what he can do with his accuracy and mobility. Garcia looks like he’s constantly improvising out there, so surely Johnson could do the same at a more hectic and almost unbearable clip to watch, but at least you know growth is coming at the end of the day. In the event that next season turns into a (4-12) season or worse and Gruden has banished Johnson to the sidelines, at least Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy could be potential suitors to finally give this Franchise a, Franchise Quarterback to grow with… What have you?