Adam Schefter of NFL.com explains how the Buccaneers have $45 Million in Salary Cap space and how they might add to that number with salary cap adjustments and roster cuts. He then points out the key Free Agents the Bucs will have to wrestle other teams to retain: QBs Jeff Garcia and Luke McCown, WRs Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton, and TE Jerramy Stevens. Excuse Adam if he mistakenly left out S Jermaine Phillips and FB B.J. Askew, they aren’t exactly house hold names.
Of these players who do you want the Bucs to invest that salary cap back into? Antonio Bryant? No doubt! At what number though? Three years at $6 million a season? Too much? Too little? What have you? How about Jermaine Phillips? A lot has been said about the Buccaneers lack of quality depth leading to their monumental collapse this season. Does Bruce Allen let Jermaine go, so that Sabby Piscitelli can man the position full time? Do you think Sabby is ready for that? How about Jerramy Stevens? Many feel Gruden didn’t utilize him enough or correctly, why retain him if that’s the case? That would be like bringing back Joey Galloway just to sit him on the sidelines.
Here’s my thoughts on Jeff Garcia: If you aren’t going to turn to Josh Johnson and let the team/fan base grow with him, you might as well bring Jeff Garcia back. #1 Luke McCown is not a viable option; the guy couldn’t beat out Brian Griese. That’s not to say Griese is bad, it’s to say McCown is incapable of leading this team. Simply put: Move on already. #2 There isn’t a single Free Agent QB worth the time and money (outside of Matt Cassell, who will be franchise tagged and cost at minimum two first round draft picks). #3 Any Free Agent QB that is brought in will have to learn Gruden’s system. Which is tough, Michael Bennett couldn’t do it, Dexter Jackson hasn’t been able to do it, and even Garcia was benched last season for reasons unknown to us. It’s not the ideal situation, as I feel Garcia has taken this team as far as he could in two seasons. It’s what’s in the cards however.
The next question is, what do the Bucs do with that Cap Space? Albert Haynesworth can go a long way in solidifying the defensive line with his gap clogging abilities and his ability to pressure the Quarterback. He would be the closest thing to Warren Sapp this fan base has seen, especially with his propensity to lose it (remember that head he stomped a few years ago?). You have to figure he would eat a large portion of the cap space literally and figuratively. Around $10-$15 million a season? Too much? Too less? What have you?
As much as I’d like to steal LB Channing Crowder from the Dolphins, Linebacker is the one position I feel the Bucs do have decent depth at so long as the guys stay healthy (McCoy, Hayes, and Black). With Ronde Barber nearing the end of his career, I would think 1st round draft pick, Aqib Talib would be capable of filling those shoes, maybe even as soon as next season. Have Ronde get in the Nickel and have Talib on the field full time. Raheem may even want to limit more of Ronde’s playing time. I wouldn’t, I think he just had a down year, a down year in which he almost led the team in interceptions.
We all know I’d much rather have Julius Peppers become a Buccaneer this off-season. Granted I’m a bit over the top in my fascination with the guy, but he’s clearly a Pro Bowl type player and potential hall of famer. He’s all but guaranteed to be franchise tagged though and we know the Bucs aren’t going to pay that guy any way. I would like to see the Bucs either prep Jeremy Zuttah (remember that guy?) to push Jeremy Trueblood or bring someone else in altogether to push Trueblood. As far as B.J. Askew, I’m on the fence. On one hand, the guy is a gamer and a rock solid producer. On the other hand, he’s rarely on the field due to injuries or he doesn’t get the necessary opportunities in short yardage situations to warrant being brought back. What have you?
What do you want to see take place this off-season with the Buccaneers and player movement? Who do you want to see return? What new blood would you inject into the team?