The Four Horsemen! With the addition of Kellen Winslow via trade (2009 2nd Round & 2010 5th Round Draft Picks) and the re-signing of Jerramy Stevens, the Buccaneers are fairly set at the tight end position with four bodies. The other two rounding out the quartet are Alex Smith and John Gilmore. Any other franchise in the league would avoid stock piling Tight Ends, but with the Bucs it’s to be expected considering their past Quarterback infatuations. Will the Bucs enter the regular season with Four Tight Ends? I’m not so sure, let’s look at the possibilities:
Scenario #1: Trade one of the following: John Gilmore or Alex Smith. We all know Kellen Winslow and Jerramy Stevens are pass catching tight ends. Alex Smith is a solid blocker, but he’s not on the same level as Gilmore who specializes in it. When looking to acquire a Tight End I would venture to say that a pass catching tight end would fetch more in return than a blocking tight end and so Alex Smith makes the most sense to ship out. Especially considering we don’t need three pass catching tight ends.
What is Alex Smith worth? In 2005 the Bucs spent a 3rd Round Draft Pick to nab him. It’s fair to say he’s been moderately effective averaging 30 receptions, over 300 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns a season in his four years with the Bucs. He’s always been on the cusp of having a breakout season, but for whatever reason his breakout never materializes. With that it’s tough to gauge his worth, as a Tight End like Kellen Winslow who has a serious injury history and averages twice as many receptions and yardage as Smith warranted a 2nd and 5th round Draft Pick from the Bucs. I think we all agree we overpaid for Kellen, but the bar has been set. At this point I would be comfortable with receiving a 4th Round Draft Pick for Alex Smith.
We could probably get a 3rd Round Draft Pick if we traded with ourselves, that would be counterproductive though.
Scenario #2: We retain all of our tight ends. It’s a crazy idea I know, but in the NFL where injuries run rampant and we have Kellen Winslow who is susceptible to injury at any time, it may not be a bad idea to hold on to all four of our guys. Plus think of the mismatches they could present. You have to think Kellen will be used more as a wideout than a traditional tight end. Using a two tight end set with Stevens, Winslow, and Bryant on the field would be challenging for any defense to defend. It would be up to Jags to shake up the formations so defenses don’t see Gilmore on the field and automatically think run. Although with Gilmore and one of Smith, Stevens, or Winslow on the field the defense still has to respect the pass and prepare for the run. With four tight ends we have plenty of players to spread the 60+ catches releasing Galloway and Hilliard opened up.
Conclusion: If I had to bet I would expect this team to carry three Tight Ends into the regular season, meaning somebody will be traded/released. It doesn’t make much sense to have six roster spots going to kickers and tight ends on a team that suffered last season with depth issues and for a team that is currently fielding unknowns at key positions on defense (LB, DL, and DB). What do you think, field the four horseman come the regular season? Have a battle in Camp or attempt to get value now out of one of them via trade?