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Three ways the Buccaneers can solve their guard problems

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have issues at guard, but they can solve those problems in three different ways. Or at least reduce them.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The semi-retirement of Carl Nicks was hardly a surprise, but it's still a problem for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jason Licht repeatedly stated that he knew this was a real possibility, and that they took this into account when they went through free agency and the draft. But he also noted that it's possible they could find a starting guard elsewhere. So let's look at the three ways they can mitigate their problems.

1. Pick up a veteran free agent

At this point in time, available free agents aren't exactly worthy starters. Because if they were, they wouldn't be available on the open market. That's just the reality of the NFL. That could change a little as teams cut their rosters during training camp, but no one's cutting a capable starter. If anyone gets cut, it's because they were too expensive for what they were bringing to the team.

The most well-known player still available on the market now is Richie Incognito. He can probably start, but he's not exactly a quality locker room player. Signing him while trading away Mike Williams is just a little inconsistent. That's not to say it can't work, but it doesn't really fit the Bucs' way of operating so far.

Other available players include Travelle Wharton, who may be thinking about retirement but hasn't made that official; Wade Smith, who's old and very much on the downside of his career; and Harvey Dahl, who's basically in the same boat as Wade Smith.

2. Trade for a veteran

The most obvious candidate here would be Alex Boone, who is holding out of San Francisco 49ers training camp in hopes of securing a new deal. The fifth-year player is just 27 years old and has played well as a starter on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL over the past two years. But he's far from the 49ers' best player, and they can't pay every player.

The problem with trading for any player is that you're giving up both draft picks (or other players) and a big contract for your new addition. The Bucs have the cap space to do so, but not really the draft ammunition. Their modus operandi so far has been to trade away players and add draft picks, not give them up. That's not to say that they can't do that, but it's probably not their preferred course of action.

3. Do Nothing

This is what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are doing right now: nothing. It's not a bad strategy, if they're confident in the players they have on the roster. Jamon Meredith is probably best as a swing backup, but it's not a disaster if he starts at guard. Their best bet opposite Meredith is to hope one of the many players in camp stands out as a backup.

And they do have a group of players with potential, who at least present decent depth. Kadeem Edwards and Patrick Omameh are the most likely candidates to take a step forward and produce some decent play. Competition can bring out the best in players, and while those players may be unknown to us, they're not unknown to the coaching staff.