The NFL trade deadline is coming up tomorrow, and that means the NFL is awash with trade rumors. Not that many of them are going to actually come true: mostly, teams are floating names out there to see if someone's willing to pay a hefty price to salvage their season. A few years ago, Andrew Brandt neatly laid out why so little happens once the deadline rolls around.
That said, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a tradition of making some minor and not-so-minor deals at the deadline. Last year, they traded Mark Barron to the St. Louis Rams and Jonathan Casillas to the New England Patriots. In 2012, they moved Aqib Talib to the Patriots. In 2010, they traded for Alex Magee. They haven't exactly added a ton of talent to their team at the trade deadline, but they haven't exactly sit still.
So what could Tampa Bay do this year? It's important to keep in mind that Lovie Smith and Jason Licht have to fear for their jobs just a little. They can't afford to hold a fire sale, because a losing streak could easily see them fired at the end of the season. That means they're more likely to use trades to add a little bit of talent and fill some crucial holes on the roster.
The Bucs won't trade for an offensive lineman, though. They should be getting Demar Dotson back at some point in the next couple of weeks, and while the line hasn't been perfect it also hasn't been a problem. Besides, they're not about to bench either of their second-round picks -- even if Donovan Smith continues to be inconsistent.
The Bucs could, however, trade for players at two positions: defensive end and cornerback. The Bucs defense is a mess right now: they can't cover anyone, and they can't get to the quarterback with any kind of consistency either. Jacquies Smith has been a disappointment since a fast start to the season, George Johnson has been mostly invisible and William Gholston continues to be mostly a run-stopper. Worse, both Smith and Gholston suffered injuries against the Falcons. Help is needed.
The same could be said of the cornerback position, where everyone is playing some terrible football. Somehow, that most innovative of concepts the "slant route" (yes, those are sarcastic quotes) is causing the Bucs some massive issues. Fixing that would go a long way towards making this team a lot more competitive.
So with that said, let's look at some of the moves the Bucs could make.
Players the Buccaneers could trade for
CB Pierre Desire, Cleveland Browns
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers desperately need cornerback help, and the Cleveland Browns are holding a veritable fire sale right now, with reports coming out that they're willing to trade just about any veteran worth anything. Desir's name hasn't leaked, but last year's fourth-round pick would make a good trade target. He's getting very little playing time in Cleveland, behind Joe Haden, Justin Gilbert and Tramon Williams, and he's got the size and speed the Bucs like in their cornerbacks. Given his lack of playing time and fourth-round status, he could be available for fairly cheap.
The downside: it can take a long time for cornerbacks to adjust to Lovie Smith's defense. Some of the Bucs' cornerbacks still don't seem to get it, and Desir's not getting on the field in Cleveland doubtless has something to do with the quality of his play, too.
LB/DE Barkevious Mingo, Cleveland Browns
Speaking of the Browns, they also have two pass rushers for sale: Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo, according to Mary Kay Cabot. The Bucs need edge rushers, and Mingo is probably the best fit given that Kruger's old and has only played linebacker in his NFL career.
Since being picked sixth overall in 2013, Mingo has just seven sacks but did flash the explosiveness he displayed in college. He just hasn't been able to translate that into production, and he's barely getting on the field this year.
A move to the Bucs would also mean shifting back to defensive end, putting his hand in the dirt, and just going after the passer. Given that that's what he did best in college, the Bucs could be a pretty good fit for him -- even if he is undersized for a defensive end. Given his lack of production and decreasing playing time, he shouldn't be too expensive.
DE Willie Young, Chicago Bears
Willie Young continues to not get on the field in Chicago, with just seven snaps this week. He's 30 years old, but he's an explosive pass rusher who's miscast in the Bears' 3-4 defense. Move him to defensive end and he should have some productive snaps in him, even if only as a pass-rush specialist. He had ten sacks in that role last year, and the Bucs could really use an explosive pass rusher. Why hasn't this trade been made yet?
Players the Buccaneers might trade
QB Mike Glennon
This isn't likely to happen, but there are some teams that could view Mike Glennon as a temporary solution, or even future starting quarterback. He's under contract through 2016 and he's obviously not displacing Jameis Winston, while the Bucs picked up Glennon's replacement off waivers earlier this year in Ryan Griffin. The Bucs are going to trade Glennon at some point, and it's most likely to be next offseason, but it's not entirely inconceivable that some time blows them out of the water with an offer before the trade deadline.
Not inconceivable, but not likely either. Any team that does so would have to wait while Glennon learns the new system, and by the time that's done and he can start actually paying some football the season will be almost over. He's more likely to stick around in Tampa and be traded to a team that wants to give him an offseason to learn the system next April.
WR Vincent Jackson
Jackson's still a capable receiver, and arguably even an explosive one -- or at least a reliable veteran who can help out the Bucs in a variety of ways. But he also only has 21 catches for 319 yards, almost half of which came in just one game against the Carolina Panthers. At nearly $10 million both this season and the next, Jackson isn't really living up to his pay. If the Bucs plan to save money by cutting him next year, which is entirely plausible, they may decide that getting something for him in trade this season is preferable.
Of course, that would also mean a hefty blow to any playoff aspirations the Bucs have left -- and it's unlikely Jason Licht and Lovie Smith are willing to risk their jobs just to add a draft pick for a regime they may not even be a part of.
C Evan Smith
Evan Smith was benched for the second straight game, and this time he was fully healthy. At $4 million this year and $2.5 million in 2016, he's a likely cap casualty in the offseason and the Bucs may just decide to get what they can for him in trade -- either now, or once the offseason rolls around. That said, he is a versatile backup who can snap the ball, and those always have some value even as a backup.