The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not interested in signing arguably the best guard in the NFL, according to Pewter Report. Evan Mathis, released yesterday by the Philadelphia Eagles, is too old and expensive for their tastes.
The Bucs aren't interested in signing Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who was released by Philadelphia on Thursday. Mathis will be 34, coming off an injury and wouldn't take a pay cut. Tampa Bay already has an aging guard with Pro Bowl credentials in Logan Mankins. They don't need two.
Tampa Bay is better served playing second-round pick Ali Marpet as a rookie and accelerating his learning curve as much as possible. Playing Marpet along with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston this year is in the team's best interest for the long haul.
Allow me to vehemently disagree. Yes, players get better by actually playing football and putting Marpet on the bench won't help him develop more quickly. But the long-term future of one second-round pick isn't the only thing the Buccaneers need to be concerned about: they have, like, games to win. This year.
The Bucs are already set to start a whole lot of question marks on the line. Will rookie left tackle Donovan Smith adapt quickly enough? Will Logan Mankins look more like 2012 instead of 2013-14, when he was solid at best and a liability at worst? Can Evan Smith get over whatever the hell was up with him last season? Will Demar Dotson hold out? And, of course, can Marpet even adapt to the NFL level, ever? Some of the answers to those questions will be 'no' and Mathis would prevent the Bucs from having to find out the consequences of not being prepared for that eventuality.
Oh, and then there's that other massive question mark that plagues every offensive line: what happens when someone goes down with injury? Because someone will go down with injury. Are you really going to tell me that you'll be glad that you didn't sign Evan Mathis when you're forced to start Kadeem Edwards or, god forbid, Garrett freaking Gilkey? Did last year -- or every year I can remember -- teach the Buccaneers nothing?
Marpet is a nice prospect with a lot of physical talent, someone who could develop into a very good starter. But there's no guarantee that he'll do that, and there's even less of a guarantee that he'll do that as a rookie. Every player comes with risk, of course, but Mathis' risk is fairly limited. He's played at a ridiculously high level for four consecutive years now, and his decline last year was very minor. There really is very little reason to believe that he can't be a good starter for one or two more years. Throw some money at the man and start him.
But the Bucs are supposed to let that go because a rookie they drafted at the end of the second round is somehow more important than the functioning of their offensive line as a whole?