Over at ESPN, Bill Barnwell is going through every NFL division and every NFL team to list the top five offseason moves for every team. Today, he went over the NFC South -- including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of course.
Barnwell starts off a little oddly: move number one for the Bucs is to cut Alterraun Verner, Bruce Carter and Evan Smith. Verner and Smith are almost certain to return, with Smith's $2 million salary low enough to make next to no impact on the Bucs' cap situation. Cutting Carter would make sense, unless Mike Smith finds a new use for them, but adding more cap space to a team that has $50 million of it should never be the number one priority, really.
Barnwell's second priority: wait to re-sign Doug Martin to get him cheaper. I'm not sure that's going to work out -- you risk losing Martin to a team willing to overpay for his services -- but it does seem to be what the Bucs will do. But then Barnwell starts to make sense. Third: don't cut Vincent Jackson, which the Bucs indeed won't. Fourth and fifth: find two pass rusher. Now we're talking.
Of course, finding a pass-rusher is easier said than done. Free agency and the draft are both gambles, as they always are. We've seen free agent after free agent bust in Tampa -- but the same is true for draft picks, especially edge rushers. Barnwell advocates going after Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Tamba Hali and everyone else who hits the market. It's risky advice: the Bucs have to find pass rushers if they want to be successful, but the danger is always that you sign those busts -- and then you're left with giving snaps to a failed pass rusher for at least half a season.
But that risk will always be there, and here's what will happen if the Bucs don't address the defensive end position this offseason: they won't have a pass rush.