Analysts love what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did this offseason, which shows up every time they set out to grade every NFL team’s efforts. Yet again. Because I feel like I’ve seen two dozen of those efforts this year.
ESPN got to it again, and gave the Bucs an A- this time. So hey, more people think they did a good job this year. Jenna Laine explained why she loves the Bucs offseason, but also what she thinks they missed out on.
With two of their best pure pass-rushers -- Jacquies Smith and Noah Spence -- coming off injuries and George Johnson recovering from a fractured hip, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to sign another edge rusher as insurance. The downside to that would have been cost, however. Good pass-rushers don't come cheap, and the Bucs needed to position themselves to sign Mike Evans to a long-term and well-deserved contract extension pretty soon.
One problem here: there really weren’t that many quality edge rushers they could have signed, or drafted—most quality defensive linemen were more hybrid players in the mold of Robert Ayers and William Gholston. This was not the year of difference-making pass-rushers, sadly—that was last season, when they drafted Spence.
The Bucs now need to hope that Spence and Smith will be healthy, and will continue to develop as pass-rushers. They’re both promising players, but they have yet to really break out. Relying on them is a risk, but it’s a justifiable one with few realistic alternatives.
More importantly, the Buccaneers did most everything else right this offseason. They got quality players as well as depth in free agency, and added promising talent for the future and some immediate upgrades in the draft. That warrants yet another good grade.