Up until Friday night’s news of the Bucs winning over center Ryan Jensen, this article was going to have a completely different feel to it. Fortunately that’s not the case.
There are still many holes unanswered on the Buccaneers roster. Surely they are still scouring the wire as well as doing homework on guys available. But it’s not enough to tame the fire that brushes through Tampa Bay’s fan base.
The team has at least attempted to address depth so far. It was evident last preseason that depth was a major concern. Once the starters left games, the reserves didn’t fare so well. They tried to address the situation as the season began (see T.J. Ward) but all attempts failed.
Aside from retaining a few of their own, the team brought in some new names. Let’s take a look at what that can mean for the roster.
Ryan Jensen: This is an obvious good move by the team. People have pointed out Jensen’s limited time as a starter, but I challenge you to look at who he was initially playing behind. Jensen was waiting for a great opportunity and once that opportunity came up for him in Baltimore, he played exceptionally well. His grit at the center position will bring a toughness to the line. And as noted Friday night, this will allow Ali Marpet to move back to right guard upgrading that position as well.
Beau Allen: The Bucs signing of Allen was not making many excited but the team may be losing defensive tackle Clinton McDonald to free agency. So in essence, this was a good move. The money thrown at him leads us to believe he will be starting. Much like Jensen, Allen was playing on a line stacked with talent in Philadelphia. Many within the Eagles organization did not want to lose him to free agency, and same goes for their fans. However, Allen (and the Bucs) are aware of his potential for playing alongside Gerald McCoy inside. Known for his run stopping ability, he brings better promise for a phase of the Bucs defense that struggled in 2017.
Mitch Unrein: This signing was merely for depth, and rightfully so. Unrein’s ability to play anywhere on the defensive line is a huge plus for the Bucs. With the ability to play inside at tackle, Unrein played as defensive end in Chicago’s 3-4 defensive setup. His 2.5 sacks in 2017 was better than William Gholston and Robert Ayers combined. Factor in the return of Noah Spence in 2018, the defensive front can now have a decent rotation and multiple looks due to versatility.
Chandler Catanzaro: There’s not much to say about a kicker, but the team hopes to sure up this important aspect of the game. The team brought back Pat Murray last season and made 82.6 percent of his field goal attempts with the longest coming from 50 yards out. Catanzaro finished the season with the New York Jets at a success rate of 83.3 percent of field goals made and a longest of 57 yards. He was 2-for-2 from 50-plus yards in 2017.
The Buccaneers now head into the second week of free agency with still some decent names left on the free agency list. There is still time to bolster the depth on the roster at crucial positions.