As with any offseason, there are a plethora of questions and scenarios to discuss when it comes to roster moves.
It’s already a tough gig to wrap one’s head around, but it can be a lot tougher whenever it’s an entirely new coaching staff trying to evaluate and figure out what players will work out best.
With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers current cap situation and a lot of high-priced veteran players, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be some big moves made concerning the roster in the early stages of 2019.
1) Which big names will be let go?
Gerald McCoy. Desean Jackson. Cameron Brate. Vinny Curry.
Trust me, there are more.
Those are the names of potential cap casualties this offseason. Even though all three of those players have had large roles on the team, there is no guarantee that they will be back with the new coaching staff.
Tampa Bay doesn’t have a ton of cap space to work with in 2019. Teams generally set $8-$10 million aside for the draft, which leaves the Bucs even less room to operate with. Add in the potential contract extensions for Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith, Kwon Alexander, etc. - and it’s easy to see that moves will be made to cut down the spending in 2019.
It’s inevitable that the Bucs will let some big names go this offseason, the question is - who will it be?
2) The futures of Donovan Smith and Kwon Alexander
Both players have flashed greatness and both players have also frustrated the crap out of coaches and fans.
This one is tough. The offensive line and the defense were weak spots last season, so it doesn’t make sense to ditch two former starters. But Smith’s inconsistencies and the unknowns of Alexander’s recovery from knee surgery are two big factors that will play into the Bucs’ decision regarding these two.
That’s a lot of money for a cap-strapped team to spend on two players with question marks. Obviously, the Bucs can only franchise one of these two as well. Will Tampa Bay franchise one and let the other walk/extend them?
There aren’t many that envy general manager Jason Licht when it comes to this decision.
3) Does Adam Humphries stay in Tampa Bay?
He’s improved every single year and set career-high marks in 2019. But just like all of the other bubble players, it remains to be seen if Hump fits in with the new staff.
There’s no reason to think he won’t fit in. He works his ass off, has a great reputation with Winston, and is a smart player who can work the hell out of some underneath routes.
It’s also important to consider the depth at the wide receiver position if Jackson is released. The Bucs will need production to offset his absence and Humphries can provide just that.
New head coach Bruce Arians loves tough, team-before-me type players. He’s only 25 years old, but may be in the market for a big contract after a near-1,000 yard season.
It’d be a surprise if Hump isn’t donning the pewter and red come September, but we’ve seen crazier things happen in the NFL.
4) Did Cairo Santos do enough to keep his job?
Bucs fans everywhere let out a huge sigh of relief after Santos came out and made 14 consecutive kicks (including both field goals and extra points) during his first three games as a Buccaneer.
Santos finished strong, hitting 12/15 kicks over the remaining four games of the season. In all, he finished 9/12 (.750%) kicking field goals and was a perfect 17/17 kicking extra points.
He did miss both field goal attempts against the Saints and one against the Cowboys. Granted, the misses came from 40, 46, and 52 - but it’s still a bit concerning considering the fact that Santos struggled with getting kickoffs into the end zone.
The lack of leg strength is worrisome. In today’s game, you need to score points from all over the field, so leg strength in a kicker is a pretty big deal. Just ask the Los Angeles Rams.
Santos played well in 2018, but there is no guarantee that he will stay on the roster for 2019.
5) Who will back up Jameis?
This is actually a pretty big deal. Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely to retire and even if he doesn’t, there is no guarantee that Arians will want to bring him back for another go.
Winston can be volatile in his actions both on the field and off the field. It’s crucial that the Bucs find a suitable backup in case that a) Winston doesn’t show that he is the answer at the position for the long term, or b) Winston gets in trouble again and is suspended indefinitely by the league.
And of course, the injury factor is at play, too. You never know when tragedy will strike during a game.
Ryan Griffin isn’t the answer, otherwise he would’ve taken a meaningful snap during the Dirk Koetter tenure.
Arians will probably look for someone who has familiarity within his system, but it also wouldn’t be a bad idea to look toward the draft, either.
There’s no doubt that Arians and his staff will have their work cut out for them during the offseason. The Bucs’ situation is very similar to the Cardinals’ situation when he took over in 2013 - a good mix of talented, athletic young players and veteran players who can compete when put in the right position.
There’s also no guarantee that the Bucs will go 10-6 in Arians’ first year a la Arizona, but there is plenty of reason to have the confidence that he’ll put the Bucs on the right path if he can find the answers to these questions.