One burning question nagging fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this off-season has been whether or not the team will make a move on the offensive line.
Well, in short, the answer is yes. And this answer creates an even bigger question.
Talking with The Pewter Report after his time on the podium at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jason Licht stated both Caleb Benenoch and M.J. Stewart would be changing positions for the upcoming 2019 season.
#Bucs GM Jason Licht said position changes are coming for MJ Stewart, who will play SS and FS, Caleb Benenoch moving to RT.— PewterReport (@PewterReport) February 27, 2019
A lot of angst has been aimed at Benenoch for his struggles as a first year starter at right guard for the Bucs last season. It would appear these observations were not solely those of the fan base as the organization has decided to move the third-year player back out to right tackle.
In 2018, Benenoch had just one game (Week 15 in Baltimore) graded out above 70 by Pro Football Focus. He had seven where he graded out below 50.
Alternately, as a rookie in 2017, Benenoch appeared for Tampa Bay in ten games as a tackle. He had six games where he graded at 60 or higher, and two where he came in under 50. Not bad for a rookie back-up.
However, his move inside proved to be his undoing last season, so a move back outside will hopefully allow him to regain some of the upward momentum he had coming out of 2017 and rebuild some of the confidence he’s surely lost since.
Now, the question will shift to who will play right guard for the Buccaneers moving forward? I doubt there are many who believe Alex Cappa is ready to assume a full-time starting role, but there’s no Quenton Nelson in this draft class worth spending a Top-5 pick on either.
One option who may become a popular choice is Mike Iupati who is an unrestricted free-agent and knows Bruce Arians’ system from their time together in Arizona.
To learn more on Iupati, check out his free-agent spotlight, done by our own James Yarcho.
Of course, another point of speculation will turn to the NFL Draft with some solid interior linemen coming out in this year’s class.
A trade back scenario where the Buccaneers stockpile draft picks and select Alabama’s Jonah Williams would be one such scenario that could really elevate the offensive line in a hurry.
M.J. Stewart’s move to strong safety is not necessarily a surprise, but it too opens more questions about the cornerback depth and talent for the Bucs in 2019.
Carlton Davis III looks like a solid investment while Vernon Hargreaves III has shown flashes of talent but has been hampered by injuries for the last two years. Beyond those two, the Bucs have players like Ryan Smith and David Rivers under contract while Javien Elliott is a restricted free-agent and Devante Harris is an exclusive rights free-agent.
No matter how you slice it, the Bucs don’t have much depth there or much experience. So, finding one or both would be a smart move.
A fact not lost on the general manager. Asked about his secondary and whether a veteran presence was a target this off-season, Licht said,
“Ideally you’d like to have that. I don’t think you can just, once again you can’t just go sign anybody and say just because he’s a veteran he’s going to help our room.”
Move are being made to shape your 2019 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And if early indications are any clue to the future, there are going to be plenty more to come.