Let’s give a shout-out to Jimmy Fallon for making football superlatives a popular source of entertainment.
I’d like to also give a shout-out to The Draft Network for connecting the dots between football superlatives and website coverage.
Like Bruce Arians’ idea of running multiple practices at the same time, it’s an idea which makes so much sense for it not to have been a thing prior to now.
Better late than never, right? Let’s crack open our first batch of off-season superlatives!
MOST LIKELY TO BE RELEASED: WIDE RECEIVER, DESEAN JACKSON
Anytime you try something for the first time it’s best to take it slow at first. For example, maybe don’t head to the black diamond slopes the first time you strap on skis. Also, if it’s your first time giving your kid peanut butter, maybe don’t go with a full blown PB&J.
So, in the spirit of easing into this, let’s go with the low-hanging fruit. Wide receiver, Desean Jackson is easily the Buccaneers player under contract for the 2019 season who is most likely to be released.
But, what about Gerald McCoy?
Well, McCoy is younger - not much, but still - and there’s no doubt he could add something to an opposing roster if they have a need at defensive tackle.
Jackson is obviously older, and has had just one 1,000-yard season in his last four. Sure, it could be Jameis Winston’s fault. Or Ryan Fitzpatrick’s. Remember, Jackson started with three 100-yard games with Fitzpatrick to start the season, but also had four games under it with the same starting quarterback.
You know what, maybe it was Kirk Cousin’s fault in Washington. Either way, Jackson has never strung together three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in his career. And he’s only eclipsed 1,100-yards twice. What are the chances he’s going to do it now, turning 33 down the final stretch of the 2019 season?
The final cherry on top of the release sundae, is of course his desire to leave Tampa Bay.
Teams likely wouldn’t offer much of anything - if anything - in a trade for Jackson just because of all the stuff I wrote above this. But add to it he’s not holding back on his desire to leave the team, and there’s zero leverage to force anyone into a trade.
MOST LIKELY TO BE TRADED: DEFENSIVE TACKLE, GERALD MCCOY
Ok, so this is another easy one. McCoy has been on the team a long time. In fact, he’s the only face Bucs fans can directly associate with every single season of this latest stretch of misery put on by the franchise.
As unfair as it may be, McCoy is the final piece of the losing culture which was there when the whole thing started to climb to it’s current pitch. Which is why so many are on board with seeing him sporting different colors in 2019.
Add to it that his get off is still one of the best in the game, and there might be a team (Rams) inside a Super Bowl window (Rams) who could see the value in adding a veteran defender (Rams) and just so happen to understand how to have a hole opening up at defensive tackle (Rams).
MOST LIKELY TO BE REPLACED BY A DRAFT PICK: CORNERBACK, BRENT GRIMES
For one, it’s all but guaranteed Grimes’ days in Tampa Bay are done. His days in the NFL might be done.
Either way, if your secondary needs an upgrade, you’re not likely to find it by bringing back Grimes who is on the wrong side of 30 and just doesn’t fit what is needed in what we expect the Bucs defense to look like in 2019.
He’s not physical enough, and isn’t quick enough to play off coverage with enough consistency to be left on an island. Not happening.
So, while it’s possible Jason Licht might look to free-agency for this, my money is on the starting cornerback playing opposite of Carlton Davis III being a rookie drafted in the second-round.
I’d love a guy like Byron Murphy, but my money is on a day-two prospect like Julian Love (Notre Dame) or Deandre Baker (Georgia) getting the shot to replace Grimes early-on.
MOST LIKELY TO BE REPLACED BY A FREE-AGENT: RUNNING BACK, PEYTON BARBER
It pains me to say this because I’m a big fan and supporter of Peyton Barber. That being said, there was not enough consistent production out of the backfield for the Buccaneers in 2018 and I don’t see coach Arians wanting to sit on his hands here.
Barber will likely be back, he’s a restricted free-agent, so the Bucs have all the leverage here. But being on the roster and not being replaced as a starter are two different things.
Ronald Jones’ career has gotten an early breathe of fresh-air by the hiring of Arians and Byron Leftwich, but why stand pat when the team could bring in a third member to really give the group some juice?
Mark Ingram is, and will be, a popular name. If Jones can step up in year two, then Tampa Bay could literally take a run at replicating what New Orleans did with Ingram and Alvin Kamara the past two seasons.
T.J. Yeldon will likely be looking for a new start, and playing with a passing attack who actually threatens defenses would do the former Alabama stand-out some good.
Don’t forget, Arians was high on Ameer Abdullah coming out of Nebraska, and at 26-years old the Bucs may take a run at him this off-season.
Oh, and Kareem Hunt still needs a job.
MOST LIKELY TO WIN THE SUPER BOWL WITH A NEW TEAM IN 2019-20: TIGHT END, CAMERON BRATE
Nobody likes the thought of their favorite player going somewhere else and watching them win a ring while your team sits at home.
Unfortunately, Bucs fans have gotten used to it over the years. Two prime candidates to move on from Tampa Bay and find new homes for 2019 are Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries.
Humphries is a free-agent, but Brate is under contract. However, the whole two tight-end domination thing never really panned out, and O.J. Howard is a clear-cut number one player at his position.
The problem with all of this though, is Howard’s injury history in just two NFL seasons.
More on that at another time. If Brate were to be traded, there are some franchises who could use his services and may view him as a crucial key to their Super Bowl dreams - meaning they’d pay more.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
The Patriots are no strangers to bringing in talent for short stints and getting them a ring along the way.
Rob Gronkowski isn’t the same player he once was, and really can’t ever seem to be healthy. I think smart money is on Gronk retiring after this latest Super Bowl win, and if the Patriots want to get Tom Brady and Bill Belichick another ring, they will need a suitable replacement.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Gerald Everett had one target for no catches and no yards and absolutely no impact on the Super Bowl.
If the Rams want to repeat as NFC Champions and have a shot at winning next year’s title-fight, they’ll need to get some weapons who can actually produce when Todd Gurley is “not injured”.
Brate would be one.
If there is a team which rivals the Patriots in league-wide hatred, it might be this one. But with Amari Cooper, Dak Prescott, and Ezekiel Elliott all the Cowboys are missing is a legitimate threat in the middle of the field to open it all up for them.
Every great Cowboys team had a contributor at the tight end spot. They don’t have one right now.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Seems Brate may be destined for a move back to California. Philip Rivers may never get a ring, but if he’s going to, he’ll need to find a solid tight end to replace his favorite target and long-time running mate Antonio Gates.
The Chargers have a running game, good receivers and a capable defense.
Upgrades in some key areas and the addition of Brate would make them a true contender in the AFC, and might get Rivers a crack at the Lombardi.
Which potential Super Bowl contender is most likely to trade for Cameron Brate?
This poll is closed
New England Patriots
Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Chargers
*These may all seem kind of negative. But it’s just the nature of the time period. Right now is all about improvement, which unfortunately means replacing some pieces. Come back for more superlatives leading up to free-agency, the draft, etc. and you’ll see it isn’t all doom and gloom.