Every decision matters in the NFL.
This applies to both on the field and off the field. Especially in the front office, where everything starts.
GMs and coaches are faced with tough decisions during the offseason. Their feelings toward a particular player could (would likely) influence how they approach certain situations at certain positions.
For example - and this is completely hypothetical - if the Bucs feel like Justin Watson can take over Breshad Perriman’s role as WR3, then they would let Perriman walk in order to save a good amount of money.
That’s what the point of this post is. I’m going to list three players that the Bucs should roll the dice on in 2020. Doing so would allow Tampa Bay to strengthen other areas of the roster for both the short- and long-term, while also remaining competitive.
I’m leaving Jameis Winston and Shaquil Barrett off this list due to the obvious factor with them.
Be sure let us know your thoughts in the comments!
3. Sean Murphy-Bunting
I mean, you could honestly put all of Tampa Bay’s young corners here, but since I’m singling folks out, we’ll stick with SMB.
The second-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL Draft became a critical piece to the secondary toward the end of the year. Murphy-Bunting’s ability to play both the slot position and the outside corner position went a long way in helping the defense finish strong.
There was a lot of talk - and there still is talk - about the Bucs bringing in a veteran to help further the youngsters’ development and to provide valuable depth in case there is an injury or if said development is slower than expected in 2020.
But after reviewing SMB’s stats and some tape, the Bucs are in better position to let him take over more in 2020.
By increasing his playing time and relying on him more, the Bucs can avoid the thought of luring in a high-priced free agent or spending high draft capital on a corner. It would allow them to allocate money and picks toward other areas of need.
I brought up Logan Ryan as a potential free agent a while ago, but he is going to cost at least $11 million in 2020. By avoiding paying a player that much, the Bucs may be able to go after someone else (an offensive lineman, a running back. a safety, etc) and improve that area of their roster, instead.
Plus, a vote of confidence for a young, developing player is always helpful.
The reward: The Bucs will save money through free agency and will allocate high draft picks toward other areas of need.
The risk: The Bucs miss out on signing quality depth and if the corners take a step back in 2020, it could spell disaster for the back end of the defense.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul
There is plenty of risk here. JPP is coming off the second major injury of his career, but at the same time, he’s had 20.5 sacks in just 26 games as a Buc.
He’s getting older, but he showed hardly any signs of slowing down in 2019. He also looked to be a natural fit in this defense.
Keeping Pierre-Paul would prevent the Bucs from overspending in free agency. Pass rushers are NOT cheap these days, especially effective EDGE rushers. I mean, just look at Markus Golden’s current market value. He’s estimated to earn over $13.5 million/year and his career has been off and on.
This year’s draft is not very deep at EDGE, either. Keeping Pierre-Paul would also prevent the Bucs from overreaching on an EDGE in the draft. There is a chance that a raw rookie could step in and make an impact, but it’s a slim one.
That, in turn, would allow them to take a “best player available” approach or just simply fill the void for a need.
The reward: JPP is just as effective - or even more effective - as he was in 2019 and the Bucs’ front seven remains intact.
The risk: You overpay a veteran on the other side of 30 and potentially miss out on drafting a foundational piece.
1. Ronald Jones II
It’s March, so cue up the annual “the Bucs need a great running back” conversation.
According to Bruce Arians, RoJo is capable of carrying the load in 2020. That’s completely reasonable when you factor in Jones’ development over his first two years. He went from borderline bust to capable NFL starter in a calendar year.
Don’t get me wrong, he still has a ways to go before we can consider him worth the 38th overall selection. But if he has the same work ethic this off-season as he did during last year, then there’s little room to doubt that he will improve.
Talks about acquiring a veteran running back like a David Johnson or spending a second-round draft pick on a J.K. Dobbins have heated up over the last week or so. I, personally, am not a fan of either one of those scenarios. Allowing Jones to take over in the backfield would help curtail that strategy.
I’m not of the “running backs don’t matter” crowd, but I’ve certainly taken notice of how the position is in fact more situational than it is forced these days. Bringing in a guy with a high salary or using a high draft pick just doesn’t seem like the best idea when you have other holes to fill elsewhere.
The reward: The Bucs find their guy for the future and avoid spending a lot of money and/or draft picks on a running back.
The risk: Jones proves that he is in fact not the guy and the Bucs are left with another lackluster running game in 2020.