The defense continues to remain a key focus for the Buccaneers as they begin work on forming their 2021 roster. Although it remains important for the front office to work out what they can with existing players, it’s even more important to focus on areas they can incrementally improve in.
Although the Bucs secondary doesn’t have anyone headed to free agency, but it may benefit them to explore available options, even if only with depth. The current roster has been inconsistent the past two years under Bowles, but that unit is nearly complete only missing that one or two pieces to make them an elite group.
We continue our free agent spotlight series with San Francisco 49ers Safety, Jaquiski Tartt.
Jaquiski Tartt’s Career Thus Far
Jaquiski Tartt played ball for Samford University located in his home state of Alabama. From 2010 to 2014, he remained the starter throughout his collegiate career pulling in 277 total tackles and six interceptions.
The 49ers drafted Tartt in the 2015 NFL Draft in the second round (46th overall). Although he was selected so high, he was slated as the backup safety expected to primarily play on special teams.
He primarily played in dime packages and on special teams having been named the starter in week eight of the 2015 season after Antoine Bethea tore his pectoral muscle and put him out for the remainder of the season.
He finished his rookie season with impressive numbers. He racked up 65 combined tackles, 3 of those for loss, with 2 quarterback hits. He only reeled in 1 interception, but managed to get 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and defended 3 passes along the way. Apparently it wasn’t enough to keep him in a starting role. In 2017, then head coach Chip Kelly named Eric Reid the starting strong safety until later that season when went down with a knee injury.
Unfortunately, Tartt’s been placed on injured reserve three out of the six years he’s played. But when he’s been healthy from 2015 to 2020, he’s accrued a total of 301 combined tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 17 passes defended, and 4 interceptions for 101 yards.
Why It Works
Jaquiski Tartt provides more depth and more options to expand Todd Bowles’ defensive options. It expands his ability to explore more dime packages, and even have two safeties capable of stunt packages.
Tartt has Super Bowl experience having played as a starter in Super Bowl LIV in the loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. He had 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack. He’s capable of playing strong and free safety.
Knowing that Antoine Winfield Jr. is the future of this defensive secondary, acquiring Tartt would allow Todd Bowles to explore more options with his style of defense. He could explore more nickel and dime packages allowing a player like Tartt to come in with his size and tackling abilities.
As I stated, Winfield is the future of this Todd Bowles defense. Bowles may not want to get too crafty and start switching up a winning formula, which may have to be done to bring in a player like Tartt as a starter and align to his strengths.
There’s also the concern over Tartt’s health. He’s been on the injured reserve three out of his six years in the league. He’s had a shoulder injury, turf toe, and a broken arm which creates a cause for concern if he’s only being looked at as a two or three year value.
He’s nearly 30 with a history of injuries, so naturally he would only be considered with a heavy asterisk due to the injury risk alone.
What’s The Cost?
Tartt’s latest contract was worth $13,000,000 on a two year deal with $4,500,000 signing bonus, and an average salary of $6,500,000. Prior to that, he made over $5,600,000 in 2018. Seems fairly steep compared to Antoine Winfield Jr. who is earning an average annual salary of $1,826,796.
Tartt may have to reconsider his salary options in order to come to Tampa. Potentially under value given the other more important positions that need to be filled. According to overthecap.com he’s sitting comfortably as the 20th ranked safety in terms of salary.
Also according to overthecap.com, the Bucs are $4,674,267 in the red on team cap space. The Bucs just announced they will be placing the franchise tag on Chris Godwin and Lavonte David just extended his contract for an additional two years worth $25 million. It now seems a lot harder to go out and pick up a player like Jaquiski Tartt with a Top-20 salary.
The #Bucs are keeping one of their own: Tampa Bay has agreed to terms with star LB Lavonte David on a 2-year contract extension worth $25M, sources say. On the brink of free agency, David stays home.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2021
What We Don’t Know
We don’t know what Tartt would be willing to take in terms of salary. Maybe he’ll consider taking a discount to chase a championship. We also don’t know if it’s even worth it for the Bucs to even consider additional defensive pieces, especially at the safety position.
The Bucs could also be looking at the draft boards for youth and depth rather than looking for a veteran. Bowles already has the guys he wants, but he needs depth to rely on should Whitehead or Winfield Jr. go down with injuries again like we saw towards the end of last season.
We also don’t know what the end result will be in terms of cap space, trade considerations, and what the Bucs plans are for the NFL Draft. Could the Bucs trade up in the draft order, or offer a series of trades to free up more cap space? Still all too early to tell.
Make The Decision
Tartt may be too rich for the Bucs given the recent news with Godwin and David. There may also be other areas requiring more attention than the defensive secondary in terms of acquisitions and contracts.
He’s been injured, and on and off the bench with the Niners since he came into the league in 2015. His play making abilities are worth considering, but it’s also worth considering that the Bucs already have their star strong safety on the active roster.
When it comes to Jaquiski Tartt, what would you have the Buccaneer do?
This poll is closed
Sign him, no matter what
Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
Call him up if there is still a need after the draft
Don’t need him