Father Time, as the saying goes, is undefeated. For Tampa Bay Buccaneers starting guard Davin Joseph he might be nearing the prospect of no longer donning a Bucs jersey. For the offensive lineman taken in the first round of the 2006 draft, it might be time to question how deserved he is to keep a spot on the roster.
Joseph spent many years blocking alongside Jeremy Trueblood on the Buccaneers right side of the offense. Now that Joseph is coming off a foot injury at over 30 years of age, his position is no longer consistently reliable. The most recent projection from Pro Football Focus has the former Oklahma Sooner as a poor starter and or a gamble at best.
Whether one buys into that prognostication or not, it cannot be denied that with Joseph’s injury and current six million cap hit another direction may be sought at right guard. Is free agency the way to go or should the Bucs consider bolstering the line through the draft?
This upcoming season new head coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford will develop a young quarterback. Even if Mike Glennon is replaced with a younger arm through the draft, the position will continue to be a work in progress. It could be argued that having a veteran like Joseph protecting Glennon is a better prospect than a rookie learning to block NFL bodies. Offensive lineman can take a season or two fully grasp the ins and outs of playing in the pit at football’s highest level.
That’s why the time to bring in a new guard can’t come soon enough.
Finding a top guard in free agency will not be an easy task. Travelle Wharton is expected to be resigned by the Panthers and Wade Smith has plenty of talent but questions remain after a sub-par 2013. There is cap space this season for the Bucs to make a run at either.
An issue facing Tampa Bay heading into the draft this May is a lack of picks, with only five going in. Furthermore, there isn’t a sure-fire early first round selection at guard. Do the Bucs reach at the seventh overall or do they hope to get value in the second or third round?
What is the risk in letting Joseph go for a younger player who may not be an immediate impact in the offensive interior? Joseph’s game and injuries may have fallen off just enough to warrant the strategy.
In a salary cap league, the Bucs must make some difficult off-season decisions in 2014. If a talent like UCLA’s Xavier Su’a Filo is available in the second round Smith may have to pull the trigger. Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson is another name that has been mentioned as a possible second round option.
Consider three important factors in bring back a higher priced player; age, injuries, and impact.
Joseph’s time has come to walk the plank.
Follow James on Twitter at @JGoTheFan