Well it’s that time of the year again. Offseason can be quite grueling but in what seems like an eternity of boredom, there are a few dates to mark down . The draft, schedule release, training camp, and preseason are among the most exciting.
But first, FREE AGENCY!
We are currently twenty-two days away from the frenzy on March 9th. Until the dinner bell rings, there will be lots of speculation and predictions as to where each player could end up. I simply wanted to list three players in which I would like to see on the roster come September. Here it goes….
Desean Jackson: It seems like every year most fans focus on superstar free-agent additions. Desean Jackson is one of the most recognized receivers in the NFL and will be addressed by most casual fans that wish to acquire his services. I would also like for him to join the Bucs. This guy is a BURNER. That is exactly what this offense needs. There has been a lack of speed and depth in that department as evidenced by the 2016 season. Injuries piled-up and I believe it is within our best interest to try and obtain Jackson. Jameis has a propensity to overthrow the football and with a little bit of speed, this could change the game on offense.
It would be extremely difficult for defenses to focus on both Evans and Jackson at any given time. Double-coverage may be non-existent with this tandem and could you imagine if those home-runs Jameis hurled last season were compensated with a receiver who had an extra step or two on the ball? More touchdowns, more yards, more receptions, more first downs, and potentially even more wins. That could have been the difference of making the playoffs or not.
TJ Lang: Now this isn’t the fanciest pick and I’m under the impression that he will likely be retained in Green Bay, but this guy could change the game on the Offensive Line. TJ could step right in and take over the right guard position over Ali Marpet. Marpet could then be moved over to center in which he would really excel. The Offensive Line would then consist of Donavan Smith (LT), JR Sweezy (LG, hopefully he rebounds and the injury isn’t a concern), Ali Marpet (C), TJ Lang(RG), and Demar Dotson (RT). That is a very intriguing group that vault this unit into top ten overnight.
Now Lang is thirty years old and is reaching the end of his career, but look how Logan Mankins worked out in the same situation. Lang has just came off a pro bowl season as well. The Packers have a lot of cap invested into their other tackles so he could be a free man soon enough. It would be wise to invest in another lineman in the latter rounds of the draft to be mentored and potentially take over Lang’s position once his tenure runs up in Tampa. Teams can never add enough quality linemen.
Jabaal Sheard: I bet everyone is surprised that I didn’t list Eric Berry. That was too common sense for me. Berry is going to be one of the most highly-sought free agents since Suh, plus he may be back in Kansas City. The guy is a beast and everyone knows it. Sheard is a pick that I liked when he was brought in by Lovie several years back, although he ultimately chose New England over us. He is a constant force off the edge, about half the price as someone like Calais Campbell or JPP, he is young (27), and he would add solid depth/experience to Ayers, Jack Smith, Gholston(bring him back too), and Spence. So far, Sheard has averaged six sacks a season in his six year career.
Although I would certainly prefer Campbell or JPP, Sheard adds so much value to this roster. The bang for your buc(k) is well worth it. I’m fairly confident he could step in to outside linebacker if need be as well adding versatility to this front seven. Not only that, but Sheard has played in Cleveland and New England and has a solid awareness of losing vs winning cultures. He just won a Super Bowl ring too, so that experience wouldn’t hurt the locker room atmosphere.
This would have been an easy article to write if I had simply listed the best players available. Eric Berry, Calais Campbell, and Alshon Jeffery would arguably have been the must-haves when considering our needs. However over the years, I have noticed the Bucs front office almost never adds more than one iconic name to the team at a time. I am confident there will be a huge splash-move when all is said and done, but don’t be surprised by the addition of a lot of “who is that?” type players.
This year doesn’t have the greatest list of superstar talent, but considering the nearly $70 million in cap space and how close we are to being a great team, I fully anticipate a lot of action on March 9th. Jason Licht did an excellent job in free agency last year (Grimes, Ayers, Smith, etc) and in my opinion, that will continue.
But first, let’s lock up some of our own guys.