Projected Lineups: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Khaled Elsayed has a look at what new head coach Lovie Smith will have to work with in Tampa Bay.
Projected Lineups: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Continuing our dive into how the NFL rosters currently look, we’re turning our attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
With Greg Schiano gone, Tampa Bay is bringing in a different type of head coach in the shape of the hugely successful Lovie Smith. The formers Bears top dog spent all of 2013 out of the NFL but returns to a team with more talent than its record would suggest.
We turn our “Projected Lineups” series the way of the Bucs to see what they have to work with.
– Player markers are colored per class on a six-step ‘Poor’ to ‘High Quality’ scale based on their overall performance and the league’s elite are marked separately in blue.
– Colored outlines suggest a potential change in class.
– Underlined players will be 30+ years old for the 2014 season.
– Red player names suggest injury risks.
– Click on the image to enlarge.
– With Erik Lorig currently set for free agency we’ve opted for a two tight end set in the eternal “will they use more 12 or 21 personnel” question. While we’re not sold on the talents of Tom Crabtree, we are intrigued by the upside of Tim Wright. His run blocking looks very much like a work in progress but his Yards Per Route Run number of 1.48 is a healthy one, bettering players like Tyler Eifert, Tony Gonzalez and Jordan Cameron.
– It may surprise some to see Dashon Goldson, the $8M per annum man, getting a below average notch. Well we’ve always been of the opinion he was made to look better than he was in the 49ers’ defense, whereas he was found out somewhat playing in Tampa Bay. He was our 81st-ranked safety last year, and while some of that can be attributed to injuries and six penalties, it’s worth noting he missed one tackle for every 5.9 attempted, 17th-worst in the league. He needs to step up because as last lines of defenses go, he’s not a reliable one.
– We’re going with William Gholston over Da’Quan Bowers at defensive end, well aware that could change. Unfortunately, Bowers hasn’t lived up to the hype and while the team wanted him to replace Michael Bennett, he failed to lock down a starting job and contributed just 212 snaps and 17 quarterback disruptions as a situational player.
– We’ve given Chris Owusu something of a pass, but his first 297 snaps with the Buccaneers were not kind. The former undrafted free agent out of Stanford earned a -5.1 grade for his 2013 efforts as he failed to make an impact. The third receiver spot looks wide open.
2014 Cap Situation
The team has $10M to spend and 18 guys about to hit free agency (as well as two more on Monday). So if they want to make their annual free agent splurge then they’ll have to make significant moves within their own roster, while also looking to the future.
Potential Roster Casualties
The big money savings would see them get rid of Darrelle Revis, Gerald McCoy and Vincent Jackson. You can forget that with them representing three of their best four players. Instead, you might consider paying a punter $3.25M a waste, while wondering if Jeremy Zuttah is worth $4.5M when you’ll get solid play and little more from him. We know where we’d start and that’s saying goodbye to the perennially overrated Davin Joseph to save $6M (with no dead money) in cap space. He was our lowest ranked right guard last year and has never lived up to the hype. The other question mark is Donald Penn, an above average left tackle who doesn’t constantly deliver. His $7.4M cap hit and the Bucs’ drafting slot means they could get younger and cheaper at the position while freeing up money for potential re-signings (down the road) of McCoy and Lavonte David.
Opportunities from the Roster
The team isn’t short on cornerbacks right now and might consider upgrading at the slot position. Leonard Johnson displayed some skills as a rookie but looked out of his depth covering the slot, seeing him end the year with a -14.5 grade. Mike Adams is a free agent so the team might get a look at Anthony Gaitor or Deveon Carr there. Gaitor, a 2011 seventh round pick, never caught on with previous coaching staffs and at this stage would be lucky to make the roster, but with a new head coach in town things can turn around quickly.
Former Titans defensive end Scott Solomon and 2013 fifth-rounder Steven Means might provide if not competition, then situational relief at defensive end. Means managed 80 snaps as a rookie and is a little undersized to start, but given the lack of edge pressure this team generates on every down, there’s a role there for him if he can turn the corner. At linebacker the team will need to find a starter to compliment David and Mason Foster. Ka’lial Glaud, a Rutgers grad, will look to build on five snaps as a rookie, but is likely to face competition from Danny Lansanah and any number of players the team signs or re-signs.
Projected lineups by team:
ARZ | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE | DAL | DEN | DET
GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ
OAK | PHI | PIT | STL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled