NFL Fan Blitz’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers writers lock in some of their predictions for the 2019 off-season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers off-season is already off to a busy start.
Tampa Bay has hired Bruce Arians as their head coach, Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator and Byron Leftwich as offensive coordinator to anchor a new look coaching staff.
In addition, the team has released Vinny Curry and added Andre Ellington as their first two roster personnel moves.
However, it won’t be until the start of the new league year on March 13th when more significant moves start to take place.
With that date quickly approaching the Buccaneers writers from NFL Fan Blitz predicted a Bucs player they expect to re-sign, an external free agent they see coming to Tampa Bay, one trade the team will make and who the team will take with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Which internal free agent will the Bucs re-sign?
Aaron Gershon: OT Donovan Smith
The Bucs offensive line struggled in 2019, but it wasn’t Donovan Smith’s fault. Smith was called for just two false starts, three holding penalties and allowed only five sacks. Smith is the Bucs best offensive lineman. Thus, they must do everything they can to keep him. There’s a chance the Bucs use the franchise tag on Smith to obtain more time to negotiate a long-term deal. This would be wise as without Smith the Bucs already weak offensive line could take another step back in 2019.
Ashlie Abrahams: WR Adam Humphries
While offensive tackle Donovan Smith is all but a lock to receive the franchise tag, that would leave Kwon Alexander and Adam Humphries as the two big internal free agents the Bucs will look to resign. Humphries was Winston’s security blanket in 2018 and was a vital part of the Bucs high octane offense. With the emergence of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans only getting better, bringing back Humphries solidifies the receiving core.
Ken Filler: OLB Kwon Alexander
The Bucs must re-sign one of the few bright spots from their awful 2018 defense. When healthy and when paired with Lavonte David and Kendall Beckwith, Kwon Alexander helps form one of the top linebacking units in the NFL. Alexander has a nose for the ball as he has finished first or second on the Bucs in tackles since entering the league in 2015 and was on pace for 120 in 2018 but suffered a season-ending injury against the Browns.
Kris Kilpatrick: ILB Kevin Minter
Kevin Minter is a middle linebacker who has played most of his career under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles. The 6-0, 246 lb linebacker was signed late in the 2018 season. In five games with the Bucs the linebacker played very well before landing on injured reserve less than a month later. He will provide experience and knowledge to the other players who have not played in Bowles’ defense. He is also a solid contributor who could be given an opportunity to start at one of the inside linebacker spots in 2019.
Which external free agent will the Bucs bring in?
Aaron Gershon: S Tyrann Mathieu
The Bucs hardly have any depth at the safety position heading towards 2019. Thus, if the Bucs are going to break the bank on any free agent, it should be on Tyrann Mathieu. When healthy “the honey badger is one of the games best safeties. In Tampa, he would reunite with Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles who coached him in Arizona. In addition, he would also have a chance the anchor to the Bucs secondary that they so badly need.
Ashlie Abrahams: S Tyrann Mathieu
Mathieu and the Bucs are a perfect match, as Mathieu played under Arians when he coached in Arizona. The “honey badger” will become a free agent after one year in Houston where he struggled a bit and could be tempted to team back up with the coach who took a chance on him out of LSU. Mathieu would add some much-needed safety depth to the Bucs roster as well as a veteran Chris Conte will be a free agent and is unlikely to return.
Ken Filler: DT Sheldon Richardson
With the Bucs re-tooling of the defensive line starting with the release of Vinny Curry, and the uncertainty surrounding Gerald McCoy, Sheldon Richardson would be a great fit for Todd Bowles’ defense. Richardson is strong against the run and the pass and can fit into a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He had 4.5 sacks in 2018 and has 23 in his career from the nose tackle position.
Kris Kilpatrick: EDGE Markus Golden
Golden is a 6-3, 260 lb. Edge rusher who had a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2016 for the Cardinals and Arians. The pass rusher has had injury issues the past two seasons. However, if the soon-to-be 28-year-old finds his groove of a couple seasons ago, he will be well worth the contract the Buccaneers offer. The athletic Golden would be a good fit for the 3-4 scheme Bowles will implement in Tampa.
What’s one trade the Bucs will make this off-season?
Aaron Gershon: Bucs Get: 4th round pick. Eagles Get: WR DeSean Jackson
The Bucs must move on from DeSean Jackson this off-season. Jackson has made it clear he wants out, and the Bucs cannot afford for him to ruin the team’s chemistry. In order to get something out of their failed investment, the Bucs should trade the wide receiver rather than cut him. The Eagles seem to be a perfect trade partner as Jackson’s had success with their organization in the past and the team has a need for a receiver as Golden Tate is set to hit free agency.
Ashlie Abrahams: Bucs get: 5th round pick. Houston Texans get: WR DeSean Jackson
The DeSean Jackson experiment did not work well for either parties involved. Jackson and Winston haven’t been able to get on the same page, and Jackson has made it clear with demanding a trade in the middle of the season that he doesn’t want to be in Tampa in 2019. Houston would fix the Demaryius Thomas mess after releasing him, and Tampa would save $10 million while gaining a draft pick.
Ken Filler: Bucs Get: CB Patrick Peterson. Cardinals Get: DT Gearld McCoy
The Bucs secondary was one of the worst in the NFL last season. Trading for Patrick Peterson would upgrade the secondary in a big way. Peterson has made the Pro Bowl all eight seasons he has been in the NFL. The all-pro would hasn’t been all too happy in Arizona as he at one point during the 2018 season demanded a trade. Peterson is due to make 14 million dollars this season, while Gerald McCoy is set to make 13 million. Thus, there would not be a huge cap hit by either club for making this trade.
Kris Kilpatrick: Bucs Get: RB David Johnson. Cardinals Get: Second Round Draft Pick
David Johnson was arguably the best running back in the NFL heading into the 2017 season. Under then head coach Bruce Arians, Johnson’s 2016 totals of 373 touches, 2,118 yards from scrimmage, and 20 total touchdowns were all marks that led the NFL. Fast-forward to now, and Johnson missed all but the first game of 2017 and was very pedestrian for the lowly Cardinals in 2018. Johnson’s trade value is very low compared to what it once was, but in an offense that has many threats in the passing game, Johnson would thrive with the Buccaneers under his former head coach.
Who will the Bucs select with the fifth overall pick of the NFL draft?
Aaron Gershon: CB Greedy Williams LSU
The Bucs need a young cornerback to build their secondary around for years to come. Though there’s been recent skepticism around Greedy Williams and if he’s top 10 material there is simply too much upside to pass up on. Williams is a ball-hawking 6-3 cornerback who thrived in the toughest college football conference in the nation (SEC). Since he only played two years at LSU, he may have a little bit of a slower development process, but the wait will be well worth it.
Ashlie Abrahams: LB Devin White LSU (10th pick via Denver)
BOLD PREDICTION: the Bucs won’t hold onto the fifth pick in the draft. There are multiple teams in need of a franchise quarterback. The list includes teams such as the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars and Denver Broncos. Though the most appealing trade partner for Tampa would be Denver. The Bucs would only move back five spots and would still get a top-10 talent. In this scenario, I see the Bucs receiving one of the two Denver 4th round picks and drafting linebacker Devin White, out of LSU 10th overall as the Bucs look to transition to 3-4 under Todd Bowels.
Ken Filler: DT Ed Oliver Houston
Since I predict the Bucs will trade McCoy and with the team expected to lose Mitch Unrein and Beau Allen, Tampa Bay will be looking to add a solid defensive tackle and Ed Oliver certainly fits the bill. Imagine a starting defensive line of Carl Nassib, Vita Vea, Ed Oliver or Sheldon Richardson, and Jason Pierre-Paul. Potential is a pretty big word, but on a paper, that line looks pretty darn good. Drafting Oliver would solidify the defensive tackle position for years to come. The defensive tackle had an outstanding 2018 season logging 54 tackles, 14.5 tackles for losses, and three sacks for the University of Houston.
Kris Kilpatrick: OT Jonah Williams Alabama
Jonah Williams is considered by many to be the best offensive lineman in the 2019 NFL Draft. At the fifth spot, the Buccaneers will have a plethora of options they could choose from, including trading down. However, if the Buccaneers stay at pick five, they should definitely consider drafting more protection up-front for Jameis Winston. The 6-5, 302 lb. Williams has the talent and versatility to play either tackle spot and could allow the Buccaneers to shift their current offensive line pieces around to field the best five linemen they have.
Be sure to follow the NFL Fan Blitz Tampa Bay Buccaneers writers on twitter:
Aaron Gershon: @agershon99
Ashlie Abrahams: @EMT_Abrahams
Ken Fillter: @krfiller64
Kris Kilpatrick @KrisAKilpatrick
You definitely don’t just get a 4th round pick for moving 5 spots from 5 to 10 in the first round. They would at minimum get an extra 2nd rounder and possibly a 4th or 5th added on to that as well.