Reporting Justin Pawlowski
While the Buccaneers most pressing needs come on the defensive side of the ball, they are still a few players away from having a complete offense.
The Bucs have invest a lot of money into their offensive line the past couple of years with new contracts for Donald Penn, Davin Joseph, Jeremy Zuttah, and Carl Nicks. One position on that offensive line that has been neglected has been right tackle.
Another position that you like to have solidified with a young quarterback is tight end. The Bucs had hoped that Kellen Winslow would be that protection for Freeman, but that did not work out.
We’re going to take a deep look at players that might be able to help the Bucs at each of these positions.
Jake Long, 27 (Dolphins) – Long is likely to be looking for a huge contract and the ability to play left tackle. Long does not make much sense for the Bucs.
Andre Smith, 26 (Bengals) - The massive right tackle was a former top 10 draft pick of a couple of years ago. While there were questions about his work ethic, Smith is still a very physical tackle who will ask for a big contract in free agency.
Sebastian Vollmer, 28 (Patriots) - Vollmer, who is coming off a minor knee surgery just a few weeks ago, will likely be looking for a contract between $6-$7 million. Vollmer was a starter for the Patriots offensive line, but with Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon waiting, the Patriots had the luxury of letting Vollmer leave.
Phil Loadholt, 27 (Vikings) - Loadholt might be my favorite fit for the Bucs. He is a massive right tackle that excels in run blocking. At 6′ 8” and 343 lbs, Loadholt would give the Bucs the biggest offensive line in football. The Vikings have been vocal about keeping Loadholt, but no deal is done yet.
Jermon Bushrod, 28 (Saints) - While Bushrod has been called the Saints top priority, the Saints will not have enough money to bring their left tackle back without a lot more maneuvering. Bushrod can play either left or right tackle and has protected Drew Brees blind side for the past 4 years as a starter.
Gosder Cherilus, 28 (Lions) - Cherilus is a drop down from the other tackles, but can still be a physical right tackle. He is not a dominant player which might be why the Lions will let him walk.
Other Offensive Tackles that will be available: Winston Justice (PHI), Dennis Roland (CIN), Max Starks (PIT), Sam Baker (ATL)
Jared Cook, 25 (Titans) – After not having the team’s franchise tag placed on him, Cook enters free agency as one of the top receiving tight ends available. Cook is not much of a blocker, but he has excellent speed and good hands. Cook will be looking for a significant contract in free agency and will probably get it.
Fred Davis, 27 (Redskins) - Davis is probably as talented as any tight end available, but his injury and character history will be a deterrent. It was reported on Thursday that the Redskins expect to resign Davis, but if he makes it to the open market, Davis will be an intriguing tight end to watch.
Dustin Keller, 28 (Jets) – Keller’s statistics progressively got better over his first 4 years, but took a dip last year after an ankle injury hindered him for most of the season. Keller is a very good receiving tight end with good experience. Keller would be a nice weapon for Freeman.
Martellus Bennett, 25 (Giants) - Bennett is the brother of Michael Bennett. Michael Bennett was not able to recruit his brother a year ago and will most likely be gone himself this off-season. Martellus is a big and athletic tight end, but he drops a lot of passes. He was not reliable with the Cowboys to even be counted as a number 2 tight end and now the Giants might allow him to leave. There are some red flags here.
Brandon Myers, 27 (Raiders) – After being non-existent in his first 3 NFL seasons, Myers exploded in 2012. He ended 2012 with 79 receptions for 806 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Delanie Walker, 28 (49ers) - Walker will fly under the radar, but he was a key figure for the 49ers offense the past few years. At just 6’0”, Walker does not have elite size, but he is a very good receiver and uses good technique in blocking.
Other Tight Ends that will be available: Benjamin Watson (CLE), Anthony Fasano (MIA), Dante Rosario (SD)
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