Post Draft Questions The Bucs Must Answer
With the NFL Draft now a thing of the past, many teams are now focusing their attention on signing those draft picks, but also on the free agent market again. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already made their splash in free agency when they signed safety Dashon Goldson, but some post-draft questions about their immediate plans remain.
What do the Bucs do for depth on the offensive line?
The Bucs spent most of free agency and the draft addressing the defensive side of the ball, which they certainly needed to do. But right now, the offensive line is severely lacking depth. If Carl Nicks or Davin Joseph were to go down again because of injury, that line would be stretched even thinner. Somebody like Winston Justice, who started 12 games last season for the Indianapolis Colts, could be a nice addition as a free agent, seeing as how the Bucs opted not to address the offensive line via the draft.
How much of the workload will fall on Doug Martin’s shoulders?
Clearly, the Bucs are putting most of their money on Martin, who ran for 1,454 yards last season as a rookie. However, there were often questions about Martin’s workload. He did carry the ball 319 times last season, which is a lot for a rookie. And entering his second season, it looks like Martin will be doing most of the work again, unless the Bucs utilize Brian Leonard and Mike James, the rookie sixth-round pick out of the University of Miami. Or, they could add a veteran running back to backup Martin; incidentally, Ahmad Bradshaw, who has been cleared to resume football activities after foot surgery, is still available.
How deep is the Bucs’ defense really?
On the surface, the Bucs appear to be relatively deep in terms of depth on the defensive side of the ball. But the fact of the matter is that many of those players will be rookies playing in their first season, meaning they’ll be unproven. There were whispers that the Bucs may have been interested in defensive tackle Kyle Love after he was released by the New England Patriots, but he was ultimately claimed on waivers by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Free agent options to bolster the defensive line could be veteran defensive end John Abraham, Israel Idonije, or Trevor Scott, who played for the Patriots last season.
The Bucs have a group of solid projected starters at linebacker in Adam Hayward, Mason Foster, and Lavonte David. But aside from Jonathan Casillas, whom they signed in free agency, there’s not much behind those three. They could use a veteran linebacker to mentor their young corps of linebackers, someone with well-established game credentials. A longshot would be bringing in linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is a future Hall of Famer, but maybe a slightly more realistic option to shore up the defense would be someone like Will Witherspoon, who played for the Tennessee Titans last year.
These questions will likely have to be answered eventually, but there are still plenty of quality free agents available. However, the Bucs still have two draft picks to sign, and talks about re-signing wide receiver Mike Williams have picked up steam again, according to someone close to the situation. So, the Bucs will have to carefully manage their cap situation from here on out.