The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have very little to play for over the final two weeks, as job security and pride remain as the only goals left for many players and coaches. So while fans may be cheering for a win to brag to their friends, or a loss to help with draft positioning, many players and coaches have paychecks on the line
So which Bucs have the most to play for over the final two games?
Because of the way Davin Joseph’s contract is structured, he can be released this offseason and it will free up plenty of cap space while not penalizing the Buccaneers any dead money against the cap. So the struggling right guard for the Buccaneers, who just turned 30 last month, may have a fight on his hands to keep his job.
Joseph is a team captain, he’s active in the community, and seems to be one of the truly good guys on the Bucs’ roster. But unfortunately, the NFL is about production, and Joseph has struggled on the field this season.
He’s obviously still dealing with the severe knee injury he suffered last season, so perhaps he’ll get a second chance next year if team doctors believe he is healing. But if the Buccaneers choose to save some money this offseason, an easy way to do so would be to remove the massive salary Joseph makes from the books, and draft or sign a replacement.
Similar to Joseph, Penn’s contract is structured in such a way that he can be released with a very small penalty to the Buccaneers’ salary cap. He’s set to see his base contract figure jump over six million next season, and the Buccaneers would have less than one million dollars in dead money on the books for letting him go.
So while Penn has been better than Joseph this year, he has not been without his struggles. Sunday’s game against the 49ers exposed Penn as he struggled to keep up with the talented Aldon Smith. Penn is still a very valuable player, and left tackle is not a position to simply replace on a whim. But if there is an option in the draft or free agency that the Buccaneers want to pursue, or if Demar Dotson is ready to swtich sides and become a starting left tackle, the money saved by letting go of Penn could go a long way elsewhere.
Despite being one of the best kickoff specialists in the NFL, Koenen has not been an elite punter, meaning his lofty contract numbers aren’t justified by his play. And similar to his offensive line teammates above, he can be let go with little penalty.
Kickoff specialist is an important job, and the Buccaneers would need to make sure they filled the role with a suitable replacement. But Koenen’s punting average and net punting average are both near the bottom of the league, and he doesn’t have a good ratio of punts inside the 20, or punts fair caught by opponents. Drafting or signing a cheap replacement would save plenty of cash, and possibly improve the special teams play for the Buccaneers.
When next season kicks off, Tiquan Underwood is not going to be a starting wide receiver for the Buccaneers.
Mike Williams will return and provide the Buccaneers with the combo of receivers they want. So where does that leave Underwood? He’ll be a free agent yet again this offseason, and this year he sat available on the free agent pile before the Buccaneers added him back. His best bet to make an NFL roster is in Tampa, so he needs to post some good tape over the next two weeks to secure his spot.
Watson, like Underwood, is a free agent at the end of the season, and also has a job to earn heading into next year. He’s a special teams ace, which will help his cause, but will he do enough on defense to merit consideration as the strongside linebacker in 2014?
With Jonathan Casillas out, he has a chance to earn a job next season with no competition. Let’s see if he can capitalize.
You knew his name would show up eventually, right?
There are three possible outcomes for Glennon next season
- If Greg Schiano stays, Glennon is likely still the starter. Glennon “saved Schiano’s job” (in the eyes of ownership, this will likely factor in to Schiano’s fate) and is among the many players Schiano admires because he “recruited him at Rutgers.”
- If Schiano stays but Glennon continues to struggle over the next two weeks, Schiano could get fed up and start tossing around “competition” quotes all offseason, and make it clear that Glennon doesn’t have the job locked up.
- If Schiano is gone, Glennon is unlikely to be the starter. There aren’t very many plays on Glennon’s tape that show that he’s the kind of guy a new coach is going to stick his neck out for.
And considering that the next two opponents for the Buccaneers are the pass-rush heavy Rams and the Rob Ryan-coached Saints, he can prove a lot by performing well against these teams.