Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dexter McCluster (22) runs with the ball against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mock Offseason: Predicting the NFL Draft and Free Agent Moves for the Bucs


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers face an important offseason in 2014, as a new coach and general manager set out to turn the team around after a string of losing seasons under the previous two coaches. So who will Lovie Smith and Jason Licht bring in to bolster their team and get the Buccaneers back into the playoffs?

Even though it’s only February, we’re less than a month from the start of the pre-free agency period when teams can begin to talk to players and agents. So before that kicks off, here are my early thoughts on what the Buccaneers offseason could look like.

Extend

Gerald McCoy, Five years, $12 million average, 30 million guaranteed.

Restructure

Davin Joseph, Reduce salary to $1.75 million per year average, no guarantees.

Release

Michael Koenen

Re-sign

Andrew Economos

Dekoda Watson

Jonathan Casillas

Ted Larsen

Erik Lorig (All players re-signed to reasonable, 1-2 year deals for the minimum, or slightly above.)

Free Agents

QB Kellen Clemens, 2 years, $3.5 million total

WR/KR/PR Dexter McCluster, 3 years, $10 million total (Similar to the deal for Jacoby Jones in Baltimore a few years ago.)

WR Seyi Ajirotutu, 1 year, $900,000 total.

TE Ben Hartsock, 2 years, $2 million total

G Jon Asamoah, 4 years, $12 million total

T J’Marcus Webb, 1 year, $800,000 total

DE Corey Wootton, 4 years, $9 million total

DT Peria Jerry, 2 years, $2 million total

DT Fred Evans, 1 year, $850,00 total

LB Akeem Jordan, 2 years, $2 million

CB Drayton Florence, 1 year, $1.5 million total

S Darian Stewart, 1 year, $800,000 total

NFL Draft

1st Round: Khalil Mack, LB/DE, Buffalo

2nd Round: Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

4th Round: Chris Davis, CB, Auburn

5th Round: Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming

7th Round: Jeremiah George, ILB, Iowa State

7th Round Compensatory Pick or Priority Undrafted Free Agent: Steven Clark, Punter, Auburn

Rationale

Extending Gerald McCoy is the story of the offseason, as the Buccaneers must do what they can to keep McCoy around for the long haul. He’s arguably the best at his position in the NFL, and deserves a hefty contract and the role as the centerpiece of the franchise.

While they don’t need to free up any money, the Buccaneers make a couple of money-minded moves in this mock offseason, re-working Davin Joseph’s deal to fall more in line with his present value, while also letting go of overpaid punter Michael Koenen.

The Bucs also bring back a few key role players on cheap contracts to maintain depth and special teams coverage ability. Dekoda Watson and Jonathan Casillas return mainly for their special teams prowess, but also for depth at linebacker.

The team doesn’t make any big splashes in free agency, opting to make some depth-building moves instead. The biggest addition is wide receiver and return man Dexter McCluster, who provides an instant impact as a third receiver and a special teams ace. The only other “big” signings are defensive end/defensive tackle hybrid Corey Wootton and guard Jon Asamoah, who will take over for Davin Joseph or Carl Nicks, depending on Nicks’ health.

The rest of the free agent moves shore up weak positions on the depth chart, with Drayton Florence proving to be the biggest name among them. Florence steps in to play nickel corner and help take pressure off of Johnthan Banks.

And of course, the Buccaneers add an experienced, veteran quarterback in Kellen Clemens who wasn’t awful last season for the Rams and provides an upgrade over Dan Orlovsky as the emergency plan at QB.

In the draft, the Buccaneers add Khalil Mack with the thought of either turning him into a defensive end, or using him in a hybrid role. They follow up the pick by adding Brandin Cooks, who provides a ton of speed and playmaking ability at wide receiver.

Chris Davis helps solidify the depth chart at corner as an undersized but capable cover corner. Brett Smith provides a project quarterback for Jeff Tedford to work with and develop while Glennon and Clemens compete for the starting job.

Jeremiah George is a productive middle linebacker who can backup Mason Foster and provide a slightly different skillset from Mason, while Steven Clark replaces Koenen as the punter.

What do you think of these picks? Who would you like to see the Buccaneers target? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • skullphucker

    You can’t predict all that. That free agent haul sounds like some sort of speculative fantasy B.S. It’s probably 95% wrong. Without a doubt, there’s a few guys on your list that they may well target… But this level of detail (including contract length and salary) strikes me as a case of someone who needs to find more productive things to do with their time.

    • LeoTPP

      It’s just like any other mock draft. It’s just for fun. I’m not saying “THIS WILL HAPPEN, SET IT IN STONE.”

      And thanks for making it personal. Always a great way to start a conversation.

      • skullphucker

        A prediction (see title) means that this is something you expect to happen.

        You have to admit, getting down to predicting contract duration and salary is taking it to the point of absurdity.

        I think if the article didn’t include the ludicrous contract prediction and the free agency part were framed as “here are some suggestions for players the Bucs may look at signing”, then I’d have no complaint.

        Didn’t mean it to really be a personal slam, but these type of predictions seem kinda like fantasy football wanking.

        • LeoTPP

          The contracts prove the reality of the scenario. Anyone can get on a forum and say “Greg Hardy, Hakeem Nicks, Alex Mack, T.J. Ward” and not explain how it fits under the cap. I’m looking for realism here, which means I have to “show my work.” These are all just ballpark figures to show the current market price for a player of their caliber.

        • Tom Weissmann

          Replying to this in the fashion that you are is to the point of absurdity. It’s an article that is meant to stir up some thoughts and reads. Too bad you took it WAY too personally.

  • Karen Melanson Hartman

    Keonan needs a swift boot off of our ST , & is Connor coming back ?? Kivkers , if healthy , can play into their 40′s , I hope that Lovie backs him up with someone worthy , damn. – I watched him save the Dolphins’ s Assas far too many times as well as ours – well outt kicking game was not yhere – typos – broken iPhone – I like Cassilas , unless he’s getting hot headed& wants the big boy money , pay him – I don’t understand all that money / bizz aspect , I know it’s as important as getting the ball in the end zone. , but not sure of cap space & such , it learmingb, what do you think will happen with Mike – Tiquan , I’m telling you Leo, I see a good guy & talented athlete in #11 , Mike’s distraction isn’t really worth mentioning , but it’s still bad timing . Ty Leo

    • LeoTPP

      I hope Connor will be back at full health. He’s a very good kicker, well worth keeping around.

      And I don’t think Tiquan sticks around, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him brought into training camp to give it a shot.

  • PINN

    I like a couple of the draft picks. I don’t see us using a 2nd to snag a WR that would be primarily a slot guy. We can get other options later in the draft. I can see us using the 2nd round pick to get a DL of some kind. I’d love to have Aaron Donald if he happens to fall that far.
    I LOVE,LOVE, LOVE the Brett Smith pick.

    Just throwing something else out there: We trade one of our RBs for an extra pick or two. We take Andre Williams of BC in the 4th or 5th.

    • LeoTPP

      So you don’t want a slot receiver, but you want a backup 3 technique defensive tackle? Aaron Donald is redundant with Gerald McCoy. He’d not be able to play full time.

      And why would we trade an RB to draft an RB? Williams isn’t anything special that the Bucs’ RBs can’t be.

      • PINN

        I don’t think it’s wise to get primary slot receiver with a high pick such as the 2nd Round.
        Aaron Donald would be an immediate upgrade and starter over Spence and a backup for McCoy.
        Donald alternated in college between NT and 3-Tech. Donald and McCoy together in the middle is FAR from redundant. Of course, there are some legit concerns about his size, but he has an advantage in quickness that can’t be discounted. And his low center of gravity for leverage and push has worked in his favor.

        And trading one of our RBs for a RB with a different skill set that includes power, something the BUCS RB don’t really have, adds a different dimension in the running game. Sure, Doug Martin is strong, but he’s not consistently running with power the way a Williams does. Right now, all 3 RBs on the BUCS roster have the exact same skill set. And while I like all 3, I would not protest if one of them was used to add another offensive piece or get an alternate style RB which would cost less in the long run.

        • LeoTPP

          McCoy and Donald would be a very, very small DT combo. Spence is incredibly strong and capable of holding clogging up space and not getting washed down the line.

          And I think all of the Bucs’ backs have power. All three are very well rounded. Martin is a very tough runner, as is James, and Rainey is slippery. Adding a guy like Williams screams of adding Hillis or wanting Blount back. Those guys aren’t a guarantee to work. I don’t think RB has any holes, and in fact, I think it’s the deepest, best position on the team heading into next year.

          • PINN

            I think Spence is relatively limited. He fit the mold for the system that Schiano ran last year. I think he can be coached to become more of a force in the backfield, but he played the “clogger” role in college as well. That’s seems great for an offensive lineman, but I’d love to see him get into the backfield with regularity the way I feel Donald would be able to. The pass rush up the middle last season was ALL ON McCoy. And BUCS fans are clamoring for an edge rush because it’s the popular buzzword. Well, that buzzword is more suited for the 3-4 scheme. We NEED a pass rush from any position we can get it. And getting a pass rush up the middle while having LBs like Foster and David could be detrimental to an opposing offense. Just my opinion though.

            And I’m not disagreeing about RBs being the deepest position on the Team. The fact they are 2 deep makes them the deepest on the Team. And I don’t think any of them are weak runners at all. But Williams is a different beast. He’s fast AND strong. Couldn’t say that for Blount and/or Hillis. Not advocating trading any of our RBs. …just like you’re not advocating all the meticulously laid out plans you have here in your mock off season scenarios. Just putting out there. And I probably wouldn’t protest it if the GM felt he could get something valuable in terms of picks in the draft.

  • Jason Heilig

    Not bad, wouldn’t be disappointed. Especially like the addition of Dexter McCluster over Devin Hester, younger with fewer miles.

    But I’ll throw something more far fetched out there, then I’ll justify my reasoning….

    Trade Vincent Jackson to someone who is close to winning but could use that difference making wide receiver, say the Patriots or 49ers for a late first rounder. (Not sure what the going rate for VJax would be?)
    With two first rounders pick up Mike Evans and one of the big TEs (Ebron probably will be off the board).
    Might be able to drop back a few spots and still get Evans and pick up a 3rd round pick.
    In the second round pick up Yawin Smallwood or Christian Jones, both could be potential Mike LB replacements for Mason Foster who may wind up at the Sam LB position.
    In the third South Carolina’s Victor Hampton could be a viable option to be groomed into Tampa’s future nickel back.
    Fourth round results in a free safety from Vanderbilt Kenny Ladler.
    Fifth round Tajh Boyd, a project QB for Tedford who needs more time to develop but gives them a mobile option.
    Seventh round DT Deandre Coleman.

    Free Agency:
    Dexter McCluster
    Greg Hardy (Made possible by money saved by trading VJax)
    Michael Vick (Think there is serious interest in moving a different direction at QB with a mobile QB)
    Charles Tillman (Serve as Nickelback until the Bucs find a viable replacement)

    Now to justify the trading of VJax…..with 3 years left on his contract, it may be best to invest in a player like Evans who can be a play maker for many more years and then pick up another playmaker later in the first round. Not only do you draft two potential impact players, you also free up salary cap room to invest in a DE who can come in and immediately make a difference. Lovie has shown the desire to bring in a playmaker from free agency, i.e. Julius Peppers. Let’s face it a rookie DE isn’t going to make an impact in their first year.

    • Tom Weissmann

      It’s a good description of how V-Jax gets traded but that’s video game style management. It looks good on paper but Jackson is a proven commodity while there’s no way to tell how Evans will develop. On another note, Tampa doesn’t have third rounder.

  • Tom Weissmann

    It looks very well rounded for the draft and free agency. I do have a question about the salaries: do you know the space they’ll have (after re-signing McCoy, restructuring Joseph, releasing Koenen and if they sign most of these guys) before the draft? Just wondering if they could get Allen or Tillman on the cheap because of Frazier and Lovie. I’ve been reading some mocks that have Cooks as a potential late first rounder so I hope he lasts to the 38th pick. His stats and abilities are incredible for an under-the-radar guy considering the notoriety that Harvin and Austin got. Overall, it looks like a decent offseason to me.