Doug Martin – Even though Doug had a monster rookie year he plays a position that is simply replaceable in today’s NFL.
There are only two running backs in the entire league that would be considered Tier 1 with their respective teams (Peterson, Lynch). And there are only a small handful of others that fall into Tier 2, and most of them are skat type players that rely on catching passes and getting yards after the catch. (McCoy, Spiller, Sproles, etc.)
Martin’s absence in 2013 really showed a lot about the replaceability of the RB position. Bobby Rainey and Mike James were able to step in and instantly contribute. I like Doug Martin, and I’m not advocating that the Bucs move on from him. They just need to understand that when it comes time to pay players, RB should not be on the short list to cash in.
Adrian Clayborn – It’s no secret that Clayborn has been improving during his time in the league. But it’s not at the pace in which it needed to be in order for him to be considered irreplaceable.
Clayborn was 5th in the entire league in TFL’s (my favorite stat), but he didn’t effect the quarterback as often as a pass rush first DE has to. Adrian also benefits heavily from Gerald McCoy playing inside on the same line. Clayborn almost never sees double teams, yet still doesn’t consistently disrupt the passer.
Defensive end is a position the Buccaneers have spent a countless number of picks trying to get right, and while Clayborn has been the best of the bunch, if someone better is available via free agency or the draft, the Bucs would be wise to look to upgrade.
Mason Foster – Lovie Smith will have a lot to do with which tier Mason Foster falls in at this time next year. My guess is that it won’t be this one again.
Smith relies on his middle linebacker to do a lot in the defensive scheme. And while Foster has the physically capabilities to do it all, I’m not sure Lovie will see see it that way.
Mason is the player on the roster that has the most to gain AND the most to lose with this new head coach coming to town. Either Smith leans on Foster like he has with players like Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs (comparison based in position not skill level) or he will push Foster to the side and find someone that fits what he does better.
Right now, Foster is replaceable, but if he can do what Lovie wants, he’ll be in Tier 1 by the time Week 1 rolls around.
Tim Wright – The surprise standout of 2013 has to continue his climb to significance in 2014. Wright became a go-to guy for Mike Glennon, and must keep playing at a high level with the new offensive coordinator in town.
Wright’s play should have warranted him a spot in Tier 2, but the lack of weapons the Bucs offense had to work with last season may have been the primary reason for Tim’s success. There is no argument that the Buccaneers could use an elite tight end moving forward, which inherently makes Wright expendable, but one could also argue the importance of a dual TE set. Therefore, welcome to Tier 3 my friend, hopefully the stay is a short one.
Tags: Tampa Bay Buccaneers