Tampa Bay Buccaneers Still Face Questions at Quarterback and Slot Receiver


Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had an eventful off-season thus far and while they have seemingly improved the on-field product from last season, there are two signings that don’t bode well for the foreseeable future.

Those signings? Josh McCown and Louis Murphy.

Neither signing gives the Bucs stability at positions that have lacked consistency for many years now.

The 34-year-old McCown has already been anointed the starter by new Bucs head coach Lovie Smith. While that’s fine, it doesn’t solve the Bucs long-term quarterback woes.

The Bucs don’t even appear to know themselves what kind of role McCown will have moving forward judging by his two-year, $10 million contract. The amount of dollars is far too much for a back-up quarterback, but severely underpaid to be a starter.

But in the bigger picture, McCown is not the Bucs answer at quarterback. He’s not going to be the guy for the next five plus years and the Bucs need to find that guy soon. They thought they had him in Josh Freeman but the previous regime severed all ties and cut the Kansas State product early last season.

Mike Glennon remains on the roster as a back up after a pretty impressive rookie season last year and it’ll serve him well to learn from a veteran like McCown. It remains to be seen if Glennon has a future in Tampa Bay, especially with the draft fast approaching.

And that brings us to the draft. What do the Bucs do with the number seven pick? Do they go quarterback or elsewhere? Because if they go with a quarterback, he’ll likely be sitting on the bench and learning from McCown for the 2014 season. If that’s what the Bucs brass have decided, then it would have been nice to have seen Jason Licht acquire Matt Schaub and have Glennon and/or a rookie quarterback learn from a player who has enjoyed a lot of success in the NFL.

McCown might give the Bucs their best chance to win in 2014, but he doesn’t give the Bucs the best chance to win over the next five years and that’s a problem the Bucs must solve.

Mandatory Credit: Jim O’Connor – USA TODAY Sports

Additionally, the Bucs recently signed wide receiver Louis Murphy. My question to this is simple: why?

The Bucs have signed the St. Petersburg native to a one-year deal that means in one year, the Bucs are again going to have to figure out what to do at the slot receiver position.

Slot receiver has been a position of weakness for the Bucs in recent years, highlighted no more than by the failures of Kevin Ogletree in 2013. They need to find a reliable player who will catch the ball crossing the field and lock that player up for a number of years.

Receiver was a deep position in free agency, and will be even more so during the draft in May. Since free agency began, the Bucs have lost out on quality slot options like Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, and Ted Ginn, all of who signed multi-year deals elsewhere. Sanders and Ginn even visited One Buc Place. The Bucs even let their own Tiquan Underwood get away and sign with NFC South division rival Carolina Panthers despite a solid season in 2013.

To further complicate the problem, the current situation surrounding Mike Williams clouds the Bucs receiving corps. It’s still unknown as to what Williams’ future is with the team (there were rumours of cutting Williams before the stabbing). If Williams doesn’t return to the side, the Bucs will need to add a WR2 to the roster to work alongside Vincent Jackson.

If anything, the signings of both McCown and Murphy highlight that the Bucs need to find success in this year’s draft so that they can find stability and consistency at the two positions since they failed to do so in free-agency. It’s still unclear as to whether the Bucs will use the seventh overall pick on a franchise quarterback (they should, by the way) but the Bucs are sure to add a receiver at some point in the draft.

The Bucs need to make a long-term commitment at quarterback and slot receiver, so the pressure is on Licht and his staff to find suitable replacements at these two important offensive positions.