Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Why signing RT Gosder Cherilus needed to happen


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers couldn’t enter the 2015 season with the offensive line they had going into their preseason opener against the Minnesota Vikings. They needed to add another reasonably skilled, veteran player.

With Ali Marpet making inroads towards supplanting Garrett Gilkey as the team’s starting right guard by Week 1 and Donovan Smith already being entrusted to protect Jameis Winston’s blind side, the Buccaneers needed some sort of insurance policy just in case one, or both, of these rookies faltered early on.

"The Bucs needed to sign someone because Pamphile and Patrick Omameh weren’t going to cut it in Dotson’s absence."

Demar Dotson did such a good job at left tackle, replacing Anthony Collins, it initially appeared that he would be a shoe-in to assume the same role the following season. However, the Bucs moved him to the other tackle position, leaving Smith to battle it out with unproven, second-year tackle Kevin Pamphile.

The Buccaneers have depth at every offensive line position, but it’s not the type of depth you want. Every backup has three years or less of NFL experience, which meant that if vets like Logan Mankins, Evan Smith or Dotson sustained an injury, the organization was putting themselves in a tough spot.

Dec 28, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Demar Dotson (69) against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. New Orleans Saints defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Then, Dotson went down and our worst fears were realized.

If the Buccaneers were cautious about opening up their checkbook after the failed signings of Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson, etc., it didn’t matter anymore now. The Bucs needed to sign someone because Pamphile and Patrick Omameh weren’t going to cut it in Dotson’s absence.

Still, the front office put themselves in this predicament by remaining gun-shy about guard Evan Mathis, not looking into tackle Joe Barksdale and failing to work out a deal with Justin Blalock. Maybe these players don’t start, but at worst, they give the Bucs decent options.

On Monday, the Buccaneers signed former Colts right tackle Gosder Cherilus to a two-year deal and even though Dotson is expected to return at some point this season, this move gives the team exactly what they have lacked all along.

Dotson’s positional flexibility gives the Bucs the opportunity to move him back to left tackle if Smith struggles. Or, Smith can move to left guard, making Mankins available at right guard if Marpet and Gilkey fail to live up to expectations.

Lovie Smith and Jason Licht focused this offseason on having viable options at every position on the defensive side of the ball, why not treat the offensive line the same way? The Cherilus signing suggests that the Bucs may be heading in the right direction.

Next: Projecting the Bucs' starting offense

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