I know I speak for everyone when I say that it is time for the rebuilding stage of the Buccaneers franchise to be over and for them to take the next step and become a consistent playoff team. Well, in order for this to happen this offseason it is going to be incredibly important starting with free agency. Some names are bigger than others when it comes to players available this upcoming year but nonetheless it is crucial that we get players that are going to come in with a chip on their shoulder and produce right away. I have come up with five players I believe would be a great fit for the Buccaneers and would become key contributors for the 2016 NFL season playoff push.
With about 50 million in cap space it is clear that the Buccaneers are in a clear position to spend money to fill a couple of their holes before the upcoming draft. The defensive side is obviously the main concern and now that Lovie Smith has been let go, we don’t quite know what the new defensive coordinator will want but my guess is he wouldn’t mind the players I mention. So without further ado..
First and foremost, I believe this signing would change everything for the Buccaneers as far as what direction they would take in the draft and with their team. Some will say that Mario Williams would not be a good signing because he is coming off a year in which he was a letdown and only finished with five sacks after taking down the quarterback over fourteen times in 2014! Well I see this as a good thing because Williams has expressed multiple times that Rex Ryan was not using him the way that he has shown he is most dominant at, which is rushing the passer.
Rex has been using Mario Williams more as a linebacker who drops back into coverage and attempts to cover the pass instead of letting him just put a hand in the dirt and get after it every play which I think would suit him best. I am not sure who the new defensive coordinator for Tampa will be, but I am sure they wouldn’t mind having a dominant pass rusher that should get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Buccaneers already have pro-bowler Gerald McCoy on the defensive line and adding Williams to it would give two players on the defensive line that opponents would need to game plan specifically for. This also would help the depleted secondary of Tampa a ton by not giving the receivers much time to get open and the opposing quarterback having to get rid of the ball immediately. He is going to cost a big chunk of change to acquire, but I believe he would be worth every penny to this team and the Buccaneers should be aggressive and no waiting in line for this playmaker.
Another position in which the Buccaneers are desperate in is at cornerback and their below mediocre secondary. Well, plug in Janoris Jenkins and this secondary gets a whole lot better immediately. Jenkins has been one of the better corners in the league (81.3 rating from Pro Football Focus) and is a key part of the St. Louis Rams defense. This Bucs team’s best cornerback is Sterling Moore and that should say something about the talent level of our cornerbacks this season and should scream for an immediate upgrade. I know I have mentioned Vernon Hargreaves and Jalen Ramsey as possible draft choices for the Buccaneers but if we add Janoris Jenkins and add one of those playmakers in the draft, we would go from having some of the worst cornerback’s in the league to having a lot of talent in the position.
Ok to continue with this terrible secondary of Tampa we move to another incredible need, and that is safety. The Buccaneers currently don’t have any shining names at safety with Bradley Mcdougald, Chris Conte, and Major Wright but could add one of the better names at the safety position by adding San Diego’s Eric Weddle in March. Weddle is coming up on age at 31 and some say that is a terrible flaw that the Bucs should steer away from, I don’t agree. Most players who have been a special player throughout their career tend to do well at the end of it because they want to make sure they go out on a high note (Charles Woodson). Also, the safety position isn’t like wide receiver where you have to be in your prime physically to be effective. Weddle is known for being one of the smarter safeties in the league and his experience in the NFL can allow him to see a play develop quickly and react.
I would not shy away from Weddle at all if I was the Buccaneers as I believe he would be our best safety by a good amount if we acquired him. I also don’t think he will come at a hefty price tag like the two players I mentioned before and therefore, could grab some other players with him. He may not be the best player on our defense if we got him to come to Tampa, but he would not be a liability which is more than I can say about most, if not all, of the current players in our secondary. Weddle would also bring some heart and play with enthusiasm which is what the Buccaneers missed most when they lost Kwon Alexander to suspension. Someone who could pump up the whole defense like Winston does with the offense.
If anyone was watching football this past Sunday, you most likely heard all over the NFL that Muhammad Wilkerson broke his right leg and would exit the field in tons of pain. Well, this could make things very tricky for a Jets team that was already unsure if they were going to able to retain their top defensive lineman due to his high price tag. The high price tag should not scare the Buccaneers at all with the tons of cap space they will have and if anything, the injury to Wilkerson should at least bring down that price tag a little bit. Wilkerson has been dominant in every aspect for the Jets since entering the league in 2011. He is coming off of a year in which he has 12 sacks! That is a big number especially for a Bucs team that never has any player with more than 10 sacks in a season. I would go out and pay this man when it is time because I don’t think the Jets retain him and I also believe he will be perfectly fine coming off of the broken leg with how far the medical field in the NFL has come.
He would not have to worry about double teams either with Gerald McCoy most likely to keep getting those which is why Wilkerson might even do better for the Buccaneers than the Jets. The possibilities are endless. He is also still very young and should be beginning to enter his prime at 26 years old and that prime could be scary as he is already taking the league by storm. If we miss out on Mario Williams, I would say we would need to go and get this man no questions asked.
The Buccaneers have been missing a deep playmaker who can burn teams with their speed for quite sometime and you could tell Jameis is wanting one too by watching him overthrow the not so fast Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Enter Travis Benjamin, a player who has made a living this year burning defenses consistently and keeping the opposing defense modest and playing back scared of the deep ball. This would help most with giving Doug Martin some room to run next year and keeping the defense confused on what is coming next. Dirk Koetter while in Atlanta consistently had a deep threat whether it was Devin Hester at slot receiver or the speedy and talented Julio Jones burning defenders down the sidelines. Winston is known for his strong arm and I have been waiting all season to watch him launch one down the field as far as he can and someone be there when it falls.
Benjamin hasn’t had the best quarterbacks throwing him the ball this season either with Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel so Winston would be a clear upgrade to both of those players in my opinion. He should also not come at too high of a price tag and receiver is a deep position and he is more of a deep threat than a good route runner or possession receiver. I would say this would be a great cost effective move and they should look to bring him in right when free agency starts so that Winston to Benjamin could become a dangerous saying in the NFL.