Seahawks vs. Vikings: Potential Free-Agent Targets for the Buccaneers


Following Saturday’s dramatically conflicting AFC Wildcard showing the NFC takes its turn on the national stage.  Following this day, eight teams will continue the pursuit of history while the other 24 teams will begin the march towards next season.

Yesterday, we covered four players from the two AFC match-ups who could find themselves calling Raymond James Stadium home next season, and today we’ll do the same for the NFC.  Beginning with the Seattle Seahawks visiting the NFC North Champion Minnesota Vikings.

Seattle Seahawks:

SLB, Bruce Irvin – The Buccaneers are set at one linebacker spot with veteran weak side linebacker Lavonte David.  This year’s fourth round selection and starting middle linebacker Kwon Alexander did very well, and led the team in tackles when he was suspended for the last four games of the season; a result of an energy drink containing a banned substance.

The only piece missing to shape what could develop into the best linebacker corps in the NFL is a versatile strong side linebacker (SLB) who can strike fear to opposing offensive lines, and also cover the leagues growing crop of slot receivers and pass catching tight ends.

30-year old veteran Danny Lansanah occupied the starting role as the Buccaneers SLB in 2015 and played consistently through the season.  Lansanah also provided veteran leadership, and was credited by Alexander as being one of the main contributors to his early success in the NFL.  However, Lansanah will be 31 before the start of the 2016 season and is entering free agency himself.  With cap space to spare and a renewed commitment to finding the winning recipe in Tampa, the opportunity to bring Irvin onto the roster can’t be ignored.

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Irvin possesses the attitude and talent which would complement David and Alexander perfectly.  His presence also requires attention from the offensive line as he’s proven to be a skilled outside rusher who can create problems for opposing quarterbacks if he goes unchecked.  The attention given to Irvin would serve to benefit defensive end William Gholston by reducing the number of double teams or chip blocks he sees, and allow him to use his speed more effectively.  This is similar to the way fellow defensive end Jacquies Smith benefits from the presence of David behind him.

Another quality Irvin possesses is big game experience.  A Super Bowl champion and yearly participant in the NFL Playoffs, Irvin would bring a winning attitude the Buccaneers desperately need to inject more life into a defense which looked flat in the last quarter of the season.

With a number of Seahawks players set to enter free agency they can’t keep them all.  Irvin may be one who gets away, and after the team declined his fifth year option, Irvin could be looking to show the organization they made a mistake.  The Buccaneers are slated to take on Seattle next season, and there’s no doubt the Buccaneers would be more than happy to allow Irvin his chance to do just that.

Minnesota Vikings:

FB, Zach Line – Adrian Peterson was the best running back in the NFL this season, and part of the success he’s had is due to the fullback playing in front of him.

The day of the fullback being a featured part of the offense is gone, and may never return, but there are many situations where the fullback still serves a purpose.  A good fullback can be a valuable contributor to the success of your running game and protection of your quarterback.

Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback Zach Line (48) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Vikings 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Line entered this season as a predicted cut from the final roster, and the Vikings even considered using tight ends in the fullback role.  Prior to Line, the fullback position was played by Pro Bowler Jerome Felton.  The departure of Felton left a hole in offensive scheme, and Line took advantage of his opportunity to seize the starting job.

Recently, Vikings running back praised the third year fullback by saying, “He has done a great job coming in and picking up right where Jerome left off, and really putting a stamp on that position, and just being that true fullback that can go in and create holes for you,”

The Buccaneers current fullback is Javorskie Lane, who suffered a broken leg in the season finale against the Panthers.  With the health of Lane in question and the Buccaneers trying to secure the services of Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, bringing Line into the mix would ensure the Buccaneers have a lead blocker with the ability to open holes for this year’s second leading rusher.

In his first playoff experience, Line will look to open paths for Peterson to run through against a stacked Seahawks defense looking to test the mettle of the SMU product.

The 2015 Buccaneers produced a top-10 rush defense and the second best running back in the NFL.  However, to move forward without looking to improve both areas would be unwise at best.  Adding both of these players would provide a boost to already strong elements while adding some needed strengths.  Irvin has pass coverage skills which would provide an improvement at the SLB position, and Line has shown the ability to be more effective as a runner and pass catcher than the average fullback.