Analysis of two major Buccaneers’ signings, Brent Grimes and Robert Ayers.
March 11 was a busy day for Jason Licht and the Buccaneers, as they managed to add two players at positions of need. They added an edge pass rusher in Robert Ayers, and a cornerback in Brent Grimes. The Grimes deal is for two years worth $13.5 million, plus another $3 million in incentives. Ayers will receive $21 million over three years, $10.5 of which comes as guaranteed money.
First some thoughts on Grimes.
It’s a move that the Bucs had to make, as they needed help on the outside. We have documented over and over how bad the team fared against the pass. On its face, the move isn’t a bad move. A player that has been selected for three consecutive Pro Bowls as Grimes has is not a terrible player to have on your roster. In three previous seasons with the Dolphins, Grimes recorded 13 interceptions, including two pick sixes, and 43 passes defended. He stands only at 5’10”, but has able to overcome his less than ideal stature with ability. He is a better player than what the team had.
But there are concerns.
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By the time the season begins, Grimes will be 33 years old, and the oldest cornerback on a roster. 33 is not a great age in football years. Darrelle Revis is only 30 years old, but ask any Jets’ fan about how often he got torched in 2015. He was still good, but just wasn’t the same. It’s hard not to expect that from Grimes.
Add that to the fact that his play has taken a bit of a downturn, and there is more reason for concern. As John Kosko of Pro Football Focus noted, Grimes has allowed 13 touchdowns over the last two years, while allowing a mere seven during his best years, 2010-2013. He also allowed a 103.2 passer rating and a catch percentage of 67.1%.
Was it a move that had to be made? Absolutely, but the jury is still out as to how good a move it is. The proof, as always, will come between the lines on Sundays.
Now for the man poised to be the one who eats quarterbacks along the same line as Gerald McCoy, none other than Robert Ayers.
Ayers is an interesting selection. He may turn 31 during the season, but indications are that he is showing no signs of slowing down. Starting only 11 games last season for the Giants, Ayers posted a career-high nine sacks, 14 quarterback hits, and tied a career-high with 41 tackles. According to Nathan Janke of Pro Football Focus, Ayers’ sacks and hits were good for seventh overall among 4-3 defensive ends.
And this production did not come from a player on a good football team in 2015. The Giants were bad. They were last in the league in overall defense. They were 30th in the league in sacks with 23. Put into perspective for a moment, that the team only recorded 23 sacks, and this player recorded nine of them. That gives you an idea of how the talent of Ayers emerged with flying colors last season.
As I mentioned earlier, a 30 year old player always will give you pause. Should the team that was only 6-10 last year, be looking for younger players, not the experience factor? In Ayers’ case, it feels safe, since his play seems to be peaking, rather than regressing. Through the last five games of 2015, he posted at least one sack, showing a consistency that fans should be excited about.
This was another move that, quite simply, had to be made. These are two areas that the team simply had to improve upon, and they did. How much do they have left in the tank? Only time will tell. But the Bucs are clearly better than they were before the moves were made, and that is all Bucs Nation wants to see during the month of March.