With the NFL Draft approaching and the offseason winding down, how do those around the league feel about moves made by the Buccaneers?
We’ve reached the midway point of the NFL offseason, as the NFL Draft is just weeks away and after that — well, there’s not much to look forward to.
Some folks are looking beyond the gulf that awaits fans after the draft, and are assessing the moves that teams made in free agency and how they help or hurt. Subjectively, it feels like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a rather great offseason given the circumstances heading into it.
Tom Brady retired in February, which triggered a series of events that began to usher in a new era for the team. Guys like Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, and Donovan Smith were all early causalities of Brady’s exit combined with a $55 million salary cap knot that needed to be untangled.
Tampa Bay amassed a ton of dead cap, had not a lot of money to spend, and key areas of the roster that had turned over.
Despite this, the Bucs managed to bring back top free agent Jamel Dean, retained Lavonte David, and added guys like Baker Mayfield and Chase Edmonds. There were costs of doing business along the way, like losing Mike Edwards, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and a devestating trade request from Devin White.
Still, the Bucs offseason went far better than expected — at least internally. What’s the external read on how Tampa Bay did?
NFL executive reacts to Buccaneers offseason moves
To get an idea of how things stand, Mike Sando over at The Athletic talked to a handful of NFL executives who reacted to each team’s moves in free agency.
When it comes to moves the Buccaneers made, the reaction was pretty decent. In short, the team got a nod of approval from the exec that Sando talked to.
“They could have been more aggressive in restarting it, but I thought the deals they did were all smart,” an anonymous executive said. “They probably wanted to tear it down more, but the division is in flux, and they need to make their head coach feel like he has a shot.”
This quote was grabbed from an exec before news of the Devin White trade request broke, but that single thing doesn’t alter the outlook of the team’s offseason. White is a key piece of the defense, but he’s in the final year of his rookie contract and trying to gain leverage in extension talks.
He’s also still here, which means there’s no reason to count it one way or the other in assessing the Bucs offseason moves.
Let’s be honest, any talk of the Bucs offseason moves is code to really talk about Baker Mayfield. That’s the biggest move the team made and it’s most notable. It’s also one that has already fire hosed out of control in terms of everyone’s understanding of it.
Trolling Mayfield signing with the Bucs was the lowest hanging fruit folks could pluck, but there’s method to the madness. Baker is only getting $4 million guaranteed, with the other $4.5 million tied to incentives.
What bringing him to Tampa Bay does is it allows the team to have competition for Kyle Trask. If Baker wins that battle, then the front office knows all it needs to about Trask and can proceed accordingly. If Trask beats Mayfield, then the team has 17 games to assess if he truly has what it takes to be the guy to build around.
Either way, Mayfield’s signing is at worst a $4 million consulting fee and at best a surprise success that makes the team competitive.
It’s a win-win, and when combined with deals for Dean and David it’s hard to see the Bucs getting a failing grade so far this offseason.