While the Super Bowl is this weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already thinking about the offseason and how the team can make moves to ensure it's still playing this time next year.
The first major task has been taken care of, as the Bucs hired Liam Coen to replace Dave Canales as offensive coordinator. Now comes the roster-building portion of the offseason plan, as the Bucs have several questions that need to be answered.
Some are more obvious than others, as new deals for Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans need to be hammered out. Tampa Bay will have to do more than just bring players back, though, as adding to the roster is a luxury the team has that it didn't last season.
Now free from a gnarly $55 million salary cap situation, and with Tom Brady's dead money off the books, the Bucs have some wiggle room to wade a bit deeper into free agent waters. That could potentially lead to a reunion between Coen and one of his former wide receivers.
Could Liam Coen bring a former Rams WR with him to Buccaneers?
With Coen coming aboard as offensive coordinator, it's not outside the realm of possibility that he brings in some familiar faces to help install his system. We saw Dave Canales do that last year by signing David Moore and Coen could make a similar move and bring Van Jefferson with him to Tampa Bay.
Our friends over at JoeBucsFan threw out this hypothetical and it's an interesting one to ponder. The Bucs will need to figure out a replacement for Russell Gage, who is under contract but likely to be a salary cap casualty. He missed all of last season and the Bucs can save $11 million by releasing or trading him this offseason.
That's where Jefferson comes into play rather nicely. He was traded to Atlanta halfway through the season and ended up costing less than $1 million. Compare that aganist the savings the Bucs would reap by releasing Gage and all of a sudden the idea starts to make sense beyond simply being a friendly face for Coen.
Perhaps the bigger question here is what will the Bucs receiving corps look like next season? Assuming Mike Evans comes back, the trick will be figuring out who fills the WR3 role that Gage vacated when he was placed on IR last August.
Trey Palmer stepped up and played all 17 games for the Bucs in Gage's absence, finishing the season with 385 and three touchdowns. That's pretty on-par, albeit slightly under, what Gage did the year prior by posting 426 yards and five touchdowns in 2022.
Jefferson ended up way below those totals, logging just 209 yards without seeing the endzone a single time. A few different factors contributed to this, from being edged out by a trio of receivers in Los Angeles to falling into a pretty bad offensive system in Atlanta.
Adding Jefferson wouldn't be a make-or-break offseason addition, but it would check more than a few interesting boxes. He'd be a familiar face for Coen, would be way cheaper than keeping Gage, and would challenge Palmer for WR3 and potentially elevate his game.
We'll see what the Bucs end up doing, but it probably won't be long before Coen starts putting his stamp on the offense one way or another.