Free agent guard could 'push for a starting job' on Buccaneers offensive line

It sounds like there could be a chance Tampa Bay has already solved its guard problem.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Indianapolis Colts / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

After a free agency that Jason Licht dubbed the best the team has ever had, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have some pretty important spots on the roster that need to be filled. Nobody is going to complain about the team bringing back Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans, among others, but the work isn't done yet.

One of the most glaring needs is offensive line. Tristan Wirfs should be considered the only sure thing Tampa Bay has upfront, with all of the other positions up for grabs. Some guys, like Cody Mauch and Luke Goedeke, seem to be in a good position to try and prove themselves next year but it's not a very long list.

That's partially why the Bucs went out and signed some help in free agency. Tampa Bay was priced out of the upper-tier of the market pretty quickly, but that didn't stop them from singing Sua Opeta and Ben Bredeson. It also won't preclude the team from spending some valuable draft capital on offensive linemen, which seems to be the safest prediction to make.

While the Bucs are absolutely going to try and draft some players to upgrade the line, some of the answers the team seeks might already be in the building.

Sua Opeta could push for Buccaneers starting guard job

According to ESPN's Jenna Laine, the Bucs could already have their starting guard on the roster. Sua Opeta was signed away from the Eagles in free agency and viewed mostly as a depth addition, but there's a chance he could end up starting when Week 1 rolls around.

"It's entirely possible Opeta could push for a starting job here. He produced a 90.9% pass block win rate from the guard position last year -- 44th in the league among guards with 500 or more snaps at that position," Laine wrote. "That's not a staggering number, but it's an upgrade over what they got out of Aaron Stinnie (88.9%) and Cody Mauch (84.8%) last year, but there's most certainly room for improvement."

Opeta is a perfectly fine option, but the Bucs can't afford to settle for anything less than the perfect player. That might end up being Opeta, but he's also coming to Tampa Bay as a rotational lineman rather than a piece of Philadelphia's stout offensive line.

The Bucs went down that road last season, signing Matt Feiler in an attempt to upgrade the line. It didn't work, but it was also a product of the team not having a ton of money to spent.

This year Tampa Bay did have money to spend but opted to not overpay for a free agent. That was smart, as was bringing in Opeta as reasonably priced depth. Whoever the Bucs draft will have the inside track on the starting job, but hearing that there's such high hopes for Opeta puts the team in an ideal situation.

We've just watched back-to-back seasons of the Bucs struggling to find consistent talent on the line. It now sounds like whichever rookie -- or multiple rookies -- the team adds will have a nice system of support that didn't really exist a year ago.

Time will tell, but it seems like things are finally trending in the right direction.

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