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Anytime a new regime / coaching staff takes over a team there are players that don’t necessarily fit their type of offense or defense. Now in the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers “New Regime” I feel a lot of players on the offensive side of the ball may be safer than some of the defensive players. This past season following drafting Jameis Winston number one overall it appears the Bucs have finally found their franchise quarterback as well as a very good linebacker in Kwon Alexander who they took in the 4th round, 124th pick overall. Before his suspension for use of PED’s Alexander was having a pretty darn good rookie campaign tallying 59 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions. Winston on the other hand accounted for over 4,000 passing yards while throwing 22 touchdowns and running in six more en route to being voted the Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
Vincent Jackson will be back with the Bucs following rumors he could be traded in the offseason due to his contract. Fellow wide receiver Mike Evans had another great year minus a few miscues following a short injury stint. Many fans have forgotten about Louis Murphy Jr and Kenny Bell who both had injuries last season. With those injuries the Buccaneers were able to give a guy like Adam Humphries a look and in limited time Humphries showed some good flashes and some not so good. I do think the Bucs will look at a free agent wide receiver or maybe even a rookie in the draft, but for the most part barring any unforeseen injury Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are one hundred percent safe. Humphries, Bell and Murphy will have to fight for playing time maybe even roster spots come training camp.
Logan Mankins has confirmed what many believed would eventually happen by announcing his retirement following an 11-year career and seven pro bowls. Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith came in as rookies and helped an offensive line that was pretty bad the year before. At the start of the new league year on Wednesday the Bucs signed G J.R. Sweezy to a five-year deal. He will head into training camp the odds on favorite to replace the retired Mankins. I see Marpet and Smith guaranteed starting spots with Joe Hawley expected to continue starting at center. The other two line positions could go to Demar Dotson, Gosder Cherilus or even Evan Smith.
When it pertains to the tight ends Austin Seferian-Jenkins has had a few injury issues which opened the door for the emergence of Cameron Brate. Starting out the season Seferian-Jenkins will be the starter in week one however, Cameron Brate will be the number two on the depth chart. Which leaves out Brandon Myers, and Luke Stocker who could stay with the team strictly as pass or run blockers.
With Doug Martin’s new five year contract he has solidified himself as the starter for the next five years. Charles Sims came on the scene last season as a very competent back up as well as a change of pace back. Bobby Rainey could return as the punt / kick returner, but Mike James is the odd man out at this point.
The defensive line has been a work in progress for a number of years. Not since Simeon Rice has the Bucs had a true threat at the defensive end position. Jacquies Smith and Howard Jones played decently during their brief time with the Bucs, but neither could end up starting week one. Gerald McCoy is to me the ONLY safe starter on the line right now. George Johnson had injury issues that kept him off the field at times and while the Bucs have a contracted Clinton McDonald It’s still up in the air who will start with McCoy come week one with Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel as free agents.
The Linebackers might be the safest spot on the defense. Lavonte David just signed a huge deal last offseason. While Kwon Alexander came off a dominant rookie campaign which ended too short due to suspension. Bruce Carter who was brought in initially to start at middle linebacker has since been released after one season with the Bucs. Danny Lansanah is a free agent so it’s up in the air if he returns to the team where he has had his most success.
The defensive backfield is as up in the air I couldn’t honestly tell you who is safe and who isn’t safe. I feel under Mike Smith the defense could have major shakeup as a whole. I believe we will see Alterraun Verner and Johnthan Banks may factor in to Smith’s plans, but I am not sure where he will go.
Kicker seems to be Connor Barth’s job once again this season as he took over for an injured Patrick Murray. Coincidentally Murray was the guy who beat out Barth for the job two years ago.
So there you have it Bucs fans, are you excited to see what Dirk Koetter can do now that he has control of the entire team? Can Mike Smith be the defensive guru again that got him his first head coaching job with Atlanta years ago? All I know is this is a team primed and ready for the future.
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