What changes to expect across the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Line
New Head Coach Lovie Smith has made the statement- and a powerful one it was. The Bucs overspent on its O line last year- that is to say the Bucs did not get enough value from the Offensive Line compared to how much money its being paid.
That says a lot..it speaks volumes to the future of each lineman and how they affect the Salary cap for 2014. So lets take a look at each position- who was there and if their job is safe.
LEFT TACKLE- Donald Penn
Penn is in his 30s now and gave up 11 sacks last year- one of the tops in the league. But Penn also makes top dollar for that performance so he could easily be the first target for Lovie Smith. Just over 7 Million dollars would free up from the Bucs Cap next year if they release him. But who will play LT? Well Demar Dodson for starters. The Bucs believed he would be the next left tackle last year; and this new regime will probably feel the same way.
Penn should be allowed to compete for his job- but don’t be surprised if he is given a shot and let go before he counts against the cap.
LEFT GUARD- CARL NICKS
Word is Nicks has healed and is doing well. Thats good news but he hasn’t played any string of real games in 3 years. Nicks wouldn’t be a 9 Million dollar relief to the Cap so expect him to be given a shot at making the team. If not the next best option has been Jeremy Zuttah. It seemed whenever Zuttah excelled last year it was at left guard not Center. Zuttah can play multiple positions on the line and is very valuable but he too carries some Cap money to be freed up; 4.5 million would be freed up- but don’t expect the Bucs to do so with this valuable component. Nicks on the other hand will either play or be on his way out.
CENTER- JEREMY ZUTTAH is the current starter here but I believe he will find his way over to Left or right guard if Nicks cannot be the stud the Bucs brought him here to be. Alex Mac the pro bowl Center for the Cleveland Browns may be the guy here- but the Browns just put the transition tag on Mac before the deadline which means if the Bucs sign him- Clevland has a chance to match the offer which is one of the big differences between the transition and franchise tag. Bucs offensive line coach George Warhop worked with Mack and would be a big reason he may want to come to the Bucs. Mack will command the average of the 10 prior year salaries at his position so the Bucs will have to really beat that and hope Cleveland won’t match it. A lot of what happens at LG determines what happens here.
RIGHT GUARD- DAVIN JOSEPH
An original draft pick of the Bucs from 2006 and senior most Buc player Joeseph had a tough year in 2013 coming off a serious injury. But now he is two years removed and could be ready to dominate once again. Bucs coaches will know right off the bat so expect the Bucs to know way before camp how their RG fares in things to come. Davin like Nicks counts 9 million dollars towards the cap so he will either play well or be gone to free up money.
RIGHT TACKLE- DEMAR DOTSON
Dotson is a lock at right tackle- the only way he won’t be at right tackle is if the Bucs move him over to Left Tackle to replace Donald Penn. New Bucs GM Jason Licht has said he intends to give Dotson some reps at LT but if Penn plays well the Bucs will be happy to keep the status quo. Demar signed a 7.5 million dollar 4 year deal so not a lot of cap room to maneuver here.
TIGHT END- TIM WRIGHT
Wright was one of the pleasant surprises in 2013 and could be the Bucs first exciting tight end since Kellen Winslow Jr. Every decade or so the Bucs have a guy like that at Tight End going back to Ron Hall and the great Gimmie Giles. But Wright is really a slow big Wide Out and cannot block like a big muscle Tight End. Expect the Bucs to address this position in either free agency or the draft as its a high need. Then Tampa Bay can run double Tight End sets and throw from them with Wright and another Receiver.
We will know how the Bucs feel next week going into free agency. But it’s not until the draft that the Bucs real knowledge of the players situations will be known. With a new Head Coach the Bucs will get an extra camp- that will be very helpful in getting this line on the same page.no comments