As free agency inches closer it will all become clear later this week as to what the Bucs plan to do with Jameis Winston and Shaq Barrett.
You don’t want to make more of the decisions that Jason Licht and the Bucs front office will make this week, but the decisions made this week will impact this Bucs team for the next decade.
Make the wrong decision and this Bucs team will continue to languish in mediocrity and continue to be disrespected around the NFL.
Make the right decisions, and the fortunes of the Bucs turn around quickly and the Bucs will rise from the depths of mediocrity.
We will get a good idea on what the Bucs plan to do at the quarterback position. The rumors are all over the place on Jameis Winston and everyone firmly believing that they somehow have special inside information and know what the Bucs are going to do.
No one knows what the Bucs are going to do except Jason Licht and Bruce Arians. Arians on the NFL Network when asked if he knew what the team was going to do said that they did know what they were going to do but were waiting to see what other options would be available in free agency before announcing their decision.
Complicating the matter is the new NFL collective bargaining agreement which could be ratified on March 12th right before the free agency period opens.
As it stands right now there are two different tags that can be used to tag players. The franchise tag and the transition tag.
One of those tags is expected to be eliminated with the new bargaining agreement. That means the Bucs would have to decide if they are going to use that tag on edge rusher Shaq Barrett, or quarterback Jameis Winston.
Arians has said in no uncertain terms that Barrett is not going anywhere and Barrett has said that he would like to stay with the Buccaneers.
When free agency opens, Winston is free to negotiate with any NFL team. Most folks do not think that Winston will get anywhere close to the 25-30 Million dollars that he will reportedly ask for on the open market.
The Bucs will be rolling the dice if they do not offer a contract to Winston and let him test the free agent waters.
The Bucs NFL draft plans could change depending on the outcome of the Winston saga.
If the Bucs sign Winston to a one year prove it contract with an option year, they may wait to take a quarterback in the middle rounds of the draft and go with an offensive tackle with the 14th pick.
If they let Winston walk, then they will have to sign a quarterback in free agency or trade for a quarterback. They could also take a quarterback with their 14th pick in the draft if they believe he will be ready to play this season.
Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, and Nick Foles are names that have been talked about that could be traded by their respective teams.
Phillip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, and Ryan Tannehill all free agents have been linked at some point to be the starting Buccaneer quarterback in 2020.
None of the above would be able to take this team the way it is constructed to the playoffs.
The bigger impact to this team will be the decision to bring back Shaq Barrett.
Arians said at the NFL combine that signing Barrett is a top priority and that he would like to keep the front defensive seven together.
That seems unlikely at this point, but stranger things have happened.
Barrett will probably be tagged with the franchise tag while the team negotiates a long term contract.
The Bucs will be one of the busier teams in free agency. With north of 90 million dollars to spend, the needs are many.
Offensive tackle, running back, defensive line depth, a possible third wide receiver if Breshad Perriman leaves.
One of the biggest weeks in franchise history is here. Let’s hope the front office makes the right decisions to get this team back to consistently winning football games and end the playoff drought.