Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians spoke to the media yesterday in Indianapolis at the NFL combine and what they had to say gave us a clue as to how we can expect the Bucs to proceed with their free agents.
Arians has always said and reiterated again yesterday that the most important signing will be that of linebacker Shaq Barrett.
Arians was quoted late in the season as saying “he ain’t going nowhere.
Barrett set a new single season Buccaneer sack record with 19.5 sacks last season and Arians is confidant that that was not a one year thing, that Barrett can continue to have high productivity in the Bucs defense in the upcoming seasons.
Arians would like to see the team be able to keep the entire front seven together. That would mean the Bucs would need to re-sign unrestricted free agents Jason Pierre-Paul, Carl Nassib, and N’damukong Suh.
The Bucs currently have about 85 million dollars in cap space which is third most in the league behind Miami and Indianapolis.
Since the season ended the first week of January, Arians has also gone back and forth on his comments on quarterback Jameis Winston and if the Bucs will bring him back in 2020.
Arains made his most telling comments yet at the combine and Licht echoed those comments that the Bucs have already made the decision on Winston.
Arians also went on to say that the Bucs want to look at all available options for that position and they won’t be able to do that until that know for sure what other quarterbacks will be available.
Arians sounded intrigued on the possibility of kicking the tires on a Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers or Drew Brees.
Brady probably resigns with New England, Brees re-ups with the Saints, and Rivers may end up in Tennessee or Indianapolis.
Arians re-iterated that they can win with Winston as their quarterback and on the NFL Network said that they have made a decision on Jameis Winston, they are just waiting for all the quarterback dominoes to fall into place and see who may be available.
“We know what we’re going to do, and we still just got to see who else is available because you have to do your due diligence because you don’t always know if there’s a guy on the market.”
Arians would not say what the decision is, but reading between the lines it sure sounds as if Winston will be back in Tampa for the 2020 season.
Ryan Griffin is the only quarterback on the roster under contract right now, so the Bucs will need to look at possibly bringing back Blaine Gabbert on a new deal or going the free agent route.
For the first time since 2015 the Bucs will be scouting the quarterback position at the combine and if the Bucs do draft a quarterback according to Arians they will be looking for someone will who can come and play quickly.
“I don’t think we want one that’s going to be sitting on the bench for three years. If he is, he’s got to come at the right time in the draft and I think there’s some guys like that. Big upsides.”
With all the cap money available for the Bucs this off-season about 50 percent of that money will be gone with the re-signing of Barrett and Winston.
The Bucs have other needs as well. The offensive line has been in need of an upgrade for years now especially at tackle. DeMar Dotson is a free agent so that only adds to the urgency.
This team also needs a third down back, someone that can get the tough yards on third and one and third and two.
The Bucs also need to put aside about ten million dollars to sign their draft picks in the 2020 draft.
Between free agency and the draft, here are the Bucs top five priorities:
1. Sign Shaq Barrett
2. Sign Jameis Winston or figure out who will be under center for the Bucs in 2020.
3. Help along the offensive line (tackle)
4. Acquire a third down back
5. Depth on the defensive line