After their splashy acquisitions largely failed to live up to expectations in the past several seasons, the Buccaneers took a different approach to the offseason this year. Rather than swinging for the fences, as they did with players like Anthony Collins and Michael Johnson, Tampa Bay instead focused on solid players who might not have come with a big price tag, but who nonetheless have a familiarity with the Tampa 2 scheme and who can serve as capable building blocks for the team’s roster.
As Roy Cummings of The Tampa Tribune writes, new acquisitions Henry Melton, Chris Conte, Bruce Carter, and Sterling Moore all either played under head coach Lovie Smith in Chicago or are otherwise familiar with the Tampa 2 system. The Bucs hope that Carter in particular can become the driving force behind a rejuvenated defense, as he provides the coverage ability and play-making potential from the inside linebacker position that is often necessary for a Tampa 2 unit to thrive.
Let’s take a look at a few more notes from Tampa Bay:
- Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com offers a few predictions regarding the 2015 draft. He notes that the Bucs have done “an enormous amount of homework” on Jameis Winston, but they will not take Winston with the first overall pick unless they feel his off-field issues are completely behind him. Yasinskas says Marcus Mariota is still in play, and he would be a nice alternative if the club still has reservations about Winston.
- In the same piece, Yasinskas notes that Tampa Bay almost has to take an offensive lineman or defensive end with its second pick in the draft after it takes a signal-caller with its first overall choice. The needs at those positions are simply too great to ignore, Yasinskas believes. He thinks the Bucs will still sign a free agent offensive lineman and add another in the early rounds of the draft.
- Gil Brandt of NFL.com tweets that Mariota will work out for the Bucs next Tuesday, April 7, one week after Winston’s pro day.
- As Yasinskas pointed out, the Bucs may not draft Winston if they are not convinced his non-football problems are a thing of the past. But Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times writes that Smith is a big believer in giving second chances to players who have had off-field problems, and he would therefore not shy away from Winston. In the past year, the Bucs have strongly considered acquiring Richie Incognito, Greg Hardy, and Adrian Peterson, and when Smith was head coach of the Bears, he drafted Cedric Benson with the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft and stood by Tank Johnson following Johnson’s legal troubles in 2006.
- Joe Kania of Buccaneers.com tweets that the Bucs are one of the teams with whom Pittsburgh OT T.J. Clemmings has had a private workout.