I had my doubts at first about Gaines Adams, (but) the kid turned it on toward the end of the season. He must put on 20 to 30 pounds of muscle in the offseason. I also think Kevin Carter’s days are over. We need another left tackle. BADLY!!!! We need speed on the ends (and) Carter is slow. Adams will be much better this year. I honestly believe in him. I would love to train him. I could take him where he needs to be by preseason. — RustyBuc76
Matthew Postins: Adams certainly did have an above average second half of the season, and he registered the only sack of the postseason. I also agree that he does need to gain some weight, though I don’t know if 20-30 pounds is necessary. I actually think 10 to 15 pounds would be a good number for him. You don’t want to put too much bulk on Adams and neutralize his speed, which is his greatest asset. I expect Adams to have a better season in 2008, perhaps double-digit sacks.
As for Carter, I would say his best days are behind him. He is in his mid-30s after all. But he’s still valuable to this team for a few reasons. He’s versatile enough to play inside and outside. He’s a solid run defender, especially at left tackle. And he’s willing to serve as a mentor to the Bucs’ younger linemen. Left tackle is more of a run-stopping position in most defenses, so you don’t necessarily want two pure speed guys on the ends. Carter isn’t costing the Bucs a lot in salary, either. They should keep him, but also look to groom his eventual replacement, which could be second-year end/tackle Greg Peterson or someone the Bucs draft in April.
I would like to hear an honest answer about Carnell Williams. Should we use a first-round or second-round pick on a running back. I have my opinion about him and would love to hear yours first. — RustyBuc76
MP: You’re a busy dude, Rusty. Thanks for the question. I believe at some point this year Carnell Williams will be healthy enough to hit the practice field. I just don’t think it will be in enough time for him to be ready for the regular season. If his rehab goes perfectly — and GM Bruce Allen told us recently that Williams has had some “good days” — I could see him being in football shape and ready by midseason. That patellar tendon injury is a tough one to overcome and there’s no telling what kind of back he will be when he returns.
For that reason, the Bucs must protect themselves in some way. Aside from Williams, Earnest Graham is the only back you can count on being back. The free agent pool isn’t great (Michael Turner is the one big name), but there are some adequate complementary backs like Mewelde Moore. And watch Carolina. There’s a possibility that DeShaun Foster could be released. He might be an option.
I don’t think spending a first-round pick on a back is a possibility at this time. I could change my mind based on what I see in the next two months. A second-round pick seems more palatable. But the issue there is you probably won’t get a bell-cow type of back — at least I don’t think so. Later this week you can read the opinion of one of our draft analysts, Scout.com’s Chris Steuber, who believes there are two backs that could go in the second round that could fit the bill. My Q&A with Chris is a good read and will be on the site on Thursday.
I think you will see the Bucs be active in signing at least one back in free agency, perhaps two, and potentially draft one. They can’t simply wish and hope Williams will be ready by training camp. I think they’ll find a way to protect themselves, but I don’t think you’ll be seeing Allen introducing Michael Turner or Darren McFadden at a press conference anytime soon.
Free agency starts real soon. Everyone give a top 5 list, in order of importance, which positions (not players) we should target in free agency and maybe why you think that way.— iDRIVEaCADDY
MP: First, Caddy, welcome back. I wrote two articles about team priorities this offseason earlier this year. Here are the links to Part 1 and Part 2. They’re good reading.
Second, here’s my quick list:
1. Defensive tackle: I think the Bucs defense will make the next step when they find that inside run stopper. There’s a great one in free agency — if he hits the market.
2. Wide receiver: The top two receivers in 2007 were over 30, and neither of the younger receivers we all expected to step up have. It’s time for a change.
3. Running back: I think we’ve covered this sufficiently.
4. Cornerback: One must start thinking of life without Ronde Barber and Brian Kelly.
5. Tight end : If Anthony Becht and Jerramy Stevens both bolt in free agency, the Bucs have Alex Smith and that’s it.
If you missed my premium series on what eight free agents I believe the Bucs should eye, here are the links for Part 1 and Part 2.
Until next week, people.
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Listen to Bucsblitz.com’s Matthew Postins every Tuesday with former Buccaneers linebacker Scot Brantley on WHBO 1470 ESPN Radio in Tampa and Clearwater from 3-6 p.m. If you miss the show, check out Bucsblitz.com’s exclusive team media center for Postins’ archived appearances.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for Bucsblitz.com and the Charlotte (Fla.) Sun-Herald. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and his coverage of the Buccaneers has won numerous state and national awards.