How much salary cap space is left at this point? I'm also curious about the staff's plans for (Michael) Bennett, (Jerramy) Stevens, (Ryan) Sims and (Michael) Pittman. Does (Kenneth) Darby have a future with us? Anything at all worthwhile left in FA? — Woof69
MATTHEW POSTINS As far as the salary cap is concerned, Woof, I'll refer to you to the article I just wrote on the subject. Link to it by clicking here. You'll be surprised at how much they have left (or, maybe not).
As for the rest of your questions, here goes. Bennett, I think, will be a situational back who gets about 5-7 touches a game. Warrick Dunn will take some away from him. Jerramy Stevens isn't coming back. The Bucs already have four tight ends. Sims will likely have to fight for his job, as I wasn't very impressed with his play last year. He never seemed to be in shape. Pittman probably won't be back, either. Several teams are interested and he'd like to return, but there doesn't appear to be room now. I think Darby is one of the reasons Pittman isn't going to be back.
As for the staff's plans, no one knows. But I'll try and find out on Wednesday when I talk to Jon Gruden at the owners' meeting in Palm Beach. Look for those articles over the next couple of weeks, starting with an article later today on his reaction to Chris Simms not taking part in voluntary offseason workouts in Tampa.
I wanted to see how some other fans thought how Eugene Wilson would do playing cornerback in the Tampa 2 defense? I believe he will do fine personally but, by no means is he a shutdown corner. Thoughts? — BuccaneerBruce76
MATTHEW POSTINS First, I'll refer you to the "Buccaneers Analysis" article we did on Wilson last week. Patriotsinsider.com's Jon Scott helped us with our breakdown and he had a lot of insight into Wilson's talent.
The Bucs only signed him to a one-year deal. I think it's a way of finding out if Wilson can play corner full-time. It's also good for Wilson, who can hit the market again if he has a good year in Tampa Bay with a resume that includes time at safety and cornerback. But you're right. He's not a shutdown corner and he'll likely only be a nickel or dime corner in the Cover 2.
Hey guys, I've heard that Chris Simms is a little unhappy being a Buc. Is this true? If so how's his health and do you guys think Gruden is interested in moving him? — Natta69
MATTHEW POSTINS I addressed this last week in this article. Click here to give it a read.
I think it's very telling that Simms isn't going to participate in optional offseason workouts. That shows his unhappiness with the situation. I think there are some aspects of this situation that haven't been handled well, but ultimately the time has arrived for Simms to leave. Our Scout.com insider Adam Caplan told me recently he believes there's still a trade market out there for Simms, if the Bucs are interested in moving him for a late-round pick. He sounds as if he's completely healthy now and he should generate interest from teams that employ a vertical passing game. Still, it will be a hard trade to make and it's just as likely that Simms will be a free agent sometime this year.
I believe that if we can get a strong defensive tackle in this draft that could be huge for the success for this team. From reports that I'm hearing, Glenn Dorsey's draft value is fluctuating all over the place due to the reports of his injury. If he falls to Nos. 9, 10, or 11, I think it might be worth it to give up a third-round pick and next years second-round pick to get him (that's what would be needed, according to the Draft Value Chart), and move up from 20. Also, if (Illinois' Rashard) Mendenhall gets to the Broncos at No. 12, maybe we could move up to there for a second and a fourth. I doubt Carolina would allow us to go up to 13. Trading up to get Mendenhall could mean trading Earnest Graham for maybe a third or fourth rounder, lessening the blow of trading up. I'm not saying they should take this route, but I won't be upset at all if they do. Any thoughts? – TBayXXXVII.
MATTHEW POSTINS I applaud the amount of thought you've put into this. I expect Dorsey's value to stabilize in the lower part of the Top 10. Don't count on the Saints being a trade partner at No. 10 if Dorsey drops to them. If he does, I think the Saints will take him because they have a similar need. The Bucs would have to move up to No. 9 to have a chance, if he's there. I agree this team needs a defensive tackle in this draft, but I think it's more likely they'll address it in the third or fourth round, and there are some talented players in that range that could be of assistance immediately.
As for Mendenhall, I'm not buying that the Bucs will take a running back in the first round, much less move up that high or give up that much to get one, even one of Mendenhall's ability. I firmly believe they're going to address a different need in the first round. If they were more set at certain positions like wide receiver and cornerback, I could see them taking that gamble. But with only five selections to begin with, they really have to maximize what they get out of their picks this year.
MATTHEW POSTINS I concur. The national media is getting all lovey-dovey with the fact that Gruden is a quarterback guy and they see the aging QBs on the roster as a way to saying, "It's time to draft a young one high." That just won't happen, and my answer to the next question will shed some light as to why.
In the interest of getting to the point, I've truncated part of this question.
The fact that we need a future star (at quarterback) is undeniable, like everybody else. Using a first-round pick to get a long-term project may not be smart. Quarterbacks are the biggest crapshoot this side of Vegas and smart guys like Bill Walsh said he would never draft a QB before round 3. He ended up with Montana and Young. — Woof69
MATTHEW POSTINS Woof's original post was a long one, but he made a good point. It doesn't matter how talented a quarterback is — he still has to produce. I'll take it one step further, Woof. The Bucs should stay away from a quarterback in this draft period. None of the prospects excite me. Plus, the Bucs have Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese, and I think Luke McCown can be that guy of the future. Plus, history shows that veteran quarterbacks do much better in Gruden's offense than younger players. I wrote an article on it last year. Gruden's prototypical QB is over 30, a low-round draft pick and highly accurate, and both Garcia and Griese fit the mold. Gruden is actually better off ignoring the position in the draft, as it seems young QBs don't respond to his coaching style or his playbook. He should simply look to sign a veteran QB every few years that fits that criteria and build a more talented team around him.
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.