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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds solutions your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account every week within the Bucs Monday Mailbag. Submit your query to the Bucs Monday Mailbag every week by way of Twitter utilizing the hashtag #PRMailbag. Listed below are the questions we selected to reply for this week’s version.
QUESTION: Ought to the Bucs signal vast receiver Julio Jones? May he assist change Chris Godwin if he’s not able to go in Week 1?
ANSWER: Pewter Report’s J.C. Allen addressed this to a level over the weekend in a story on Julio Jones on PewterReport.com. I believe there are 4 large points with Jones doubtlessly signing with the Bucs – age, harm, function and wage.
The primary is his age. Jones is 33 years outdated and is coming off his worst season statistically. After Tennessee acquired him in a commerce with Atlanta, Jones had 31 catches for 434 yards and one landing. When he was wholesome, he was an excellent complementary receiver to A.J. Brown. The truth that he nonetheless averaged 14 yards per catch was considerably encouraging. However Jones missed seven video games as a result of a recurring hamstring harm.
That’s the second largest concern. Jones has missed a complete of 13 video games with hamstring accidents over the previous two seasons. He missed six video games with the Falcons in 2020 and 7 final 12 months with the Titans. Jones hardly practiced in any respect final 12 months. I requested long-time Titans reporter Terry McCormick for his evaluation of Jones’ play in 2021.
“At this stage, he’s most likely a task participant – a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver,” McCormick mentioned. “He can nonetheless catch the ball in site visitors and even make the spectacular catch. He’s not as quick anymore, so the YAC (yards after catch) may not be there. The largest situation with Jones now could be his well being. His hamstring has plagued him for 2 years now. In a restricted function, he may be efficient, however I wouldn’t count on a 70-catch season from him simply due to harm points.”
At age 33 and given his stature within the league, Jones couldn’t be counted on to contribute on particular groups. So, if the Bucs did signal him, it could be much like the signing of Antonio Brown. However that implies that the highest 4 receivers on the depth chart – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Jones – wouldn’t play on particular groups. When Godwin returns to the lineup, whether or not it’s the primary week of the season or shortly thereafter, would Jones and his ego thoughts a diminished function? He could be WR4 on this state of affairs.
Jones is solely not the Buc-killer he was in his 20s with the Falcons. He had one 100-yard recreation final 12 months in Tennessee, and that got here in Week 2 towards Seattle. He didn’t rating his lone landing of the season till Week 18 towards Houston. Jones’ expertise have diminished. But, he’s a big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-3, 220 kilos and has expertise enjoying within the slot. He might assist there in Godwin’s absence.
“He might do some issues within the slot, in addition to outdoors,” McCormick mentioned. “His route working was ok for the slot, in addition to outdoors. For little bursts, he was superb and nonetheless explosive, however simply couldn’t do it as persistently as they wanted him to for the cash they have been paying. Titans by no means complained about him as a run blocker. He did okay at it, however A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook have been each higher at run blocking than Julio was.”
So, what’s the 33-year outdated Jones now value? He could be a task participant in Tampa Bay and positively not definitely worth the $11.513 million that the Titans paid him final 12 months. Not even shut. It must be a contract much like what the Bucs paid Antonio Brown – possible round $2 million for the prospect to catch passes from Tom Brady and win a Tremendous Bowl ring. Is that ok for Jones? There doesn’t appear to be lots of demand for him proper now. He stays an choice for the Bucs at vast receiver.
QUESTION: I used to be rooting for James Bradberry and Melvin Ingram as free agent signings to go “all in” on Tom Brady’s final 12 months. It labored for us two years in the past and labored for the Rams final 12 months. However this 12 months looks like we’re in, however with an eye fixed on the long run with our cap. Who else can we get to go all-in?
ANSWER: The excellent news is that we’re nonetheless two months away from the start of coaching camp and over three months away from the beginning of the season. I’ll remind you that Bucs common supervisor Jason Licht has made some key late additions earlier than. In 2014, Licht claimed defensive finish Jacquies Smith off waivers earlier than Week 1 and he turned an immediate starter for the Bucs. He had 13.5 sacks in two seasons earlier than a torn ACL in Week 1 ended his 2016 early and disrupted his profession. He was by no means the identical participant once more.
Licht did the identical factor in 2018 with Carl Nassib. He claimed the sting rusher off waivers from Cleveland and Nassib wound up being a part-time starter for the Bucs. He logged six sacks his first season as a defensive finish, and 6.5 sacks as an out of doors linebacker when Todd Bowles arrived in 2019. I wouldn’t be stunned if Nassib is on the Bucs’ brief listing at outdoors linebacker given his expertise within the scheme.
Operating again Leonard Fournette was signed earlier than the 2020 season began and “Playoff Lenny” was instrumental in serving to the Bucs win Tremendous Bowl LV. That was a significant “all in” signing for the Bucs. So, there have been a number of situations the place Licht has added gamers who wound up as starters proper earlier than the season began.
Tampa Bay has additionally added key gamers in the course of the season, too. In 2015, Licht signed heart Joe Hawley on Sept. 14. He would step in because the starter for the injured Evan Dietrich-Smith. Then, he was signed to a two-year contract extension to be the Bucs’ starter. Licht additionally traded for defensive deal with Steve McLendon when Vita Vea went down with an harm early in 2020.
And naturally, the Bucs additionally signed vast receiver Antonio Brown in November 2020. That was one other “all in” addition by Licht, evidenced by Brown’s key landing at Washington within the playoffs. And there was his TD catch proper earlier than halftime in Tremendous Bowl LV.
The Bucs’ roster will not be finalized for 2022 but. And there may be loads of time for Licht so as to add just a few extra key items – and loads of free brokers accessible. Signing one other edge rusher and defensive deal with looks as if a should. Including one other receiver and/or a good finish additionally appears possible.
QUESTION: Is the truth that the Bucs are signing extra tight ends once more a sign that they know Rob Gronkowski will not be coming again?
ANSWER: The Bucs did signal undrafted free agent tryout participant J.J. Howland after the rookie mini-camp. The Yale tight finish caught every thing that weekend and is considered one of 4 rookie tight ends on the roster. The Bucs drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, then signed Ben Beise after the draft earlier than including Howland. Do these signings have something to do with Rob Gronkowski? After all they do. But it surely doesn’t imply that Gronk gained’t return.
After all, the Bucs hope that Gronkowski will re-sign to Tampa Bay for a 3rd season. However the crew has to safeguard towards the truth that he might retire. It’s somewhat perilous simply using into the season with Cameron Brate because the lone veteran. So, if Gronk does retire, I might see the Bucs signing one other skilled tight finish.
Brate might be 31 in July and Gronkowski simply turned 33. Beginning a youth motion on the tight finish spot is crucial proper now for the way forward for the place. Getting a have a look at these younger tight ends – even the undrafted free brokers – in OTAs, mini-camp and coaching camp might assist the Bucs put together for all times after Gronkowski and Brate. They usually might uncover a gem like they did with Brate again in 2014.
If Gronkowski does return to the Bucs, the four-deep chart will possible include Gronk, Brate, Otton and Kieft. If Beise and/or Howland impress greater than Codey McElroy, one or each may very well be placed on the apply squad to develop.