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How Improved Is Tampa Bay?


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How improved is Tampa Bay?

Examining how each big free-agent signing will help the Buccaneers

Originally Published: March 19, 2012By Gary Horton | Scouts Inc.

US PresswireThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made a big splash in free agency so far.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers promised that they would be active in this year's free-agent market, and so far they've been true to their word. The Bucs have already signed three impact players in wide receiver Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright, while also securing a solid backup quarterback in Dan Orlovsky.

With a ton of cap space coming into free agency, it was expected that Tampa Bay would be a big spender. How much have the Bucs actually improved their team? Are they now ready to compete in an extremely competitive NFC South? Let's look a little closer at how much each free-agent acquisition improves their team …

1. WR Vincent Jackson

At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he was the premier wide receiver on the open market and he should become Josh Freeman's new favorite weapon. He is everything that the Bucs have been lacking in their passing game. With his size, he can give Tampa Bay great production on third down and in the red zone with his ability to elevate and snatch the high ball. However, his biggest upside may be his vertical route-running and his ability to stretch the field unlike anyone on the Tampa Bay roster currently can. Greg Schiano wants to pound the ball with the run game and then take some vertical shots off play-action on offense. Jackson will loosen up defenses, and he will dominate one-on-one coverage. This guy averaged more than 18 yards a catch in 2011 and may be the best seam-route runner in the NFL.

2. G Carl Nicks

In my opinion, he is the most dominant inside player in the offensive line in the NFL and I have always felt that even though his ex-teammate, Jahri Evans, got the big contract a year ago Nicks was the better player. He is a massive player with long arms, is a natural knee bender and a great finisher. Although he was in a pass-first offense in New Orleans, he is a terrific run-blocker and he dominates at the line of scrimmage. With the Bucs he will get a better chance to show his run-blocking skills in Schiano's physical, run-first philosophy. He will team with another Pro Bowl guard, Davin Joseph, while current guard Jeremy Zuttah will move to center, giving the Bucs potentially the best interior offensive line in the NFL. The O-line will provide a much better pocket in pass protection for Freeman than it did a year ago. Not only does signing Nicks make the Bucs a lot better, but it also weakens a division opponent, New Orleans, and that is always a good thing.

3. CB Eric Wright

Wright fills a desperate need for the Bucs at the position that has a lot of questions right now. Ronde Barber may retire, and even if he comes back he no longer has elite cover skills. Last year's other starting corner, Aqib Talib, may not even be able to play in 2012, depending on his trial -- he could be suspended or even serve jail time. Wright has good man and zone skills and he really understands and anticipates routes well, which helps his break on the ball. He can line up against the opponent's best receiver and hold his own. On a defense that may play more combo coverages than the primary Cover 2 it played in the past, that ability is especially important.

4. QB Dan Orlovsky

Orlovsky may not be an impact player, but he will fit in this offense because he has a similar skill set to Freeman, who is a traditional drop-back QB. He has limited mobility and won't dazzle you in any specific area, but he is a smart guy who can read his progressions and manage the game in this run-oriented offense.

The value of these contracts is more than $140 million, and while Tampa Bay still has $15 million left in cap space, don't expect this spending spree to continue. The quality of this free-agent crop combined with the Bucs' specific needs created this perfect storm of signings, but this is an organization that primarily wants to build through the draft. This group of free agents gives the Bucs a head start in 2012, and while they will look at more midlevel help in free agency, the big deals are likely done for them.

Helping Tampa Bay's situation this offseason even more is its draft position. With the No. 5 overall pick, the Bucs could be staring at Alabama RB Trent Richardson or LSU CB Morris Claiborne -- and either would be a great pick at a position of need. Richardson is a complete back who would flourish running behind this offensive line. He brings more consistency and less fumbling than current starter LeGarrette Blount, although they could be a formidable one-two punch in a power run game. Claiborne could team with Wright and give Tampa Bay two elite corners who could play any coverage. If Barber comes back, he might become the nickel corner.

After a disappointing 4-12 campaign in 2011, Tampa Bay has made a big splash so far in free agency. If Freeman shakes off an underachieving 2011 and the Bucs' young front seven on defense dominates like it should, this could be the Cinderella team of 2012. If that indeed happens, the Bucs will look back at the first week of free agency as one of the biggest reasons.

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Seriously though, I think Tampa was aggressive (maybe a little TOO aggressive considering the contracts), but that $$ went towards players that either are quite talented now or were at one time. VJ at his best is a beast. Nicks is one of the best. I am not sold on Eric Wright - my buddy is a HUGE Browns fan and I went with him to Cleveland to see the Falcons game a couple years back. He would not stop telling me how horrible Wright is. I don't think he is THAT bad, but he won't be able to stop the likes of Jones, White, Colston, or Smith in our division.

I don't think we will be seeing anymore 10 straight losses out of the Bucs again anytime soon...

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Tampa still has questions at the QB position.

I agree with this. I have to see what Josh Freeman does. Also when was the last time a Big FA WR made a Impact on the team he signed a big deal with? TO maybe.

Edited by Resse
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I find being tagged for a response vaguely spooky. As far as how improved the Bucs are, that's going to depend more on the new coaching staff than the free agent acquisitions, although I don't think they did themselves a favor wrapping so much money up in a few specific players.

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Guest Negatorris

Its all on the coaches and Josh Freeman. we now know the talent is there so I don't see a reason for them sucking again.

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If Freeman and Jackson get their *** in gear and build a great rapport then I think they are really really improved.

Jackson is the type of wr that helps his qb where you can just throw the ball up and he can come down with it and he is a physical mismatch for any corner in the division..

The thing that is the most concern is is he a guy who is goingto bust his *** now that he got a pay day.

Is he going to be A david boston type player who got paid and got lazy or a guy like Roddy White or Andre Johnson who got paid and worked harder and became better then before.

If he works like White and Johnson then I think Tampa is a formidable formidable foe.

With a bruising back like Blount, a good TE in Winslow, good 2nd and 3rd options in Williams and Benn and an improved oline they should be good if Freeman and Jackson get on the same paige early.

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That's a mighty big IF. But, the nice thing for us now is there is at least the possibility.

The b1tch of it all is, with Vjax, the Panthers will devote Gamble to covering Vjax the entire game, instead of moving him about, like they did last year. Opening your other WRs up to rip on Captain and Martin.

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I think they have had a great offseason...Jackson is going to make Benn a much more scary weapon since Jackson and Winslow demand attention from safeties...Williams had trouble getting seperation from #1 db's and being able to be in the slot plays to his strengths too...their o-line was already strong and just got better...and as for them over paying they would be backing themselves up against the cap except that in 2 years when all that tv money hits the cap will go up considerably..all in all id say they had a pretty good offseason considering all the money they had available and team needs.

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I think they have had a great offseason...Jackson is going to make Benn a much more scary weapon since Jackson and Winslow demand attention from safeties...Williams had trouble getting seperation from #1 db's and being able to be in the slot plays to his strengths too...their o-line was already strong and just got better...and as for them over paying they would be backing themselves up against the cap except that in 2 years when all that tv money hits the cap will go up considerably..all in all id say they had a pretty good offseason considering all the money they had available and team needs.

The other nice thing regarding this there were no no signing bonuses to have to prorate in any of the contracts.

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16-0

I'll be happy with 8-8, although if Freeman can prove last season was not the norm and those left on the team that took those last 10 games off for vacation decide winning is more fun than losing we can do better but if this isn't the case I can see us being as bad as all the Falcon fans are hoping for.

Edited by jb.069
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I see very little has changed around here. smile.png

As to the topic, VJ isnt alvin harper 2.0... Sorry falcon fans

DUDE!!!!! WHERE YA BEEN? I've been having to fight the good fight here with very little help from fellow BUC Fans (I think Yardbird has basically given up) which is something I'll never be able to do!.

You like our free agent haul? I wished we could've done something at linebacker. See what the Eagles did? They traded a 4th round pick in the 2013 draft for Demeco Ryans! Smart move, I just wish we'd have done it!

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