The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a new team. Enter Head Coach, Greg Schiano. Other than the savvy veteran, Ronde Barber, there is nothing but an youth on this squad; returning an offensive core of LeGarrett Blount, Kellen Winslow, Jr., and Josh Freeman. There is more young talent on defense- a lot of it. The Bucs disappointed with a 4-12 season in 2011. Josh Freeman did not live up to Sophomore hype, and Raheem Morris’ time was cut short as the Bucs’ signal caller. The team was young, but this writer says, the NFC South’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a new team.
It’s crazy to believe that the Bucs arguably had the best offseason in NFL free agency and in the NFL Draft. Okay, I guess the Broncos had the best free agency in 2012, but the Bucs are a close second. The Bucs signed veteran, Guard, Carl Nicks and veteran, Cornerback, Eric Wright to five-year contracts. The biggest free agent to come to Tampa Bay since I can remember: Wide Receiver, Vincent Jackson, rounds out the cream of the Bucs’ class. These three veterans take them to the next level. It’s been established that they under-achieved last season, so with that factored into my predictions, the Bucs are sitting pretty around 8-8 or 9-7 next season with these signings.
Now, let’s factor the draft into the equation. As smart as the Bucs’ first three picks were, I’m going to assume management had an eye for late round talent and added other contributors the Cats’ will have to get acquainted with. I can’t get enough of how scary the Bucs got during the first part of the draft. First, the Buccaneers traded Round 1, Pick 5 to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Round 1, Pick 7 and Round 4, Pick 101. Moving down, was their first surprising move as they turned down Patrick Peterson and big-play threat Justin Blackmon. As mentioned above, Cornerback and Wide Reciever were positions already addressed through free agency. They opted to go with Alabama Safety, Mark Barron. A punishing tackler with prototype measurable’s means he will be the kind of player you design plays away from. Then the Bucs traded Round 2, Pick 36 and Round 4, Pick 101 to the Denver Broncos for Round 1, Pick 31 and Round 4, Pick 126. Some may argue this move was unnecessary to get Running Back, Doug Martin, but it simply shows how much Tampa coveted his value and abilities. The Giants could potentially have been interested with the next pick at 32. Doug Martin gives the Bucs an instead 1-2 punch at Running Back. The icing on the cake for me was when the Bucs called the name of Nebraska’s Lavonte David in the second round. How did the Bucs manage this, too? They traded their Round 3, Pick 68 and Round 4, Pick 126 to the Houston Texans for Round 2, Pick 58 and Round 7, Pick 233.
The Buccaneers added six starters to a team that already has a core. Anytime you add six players of this caliber, the team will take on a new form, and results will probably show. I’m predicting the Bucs’ to go 9-7 this season, but will play many games down to the wire. Luckily the Panthers get to face off in Tampa Bay week 1 and there will be some kinks to work out early on. Expect the Panthers to start 1-0, and our rivals fall to 0-1.