COMMENTARY | While the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a big splash in 2012 by signing Pro Bowl free agents, Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, few expected similar lavish additions to the offense this year. Those expectations proved accurate, as the rebuilding club emphasized depth at affordable prices. Hoping to locate under-appreciated talent, Tampa Bay's offseason involved a combination of free agent signings, a trade, and even the surprising drafting of a quarterback.
Possessing last year's 13th rated unit, these moves demonstrate confidence in the direction of the offense. They further indicate the prudent belief that the squad's defense required substantially more help and fans now hope the additions of Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson make a significant impact. In contrast, though the overall makeup of the Bucs' offense will likely look similar, here are five additions for 2013.
Kevin Ogletree, WR
With Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams entrenched as Tampa Bay's one-two punch at wideout, the club instead pursued depth at the skill positions. The 25 year-old Ogletree was inked to a two year, $2.6 million contract in March and will be expected to assume the third wide receiver position. Ogletree made a strong impression with 8 receptions, 114 yards, and 2 touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys in the nationally televised opening game of the 2012 season.
The University of Virginia product plateaued quickly, however, as he failed to record a catch in four games and was limited to a single reception in five others. Ogletree's final numbers of 32 receptions, 436 yards, and 4 touchdowns were career highs, though they were also similar to what Tiquan Underwood posted for the Bucs. Nevertheless, the club believes he possesses the speed to blossom in its vertical offense and can be an improvement for the slot position.
Brian Leonard, RB
Though the burly back may remind fans of the great Mike Alstott, such comparisons are unfair, especially since Leonard has not accumulated a rushing touchdown in his seven year career. The 29 year-old additionally is not a natural blocker and unlikely to see time at fullback. Yet, his one year free agent contract is unsurprising, as coach Greg Schiano has demonstrated an affinity for former players and Leonard starred at Rutgers from 2003 to 2006, where he gained 32 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 rushing yards.
Selected by the St. Louis Rams in the second round of the 2007 draft, the New York native posted 303 yards as a rookie, but since struggled even to break 100 yards per season on the ground. Playing for the Cincinnati Bengals for the past four campaigns, Leonard achieved some success in the passing game, and has gained over 800 career receiving yards for a 7.2 per catch average. Leonard can play special teams and serve as a complimentary third down option, but must solidify his job with a strong preseason.
Tom Crabtree, TE
Grabbing 435 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns, the unsigned Dallas Clark accounted for nearly all of the Bucs' production at tight end in 2012. With the 34 year-old several campaigns removed from his best years under Peyton Manning, Tampa Bay decided to go in a different direction by inking the little-known Crabtree to a 2 year, $1.6 million contract. The reserve competed for the Green Bay Packers for three seasons and accumulated a career high 203 yards and 3 touchdowns last year.
Though the 27 year-old failed to touch the ball in 10 of 16 games, the Bucs believe he can mature as a pass catcher and will be an immediate upgrade in blocking from the brittle Clark. Aaron Rodgers connected with the Ohio native for lengthy catches of 48 and 72 yards in 2012, so perhaps the younger player adds a new element to Schiano's offense. Since third year tight end, Luke Stocker, has yet to demonstrate NFL ability, the team is taking a risk by placing faith in the equally unproven Crabtree.
Gabe Carimi, OT
Tampa Bay swapped a 2014 sixth round pick for this 6'7", 316 pound giant, who has already been labeled a disappointment by many. The winner of the 2010 Outland Trophy, which is given to college football's best lineman, was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 2011 draft. Carimi has since underachieved at tackle, suffered a knee injury requiring surgery, been shifted to guard, and eventually lost his spot entirely on Chicago's sub-par offensive line.
The Bucs hope the University of Wisconsin product benefits from a fresh start that reunites him with former position coach, Bob Bostad, who now guides Tampa Bay's offensive line. The club additionally re-signed last year's free agent find, Demar Dotson, to a modest 4 year, $4.5 million deal. The two will compete for playing time at right tackle, but Carimi further offers valuable depth, if the line again experiences the decimating injuries of 2012. Furthermore, if the Illinois native can turn things around in Tampa Bay, he could ultimately supplant the highly-paid Donald Penn at left tackle.
Mike Glennon, QB
With Josh Freeman entering the final year of his rookie contract, the surprising selection of Glennon in the third round of this spring's draft put the Bucs' quarterback on clear notice that he must improve in 2013. Following two stellar seasons leading North Carolina State's offense, Glennon impressively became just the third signal caller chosen in the 2013 draft. The 23 year-old has great size at 6'6", 230 pounds and actually compares favorably to Freeman. Both traditional-style quarterbacks possess big bodies and even stronger arms, prefer passing from the pocket, and require accuracy for overall success.
The Bucs carried only two quarterbacks in 2012, but Glennon must first shine in the preseason, if he is to assume the backup role last occupied by Dan Orlovsky. Schiano has emphasized that Freeman is the starter, but injury or inconsistency can both alter such declarations, and the presence of a highly-touted rookie certainly increases the pressure.
More by Jeff Briscoe from Yahoo! Contributor Network:
Jeff Briscoe is a writer who covers sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network . A loyal Tampa Bay Bucs fan, he co-hosts the Florida-based radio show, The Sports Train.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Vincent Jackson
- Kevin Ogletree
- Brian Leonard
- Green Bay Packers
- Tom Crabtree