After the Seattle Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII, all 32 teams officially entered the offseason and started plotting how they could position themselves for a shot at Super Bowl XLIX. Shutdown Corner will look at the offseason blueprint for each of the 32 NFL teams, presenting one team a day (using the 2014 draft order, starting with the Houston Texans and finishing with the Seahawks), leading you right up to the start of free agency on March 11.
2013 record: 4-12
Projected current salary-cap space (according to Spotrac): $12.6 million
Key free agents: LB Jonathan Casillas, LB Adam Hayward, WR Tiquan Underwood
Possible salary-cap casualties:G Davin Joseph, T Donald Penn
Draft situation: Have seventh overall pick, own all of their picks except sixth rounder
Revisiting 2013: I know Bucs fans would rather just skip this section, but let's take a trip down bad memory lane. Tampa Bay started 0-8, an inexcusable feat given its talent. There were the MRSA and Josh Freeman controversies. Freeman was cut, Mike Glennon took over as quarterback and played OK for a rookie. Doug Martin got hurt, but Bobby Rainey had some solid moments at running back. The team went 4-4 in the second half, and the best part is it wasn't good enough to save Greg Schiano's job. Had the organization felt the need to keep him around based on a decent finish it would have been ruinous to the great promise Tampa Bay has in 2014.
Reasons for optimism: Horribly coached team with a ton of talent has a terrible record, changes coaches and goes to the playoffs ... 2013 Chiefs or 2014 Buccaneers? It's really easy to see Tampa Bay's talent. Darrelle Revis, Lavonte David and Gerald McCoy are blue-chip players at each level of the defense, and that's not even mentioning great complementary talent like safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, linebacker Mason Foster, cornerback Johnthan Banks and defensive end Adrian Clayborn. Offensively, Glennon looked just fine after being pressed into action, Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams are good receivers and Martin will return from injury. They have no crucial free agents to re-sign. New coach Lovie Smith stepped into a really good situation.
Glaring hole to fill: The offensive line needs some work. Guard Carl Nicks' return to health after his MRSA issues would be great. Fellow guard Davin Joseph is coming off a bad year and will either have to restructure his contract or be cut. Left tackle Donald Penn is also aging. The team has the seventh pick in the draft, and with a lot of quarterback-needy teams picking before them, it seems inevitable that a quality tackle will be available when they go on the clock. It would be hard to pass on someone like Texas A&M's Jake Matthews if he's there.
Toughest decision: Their tough decision isn't tough at all, but they seem to be making it that way. There have been grumblings that the new regime isn't totally sold on Glennon at quarterback. Maybe over time Glennon will show that he's not a starting-caliber quarterback, but it's way too soon to make that decision now.
The team invested a third-round pick in Glennon last year, put him in before he was ready and he responded with 19 touchdowns, nine interceptions and an 83.9 rating. They ran different offenses, but Andrew Luck had just a 76.5 rating as a rookie. Ryan Tannehill was only 81.7 this past year, his second season. This isn't to say Glennon is Luck (he's certainly not) or even Tannehill, but considering starting over at quarterback after what Glennon did last year as a rookie would be absolutely foolish. He deserves at least another year to show if he can be the team's answer at quarterback, and there haven't been any signs yet that he can't. Starting over just to start over is rarely a good strategy, and it's definitely not in this case.
Best-case offseason scenario: With no priority free agents to retain and a decent amount of cap room, the Buccaneers can add some pieces. Or, maybe they could add one big piece like Carolina end Greg Hardy. Imagine the Bucs' defense with Hardy on board. If the Buccaneers don't panic on Glennon, make the right draft move at No. 7 – if not Matthews then maybe another defender like UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr – and grab a few key free agents, look out for Tampa Bay this season.
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