Offseason Forecast: Tampa Bay Buccaneers


With the offseason officially underway, Around The NFL will examine what's next for all 32 teams. The series continues with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What's changing?

After watching Dirk Koetter put 56 points on his defense in Week 3 of last season, Lovie Smith hired the former Falcons coordinator to run the Buccaneers' offense. Koetter's track record with David Garrard and Matt Ryan suggests he's an excellent tutor if Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota ends up being selected at No. 1 overall. This is a major upgrade on the inexperienced Marcus Arroyo, who was forced into the coordinator role when Jeff Tedford developed a heart condition last September.

With the offseason underway, Around The NFL explores what's next for all 32 teams.

AFC East:
AFC North:
AFC South:
AFC West:
NFC East:
NFC North:
NFC South:
NFC West:

Two January question marks have already been answered. The Bucs dumped 2014 starting quarterback Josh McCown, leaving Mike Glennon atop the depth chart. General manager Jason Licht has also assured that wide receiver Vincent Jackon, thought to be a candidate for a restructure or even release, will remain on the roster.

Biggest free agents

» DE Adrian Clayborn: The No. 20 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft ended up playing just 36 games in four years with the Bucs. He missed all but one game last season with a torn biceps. Even when healthy, Clayborn has been one of the league's least effective pass rushers.

» DE Da'Quan Bowers: Oft injured and once suspended, Bowers has been a bust since entering the 2011 draftnik season as a candidate to go off the board at No. 1 overall. He was in danger of getting released last summer, as the current regime has nothing invested in his career.

» LB Mason Foster: Foster's questionable coverage skills aren't a good match for Smith's Cover 2 defense. He could be a match for Atlanta, as he excelled as a run stuffer under new Falcons assistant head coach Raheem Morris a few years back.

Other key free agents: Mike Jenkins, Major Wright, Lawrence Sidbury

On the way out?

» S Dashon Goldson: The Bucs benched Goldson last November, less than two years into a five-year, $41.25 million contract. A liability in coverage at age 30, Goldson is no longer worthy of a $7.5 million salary.

» DE Michael Johnson: There have been whispers that the Buccaneers will cut Johnson one year after handing him $16 million in guarantees. That number will escalate to $23 million if he's still on the roster by the third day of the league year in March. Johnson has totaled just 7.5 sacks over the past years after recording 11.5 in a breakout 2012 season.

» QB Mike Glennon: Smokescreen alert: After refusing to play Glennon over Josh McCown last season, Smith now insists the former can be a franchise quarterback. If the Bucs decide to go with Winston or Mariota, Glennon could become the most intriguing quarterback on the market.

» P Mike Koenen: Koenen has been one of the highest paid and least effective punters over the past two years. He's not worth $3.25 million.

What they need

The offensive line was the NFL's worst last season. Left tackle Anthony Collins turned out to be a free agent bust, leading to talk that he is best suited to guard. The backfield picture is just as bleak, as Doug Martin and rookie Charles Sims were outplayed by journeyman Bobby Rainey. The biggest need on defense is edge rusher, especially if the Bucs decide to cut bait on Johnson.

Offseason crystal ball

All of Licht's swings and misses in free agency a year ago won't dissuade him from swinging for the fences again this offseason. If Winston is selected at the top of the draft, as many expect, Licht will have to turn to free agency to address the offensive and defensive lines. Unfortunately, there are no impact left tackles on the market. The best 4-3 defensive end to hit the market will be Greg Hardy, whose 2015 status remains up in the air.

Because Licht and Smith failed to adequately address positions of deficiency last year, this roster has too many holes to catapult into contention for the division title in 2015.

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