Duke Johnson Isn’t the Acquisition Tampa Needs.
There’s been quite the rumor mill swirling about a possible trade between the Buccaneers and Cleveland Browns for RB Duke Johnson. But, why? Tampa already has a solid back in Peyton Barber, and practically new-with-tags Ronald Jones after only seeing 23 rushes in his rookie season. Tampa also signed ex-Cardinal Andre Ellington to serve as the third down pass-catching back. So why would Tampa need to waste a draft pick for another back?
What Tampa could do, however, and improve their team this way, is trade or sign another offensive lineman.
In 2018, the Bucs offensive line left much to be imagined as the right side struggled tremendously and it’s weakest link, an out of position Caleb Benenoch, struggled to find his footing as a right guard when he’s a natural Tackle.
Benenoch (thankfully) will no longer start at RG and is being moved back to his natural position at tackle, behind an aging Demar Dotson.
Earl Watford is now the favorite to start week one at RG and has worked in an Arians Offense before, but only started 21 of his 56 games played, Zero of those 21 were in 2018. More of a possible “Red Flag” is that he has never played a full 16 game season.
Tampa’s offensive line will be key to their success this season, as Arians has already stated he wants to put up at least 30 points a game and his scheme will utilize the Bucs arsenal of offensive weapons which include star wide receiver Mike Evans, breakout-ready Chris Godwin, and a pair of 6’5 tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cam Brate with hands like glue.
The Bucs already have a solid foundation to their line, thanks to diamond-in-the-D3 Ali Marpet, who has silently turned into a top 10 lineman in the NFL. To his right, there’s the meanest guard you’ll meet in Ryan Jensen, whose motor and attitude to the whistle makes him a big key to the future of Tampa’s running game. Last season, Jensen could be found well out in front trying to provide lanes for Barber every single play. To Marpet’s left, is streaky, but solid, Donovan Smith who struggled heavily last season to protect James’s’ blindside and was criticized for seemingly “taking off plays” and being “lazy”. Tampa resigned him to a 3-year $41.5 million dollar deal, and will be motivated to prove he’s worth the payday.
However, the right side of the offensive line has raised some eyebrows over the last two years, and has garnered even more attention after Tampa did not use one of their seven draft picks to address the line. While it wasn’t addressed in the 2019 draft, the Bucs did make efforts to sure up the line, by drafting another D3 lineman in Alex Cappa who had some of the most aggressive tape the league has ever seen. While his tape was impressive, he’s hardly seen the field and has been deemed, as of this time, to not “be where he needs to be” as far as development. This puts Tampa in a danger equivalent to facing a boss in a game with half health. One injury could mean sending out a player who’s not ready to be a in a starting role. That’s where a trade before the pads are put on comes in.
Trent Willams, T, Washington Redskins:
Williams made breaking news when he spoke out against the Redskins and it’s medical team after a health scare regarding a spot on his scalp that was thought to be cancer but thankfully came back negative. Williams stated he was very unhappy with how it was handled and how long it took to be handled and would like to be traded, and has since skipped all practices. The biggest problem here would be Williams contract, as he’s due $11 million in 2019, but would add another veteran.
The Bucs could also add lineman that are still free agents.
Donald Penn- Reunion, anyone? Penn played with Tampa previously and then had a falling out with the team, but could come back to finish his career. Penn has started all but four of his 178 career games and was a cornerstone for Tampa’s Line from 2007-2013.
Ryan Schraeder- Started 13 games In 2018, and 73 out of a career 88 games. He’s been in Atlanta his entire career and could give some insight to the Birds offensive line as well as be an instant plug-and-play player who can play both RT and Tackle