Derrick Ward, one of the top Running Backs in the free agent market, signed a four-year deal with Tampa Bay worth $17 million.  He was part of a three-headed monster in New York with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.  Brandon Jacob’s role will remain the same, and Ahmad Bradshaw will take over Ward’s role as the Giants will likely move to a two-headed monster.

Meanwhile, in Tampa the signing signifies the end of Earnest Graham’s hold on the starting job.  He’ll still get plenty of carries, and will probably be the short-yardage back meaning he could vulture some TDs.  Cadillac Williams’ value takes a hit, but at this point you can hardly afford to gamble on him any more than the Bucs.  Ward should see a small boost in production as he moves to a feature back role.  As I said, Graham will get plenty of carries so temper your expectations.

The Bucs collapsed last year costing Jon Gruden his job.  His voice may have grown old with the players.  Raheem Morris is a new voice, and by all accounts is respected by the team.  Jeff Garcia will mostly likely not be back with the Bucs next year.  Luke McCown was re-signed and will be given the opportunity to compete with Brian Griese to win the starting gig.  Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn, and Cadillac Williams (if he’s healthy) form a nice RB trio, but they’d be wise to add a young runner.  Antonio Bryant had a breakout year and is their top priority this offseason.  They put the franchise tag on him, and will likely work out a long-term deal.  Michael Clayton is also a Free Agent, but he has yet to match his impressive Rookie Season.  After disappointing for four years, I see no reason why he’d be back.  The Bucs should add some youth at WR this offseason.  Jerramy Stevens is a Free Agent, but with Alex Smith and John Gilmore under contract, I don’t see the Bucs going after Stevens hard to re-sign.  Left Tackle Donald Penn is a Restricted Free Agent.  I don’t see him going anywhere.

Defensively, Defensive Lineman Kevin Carter and Jovan Haye and Defensive Backs Phillip Buchanon and Jermaine Phillips are Free Agents.  The Bucs are likely to go away from the Tampa 2 so there could be a lot of changes on Defense this year.  The Bucs will bring in guys who fit their new philopshy.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
QB Bruce Eugene RFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
QB Jeff Garcia UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
QB Luke McCown Re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FB Byron Storer RFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
WR Antonio Bryant UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
WR Michael Clayton UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
WR Cortez Hankton UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
TE Jason Pociask Re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
TE Jerramy Stevens UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
OT Anthony Davis UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
OT Donald Penn RFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
OT Julius Wilson Re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DL Kevin Carter UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
DL Jovan Haye UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
DL Dre Moore Re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DL Ryan Sims UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
LB Sam Olajubutu RFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
CB Kyle Arrington Re-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Phillip Buchanon UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
SS Jermaine Phillips UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent
FS Will Allen UFA Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agent

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Preview

1 September 2008

 

The Bucs are coming off a 9-7 that saw them win the NFC South. They were pretty quiet this offseason, with the exception of being a player in the #4 saga.

Offensively they are pretty old.  Jeff ”Cherry” Garcia is 38.  Joey Galloway will turn 37 this November.  Ike Hilliard is 32.  Michael Clayton sucks.  Oops, how did that slip in there.  That’s your passing attack.  Some old heads and some scraps.  Antonio Bryant came over from San Francisco, and he could provide a boost to their passing game.  Their ground game will again be led by overachieving Earnest Graham.  He took advantage of a break last year to rack up over 1200 total yards and 10 TDs.  Not too shabby if I say so myself.  The Bucs brought Warrick Dunn, who’s 33, to share the load.  Michael Bennett will probably get worked into the mix as well.  Alex Smith showed some promise at Tight End.

Their Defense is anchored by Derrick Brooks, imagine that.  He put together a 109 tackle season.  Barrett Ruud (114 tackles) and Cato June helped round out a solid Linebacking corps.  Jermaine Phillips (83 tackles, 4 picks) was a solid contributor at Strong Safety.  Phillip Buchanon and Ronde Barber round out a stellar secondary.  Greg White, Jovan Haye, and Gaines Adams provided a nice pass rush.  I expect even bigger things for Adams in his Sophomore year.

Cherry Garcia does just enough to pick up victories.  He doesn’t turn the ball over and let’s his strong Defense go to work for him.  That combo will be enough for the Bucs to pick up another nine or ten wins this year.   They will make the Wildcard and be immediately shown the door.  At least they are getting invited to the dance.

Fantasy-wise Tampa has little to offer.  Garcia is only good during the bye week of your starting QB.  If you’re going to roll with him make sure he has a nice matchup that week.  Earnest Graham has great potential if he can prove last year wasn’t a fluke.  Joey Galloway is the weapon you’ll want in the passing game.  I won’t endorse Antonio Bryant fully, but he is worth considering. 

 

We’ve done the Big Dog RBs, Second Tier RBs, and Third Tier RBs, now it’s time to look at the next wave of RBs.  We’re getting into #2 RBs if you have stacked your team elsewhere and/or your bench RBs.

LenDale White - LenDale silenced his critics last year by running for 1110 yards and 7 TDs.  He had either a TD or 100 yards in six games during a seven-game stretch last year.  Then he ran for 81 yards combined the next three weeks before four straight weeks of 95+ yards or a TD.  That middle stretch is what keeps him out of the third tier.

Reggie Bush- I think the best thing that can happen for Reggie Bush and New Orleans is for Deuce McAllister to return healthy.  The 1-2 punch was ideal for Bush and the Saints.  Bush doesn’t have to pound it between the tackles so frequently.  He is free to be able to get to the outside as well as become a bigger factor in the passing game. 

Thomas Jones – The Jets made some nice moves in the offseason, mainly to improve their Offensive Line.  The acquisitions of Alan Faneca and Damien Woody (along with FB Tony Richardson) should open the running lanes for Jones.  He had a decent amount of yards last year (1119 rushing, 1336 total), but needs to score more than 2 TDs.

Michael Turner – I hesitate to put him in a higher bracket because he doesn’t have a track record to prove he can hold up to a full load.  He’s also going to a team that will likely be behind in most games, and may have to abandon the run.  It’s also unclear if he was a product of the system (San Diego) or if he can bring his explosiveness to Atlanta.  Oh, and he was mainly used after LT wore the defenses down.  How is he going to do against a fresh defensive unit?  These are the questions I have, and the reason he lands in the 4th tier.  That said, he is worth taking a chance on as your 3rd RB.

Earnest Graham – Tampa’s Earnest Graham falls into the category of RBs I don’t quite trust.  He was a great story last year running for 898 yards (1222 total) and 10 TDs.  I’m just afraid the fluke factor is high for him.  Not to mention the acquisition of Warrick Dunn could cut into his digits.  If Cadillac Williams makes a successful return, Tampa’s backfield is further muddied.

Julius Jones – The Seahawks parted ways with Shaun Alexander and have tabbed JJ as their replacement.  He has the ability, but hasn’t really been a force since his shortened rookie season in 2004.  Since then he hasn’t been much of a TD threat.  We’ll see how he’s used in Seattle, who also has Maurice Morris and T.J. Duckett. 

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