NFL News: Tampa Bay Bucs
Bucs don’t have a lot going for them at 2-12, one strength the team could build off of next year is at wide receiver.
Both Vincent Jackson and the emerging Mike Evans are on pace to finish at over 1,000 receiving yards, a first in franchise history. The closest that ever happened before was in 2012 when Jackson finished with 1,384 receiving yards and Mike Williams finished with 996. With two games remaining this season, its very possible for Jackson and Evans to reach that milestone.
Jackson has been one of the most consistently productive players since his arrival to the team in 2012, catching for a combined 3,539 yards and 17 touchdowns. Currently Jackson has only scored two touchdowns for the season, his lowest since 2010 while with the San Diego Chargers when he scored three.
You can thank Evans for that being the primary scoring threat on the team scoring in 8 of his 13 games. However without his three game stretch from November 2-16 of 458 yards and five touchdowns, hed only have 490 yards and six touchdowns to show for it. Jackson didnt fare much better as he only broke 100 yards three times this season. Those three games, he combined for 420 receiving yards and no touchdowns.
The sad thing is Evans spot might be the only secure one left in this squad of receivers with Jacksons trade rumors often put his future in question. With the offseason looming and depth concerns across the board, the team may look to still unload his contract in hopes that Evans can move on without Jacksons presence.
Evans and Jackson account for 1,482 of the 3361 receiving yards this season. Take away the contributions from the backfield with Bobby Raineys 315, Charles Sims 154, and Doug Martins 64 yards and the two leading receivers account for more than half those yards.
What the Bucs need to do in the offseason is add, not subtract from what Evans and Jackson have. You can excuse Robert Herron for at least another year, but you need a solid slot receiver. Louis Murphy, the third leading receiver on the team, was cut previously during the year, accounts for 380 yards with less than half the catches Jackson with 31 for two scores.
The team will obviously not find the production theyll need from Chris Owusu (who was the initial starting receiver opposite Jackson) and Russell Shepard who combine for five catches for 73 yards.
Offensive line griping aside, there are some targets the Bucs can go after in the offseason provided they keep Jackson.
Wes Welker, 33, hasnt been living up to his contract with the Denver Broncos with injury issues and suspensions. The Bucs are no stranger to reclamation projects with Kellen Winslow Jr., Joey Galloway and Antonio Bryant, among others. Welker could be an interesting pick because his career is winding down and provided the Bucs can draft a quality mid-round receiver, they both can compete for the starting/slot receiver position pending Jacksons future with the team.
Welker, coming from a 2-year $12 million contract, might be on the outs with the team favoring the younger Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas for new contracts. Tampa could be Welkers ticket back to relevancy. He could also come cheap as he may be well aware about his diminishing stock. Welker would be a definite plus for the team with his experience having Tom Brady and Peyton Manning behind center as a way to break in a new quarterback should they draft a rookie quarterback to start.
Another name to this list is Jeremy Maclin from the Philadelphia Eagles. Maclin, 26, turned down a five-year deal from the team coming off a torn ACL injury in favor of a one-year deal for $5.25 million. With the teams decision to perhaps wait until the offseason, Maclin could potentially replace Jackson as far as star power is concerned (but lose out on Jacksons height) or he can be that third head receiving deep threat.
Welker would be more viable of the two to sign.
Two choices the Bucs can pick up provided they trade down for depth are Oklahomas Dorial Green-Beckham and Michigans Devin Funchess. Both physical specimens, according to CBS Sports, are projected to be taken in the first two rounds. Both are 6-foot-5, Green-Beckham is 225 and Funchess is 230. Green-Beckham has been compared to Cincinnati Bengals receiver A.J. Green, while Funchess has been compared to Jermichael Finley as a wide receiver/tight end mold. Funchess becomes a more attractive pick with Austin Seferian-Jenkins lackluster rookie season.
The Bucs could luck out and have either of them fall in the third round.