Should The Bucs Sign WR Jones?

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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds solutions your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account every week within the Bucs Monday Mailbag. Submit your query to the Bucs Monday Mailbag every week through Twitter utilizing the hashtag #PRMailbag. Listed below are the questions we selected to reply for this week’s version.

QUESTION: Ought to the Bucs signal huge receiver Julio Jones? Might he assist change Chris Godwin if he’s not able to go in Week 1?

ANSWER: Pewter Report’s J.C. Allen addressed this to a level over the weekend in a story on Julio Jones on PewterReport.com. I feel there are 4 large points with Jones doubtlessly signing with the Bucs – age, damage, function and wage.

The primary is his age. Jones is 33 years outdated and is coming off his worst season statistically. After Tennessee acquired him in a commerce with Atlanta, Jones had 31 catches for 434 yards and one landing. When he was wholesome, he was a great complementary receiver to A.J. Brown. The truth that he nonetheless averaged 14 yards per catch was considerably encouraging. However Jones missed seven video games because of a recurring hamstring damage.

That’s the second largest concern. Jones has missed a complete of 13 video games with hamstring accidents over the previous two seasons. He missed six video games with the Falcons in 2020 and 7 final 12 months with the Titans. Jones hardly practiced in any respect final 12 months. I requested long-time Titans reporter Terry McCormick for his evaluation of Jones’ play in 2021.

Former Falcons WR Julio Jones Bucs

Former Falcons WR Julio Jones – Picture by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

“At this stage, he’s in all probability a job participant – a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver,” McCormick mentioned. “He can nonetheless catch the ball in site visitors and even make the spectacular catch. He’s not as quick anymore, so the YAC (yards after catch) may not be there. The largest difficulty with Jones now’s his well being. His hamstring has plagued him for 2 years now. In a restricted function, he might be efficient, however I wouldn’t count on a 70-catch season from him simply due to damage points.”

At age 33 and given his stature within the league, Jones couldn’t be counted on to contribute on particular groups. So, if the Bucs did signal him, it might be much like the signing of Antonio Brown. However that implies that the highest 4 receivers on the depth chart – Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Jones – wouldn’t play on particular groups. When Godwin returns to the lineup, whether or not it’s the primary week of the season or shortly thereafter, would Jones and his ego thoughts a diminished function? He can be WR4 on this scenario.

Jones is solely not the Buc-killer he was in his 20s with the Falcons. He had one 100-yard sport final 12 months in Tennessee, and that got here in Week 2 in opposition to Seattle. He didn’t rating his lone landing of the season till Week 18 in opposition to Houston. Jones’ abilities have diminished. But, he’s a big-bodied receiver at 6-foot-3, 220 kilos and has expertise taking part in within the slot. He may assist there in Godwin’s absence.

“He may do some issues within the slot, in addition to outdoors,” McCormick mentioned. “His route working was adequate for the slot, in addition to outdoors. For little bursts, he was excellent and nonetheless explosive, however simply couldn’t do it as constantly as they wanted him to for the cash they had been paying. Titans by no means complained about him as a run blocker. He did okay at it, however A.J. Brown and Nick Westbrook had been each higher at run blocking than Julio was.”

So, what’s the 33-year outdated Jones now value? He can be a job participant in Tampa Bay and definitely not definitely worth the $11.513 million that the Titans paid him final 12 months. Not even shut. It must be a contract much like what the Bucs paid Antonio Brown – possible round $2 million for the possibility to catch passes from Tom Brady and win a Tremendous Bowl ring. Is that adequate for Jones? There doesn’t appear to be loads of demand for him proper now. He stays an possibility for the Bucs at huge receiver.

QUESTION: I used to be rooting for James Bradberry and Melvin Ingram as free agent signings to go “all in” on Tom Brady’s final 12 months. It labored for us two years in the past and labored for the Rams final 12 months. However this 12 months seems like we’re in, however with an eye fixed on the longer term with our cap. Who else can we get to go all-in?

ANSWER: The excellent news is that we’re nonetheless two months away from the start of coaching camp and over three months away from the beginning of the season. I’ll remind you that Bucs basic supervisor Jason Licht has made some key late additions earlier than. In 2014, Licht claimed defensive finish Jacquies Smith off waivers earlier than Week 1 and he grew to become an prompt starter for the Bucs. He had 13.5 sacks in two seasons earlier than a torn ACL in Week 1 ended his 2016 early and disrupted his profession. He was by no means the identical participant once more.

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib

Bucs OLB Carl Nassib – Picture by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht did the identical factor in 2018 with Carl Nassib. He claimed the sting rusher off waivers from Cleveland and Nassib wound up being a part-time starter for the Bucs. He logged six sacks his first season as a defensive finish, and 6.5 sacks as an outdoor linebacker when Todd Bowles arrived in 2019. I wouldn’t be shocked if Nassib is on the Bucs’ brief record at outdoors linebacker given his expertise within the scheme.

Working again Leonard Fournette was signed earlier than the 2020 season began and “Playoff Lenny” was instrumental in serving to the Bucs win Tremendous Bowl LV. That was a significant “all in” signing for the Bucs. So, there have been a number of cases the place Licht has added gamers who wound up as starters proper earlier than the season began.

Tampa Bay has additionally added key gamers through the season, too. In 2015, Licht signed middle Joe Hawley on Sept. 14. He would step in because the starter for the injured Evan Dietrich-Smith. Then, he was signed to a two-year contract extension to be the Bucs’ starter. Licht additionally traded for defensive sort out Steve McLendon when Vita Vea went down with an damage early in 2020.

And naturally, the Bucs additionally signed huge receiver Antonio Brown in November 2020. That was one other “all in” addition by Licht, evidenced by Brown’s key landing at Washington within the playoffs. And there was his TD catch proper earlier than halftime in Tremendous Bowl LV.

The Bucs’ roster is just not finalized for 2022 but. And there’s loads of time for Licht so as to add a couple of extra key items – and loads of free brokers obtainable. Signing one other edge rusher and defensive sort out looks like a should. Including one other receiver and/or a decent finish additionally appears possible.

QUESTION: Is the truth that the Bucs are signing extra tight ends once more a sign that they know Rob Gronkowski is just not coming again?

ANSWER: The Bucs did signal undrafted free agent tryout participant J.J. Howland after the rookie mini-camp. The Yale tight finish caught every part that weekend and is one among 4 rookie tight ends on the roster. The Bucs drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft, then signed Ben Beise after the draft earlier than including Howland. Do these signings have something to do with Rob Gronkowski? In fact they do. But it surely doesn’t imply that Gronk gained’t return.

Bucs TE Cade Otton

Bucs TE Cade Otton – Picture by: Cliff Welch/PR

In fact, the Bucs hope that Gronkowski will re-sign to Tampa Bay for a 3rd season. However the staff has to safeguard in opposition to the truth that he may retire. It’s a little bit perilous simply driving into the season with Cameron Brate because the lone veteran. So, if Gronk does retire, I may see the Bucs signing one other skilled tight finish.

Brate will likely be 31 in July and Gronkowski simply turned 33. Beginning a youth motion on the tight finish spot is crucial proper now for the way forward for the place. Getting a have a look at these younger tight ends – even the undrafted free brokers – in OTAs, mini-camp and coaching camp may assist the Bucs put together for all times after Gronkowski and Brate. And so they could uncover a gem like they did with Brate again in 2014.

If Gronkowski does return to the Bucs, the four-deep chart will possible include Gronk, Brate, Otton and Kieft. If Beise and/or Howland impress greater than Codey McElroy, one or each might be placed on the observe squad to develop.

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