Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

All right, after getting through mailbags for the Saints and Falcons, it's time to get back to the NFC South's favorite topic.

That's Jay Cutler and that means it's time for a mailbag on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hundreds of you are asking about the possibility of the Bucs trading for the Denver quarterback.

Let's start by saying there are no definite indications that the Bucs and Broncos are even talking at this point. But they did discuss a deal back at the start of free agency and that leaves plenty of room for speculation as the sparks continue to fly between Cutler and the Broncos.

Again, there's no way to answer all of your great questions, so I'll choose a few that seem to represent what's on a majority of minds. I'll put the Cutler questions first and, then, move on to a few other matters.

Brian in Rochester, N.Y., writes: What are the chances the Bucs actually land Cutler??

Pat Yasinskas: Your question pretty well summarize a lot of questions. Again, nobody knows exactly how the Jay Cutler scenario is going to play out in Denver. But you're asking for my opinion and speculation. I'm going to say the same thing to all of you that I just said to my good friend and renowned Tampa singer/guitarist and Bucs fan Johnny G. Lyon. He was on his way to set up for his Saint Patrick's gig with JGLB, but called to ask if there was anything new on Cutler. No new developments, but if Cutler truly is on the market, I think the Bucs HAVE to go out and get him. It just makes sense on a lot of levels. First, Cutler's a downfield thrower and coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski wants a passing game that can go downfield. Second, the Bucs are pretty well set up with the rest of their offense. You can make a case that all the Bucs need is a quarterback. Third, and don't overlook this one, the Bucs could use a splash. After getting rid of Jon Gruden and Derrick Brooks, the Bucs don't exactly have a lot of star power. Ownership is aware of that and ownership here likes star power. This wouldn't be quite as big as going after Brett Favre last summer -- on the surface. But, in the long run, a trade for Cutler could be even bigger for the Bucs. Cutler has some star power. He also has lots of ability and he's 25. There's room for him to build that star power with the Bucs.


Mikey in Iraq writes: Pat, Bucs fan here. Ive been deployed over in Iraq, and dont get much information. Was wondering if Tampa, does go after cutler, what is it that tampa has to work with besides Draft Picks?

Pat Yasinskas: Well, the draft picks are the most important thing. I'm just guessing here that it would take a first-round pick and one other choice to get Cutler, if the Broncos do trade him. An existing player could be part of a deal, but I don't see that as being a huge priority. The one thing that might coax the Broncos would be a quarterback to replace Cutler. I don't see Brian Griese returning to Denver as something the Broncos would be interested in, so I think it will come down to draft picks.


Paul in Houston, Texas, writes: Pat, I've been wondering alot about what the Glazers have been thinking sticking Raheem Morris in the 'line of fire' regarding his new job as head coach of the Bucs. Its my thinking only but do you think as well that if he doesn't perform very well in his first year that the ownership could opt to release him and bring in the likes of Bill Cowher or Mike Shannahan when they return to coaching in 2010?

Pat Yasinskas: Possible. But I think the Glazers are thinking Raheem Morris can do very well in his first year. That's why they hired him. They're following a leaguewide trend of going with young coaches. There's a reason for that trend. It's guys like Atlanta's Mike Smith and Baltimore's John Harbaugh, who took their teams to the playoffs in their first season as head coaches. Morris was going to be a head coach somewhere before too long. Maybe the Glazers sped up that process a bit, but they've seen a lot of assistant coaches come through their system (Lovie Smith, Herm Edwards and Mike Tomlin to name a few) and go on to have success elsewhere. Makes sense. But it also makes sense that if young head coaches don't continue to have success, you could see a trend back to recycling former head coaches.


Felix in parts unknown writes: Hey pat, I'm curious on who is going to be the starting corner opposite of Aqib Talib?

Pat Yasinskas: At the moment, it's Ronde Barber, but I think that's far from being set in stone. Barber survived the purge of old guys and that's a sign that Morris, who was the secondary coach last season, believes he has something left. But the Bucs have entertained a fair amount of free-agent cornerbacks. They haven't landed any, but that tells me they're looking for options. I think Barber could end up as the nickelback. The Bucs could draft someone like Malcolm Jenkins or Vontae Davis and use Barber to help ease the transition or they still could sign a free agent with some experience.


Rio in Tampa writes: What are we going to do about our defensive tackle situation? Do we have a solution in house or is it our main draft concern?

Pat Yasinskas: I don't think it would be a stretch to say defensive tackle is a huge concern. Jovan Haye left through free agency, Chris Hovan's not getting any younger and Jimmy Wilkerson is a nice backup who can swing between end and tackle. New coordinator Jim Bates likes bigger defensive tackles. I still think the Bucs are looking hard at this area in free agency and may have a solution before long. But, if that doesn't happen, defensive tackle could be a top priority on draft day.