NFC South: Drake Dunsmore

Almost all of the offseason talk about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has focused on a defense that ranked No. 31 in the NFL last season. But there’s one huge need on the other side of the ball that hasn’t drawn a lot of talk.

The Bucs need a pass-catching tight end. All the other teams in the NFC South have one (Tony Gonzalez in Atlanta and Greg Olsen in Carolina) or two (Jimmy Graham and Benjamin Watson in New Orleans).

But the Bucs, who like to say one of their priorities is to surround quarterback Josh Freeman with talent, have a gaping hole at tight end.

They have not re-signed free agent Dallas Clark. They did add Tom Crabtree, but he never has caught more than eight passes in a season. Crabtree can compete with Luke Stocker, Nate Byham, Drake Dunsmore and Zach Miller for the role as the complementary tight end. But the Bucs need a pass catcher.

The problem is, there aren’t a lot of pass-catching tight ends left in free agency. Take a look at our Free-Agent Tracker. Clark is tied for the highest grade among the unsigned unrestricted free agents. And the guy he’s tied with is Kellen Winslow, who I highly doubt will be returning to Tampa Bay anytime soon.

The Bucs may have to bring back the aging Clark, who was decent last season, but not nearly as prolific as he was in his prime in Indianapolis. Unless some veteran gets released, there aren’t many other proven pass catchers on the market.

The draft features two premier tight ends in Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz. But it’s hard to imagine the Bucs using the 13th overall pick on a tight end when they have such big needs on defense.

Maybe the Bucs will draft a tight end after the first round. Or maybe they’ll find one somewhere else in free agency.

But the Bucs have to find a pass-catching tight end for Freeman somewhere.

Bucs bring back DT Wallace Gilberry

September, 3, 2012
Defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry, who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday is back with the team.

The Bucs just announced they have re-signed Gilberry and waived guard Julian Vandervelde. That makes me feel a bit better about Tampa Bay’s depth at defensive tackle. Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller, who each have had injury problems in the past, are the starters and Gary Gibson was the only other true defensive tackle on the roster. Gilberry has some solid NFL experience after spending the past four seasons in Kansas City.

The Bucs also announced they have released guard Brian Folkers from the practice squad and replaced him by signing offensive tackle Bradley Sowell to the practice squad. Sowell joins linebacker Jacob Cutrera, tight end Drake Dunsmore, wide receiver Dale Moss, wide receiver Bert Reed, linebacker J.K. Schaffer, quarterback Adam Weber and defensive end Markus White on the practice squad.
I just got a look at contract numbers for most of the deals that have been signed so far by NFC South draft picks. Let’s take a run through them.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was taken ninth in the first round, got a four-year deal worth $12.6 million with a $7.6 million signing bonus.

From the second round, Carolina offensive lineman Amini Silatolu got a four-year deal worth $4.9 million that includes a $2 million signing bonus. Atlanta offensive lineman Peter Konz got a four-year deal worth $3.6 million, including a $1.1 million signing bonus.

From the fourth round, Carolina defensive tackle Frank Alexander got a four-year deal worth $2.6 million, including a $470,252 signing bonus, and Carolina receiver Joe Adams got a four-year deal worth $2.6 million with a $467,552 signing bonus.

Defensive back Josh Norman, a fifth-round pick by Carolina, got a four-year deal worth $2.3 million, including a $199,000 signing bonus. Carolina punter Brad Nortman, a sixth-round pick, got a four-year deal worth $2.2 million, including a $78,680 signing bonus.

From the seventh round, Tampa Bay running back Michael Smith’s deal is worth $2.2 million with a $65,148 signing bonus. Also, Carolina defensive back D.J. Campbell got a deal worth $2.2 million with a $62,248 signing bonus, Tampa Bay tight end Drake Dunsmore’s deal is worth $2.1 million and includes a $49,000 signing bonus and Atlanta defensive tackle Travian Robertson’s contract is worth $2.1 million with a $45,896 signing bonus.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed a pair of draft picks Monday afternoon.

The team announced that fifth-round pick Najee Goode and sixth-round pick Keith Tandy each signed four-year contracts.

Goode, a linebacker, and Tandy, a defensive back, were college teammates at West Virginia.

The Bucs previously signed seventh-round picks Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore. Tampa Bay has only three unsigned draft picks -- first-round choices Mark Barron and Doug Martin and second-round choice Lavonte David.

NFC South links: Sean Weatherspoon's role

May, 8, 2012
Atlanta Falcons

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Sean Weatherspoon will be the focal point of Mike Nolan’s defense. Weatherspoon: “I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be doing all of the time. I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge. I think I’m ready for that, to do a little bit more and step out there and do some different things. I look forward to the challenge. I think it’s going to be fun.”

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers added more depth to their special teams by signing veteran punter Nick Harris to a one-year deal.

New Orleans Saints

Interim New Orleans coach Joe Vitt denies the allegations made by Anthony Hargrove about the bounty scandal.

John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune on Hargrove: "[I]t's impossible not to feel sympathy for the former Saints defensive lineman who was suspended for his role in the bounty program, and for lying to the league in 2010 about the program's existence."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Former Rutgers receiver Tiquan Underwood reunites with his former coach Greg Schiano in Tampa Bay, writes Rick Stroud in the Tampa Bay Times.

Seventh-round draft picks Michael Smith and Drake Dunsmore made the roster as the Bucs signed 13 other rookies at the end of rookie camp.