Despite all of their impressive off-season moves, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some glaring needs heading into the 2013 NFL season, maybe the most obvious of them being the pass rush. They have lost Michael Bennett to the Seattle Seahawks, and their projected starters, Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, aren’t exactly proven stalwarts, both coming off injuries. The optoin of going after still available Dwight Freeney and John Abraham seems a little bit more intriguing by the minute.
The Bucs took care of their secondary needs first in this off-season. They added Darrelle Revis from the New York Jets, hoping his recovers well from his ACL tear and justifies the huge contract handed out to him, making him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Pairing up with Eric Wright should give the Buccaneers a formidable defensive back duo.
They’ve also taken Johnathan Banks out of Mississippi State with their second round pick, hoping he can slowly become more than just someone they use in nickel and dime packages. They also addressed their pass-rush situation (ranked 29th in the NFL with only 27 sacks last season) by picking taking William Gholston, a defensive end out of Michigan State with their fourth round pick, and Steven Means, outside linebacker/DE out of Buffalo with their fifth round pick.
However, these aren’t immediate solutions. For now, Clayborn and Bowers are the projected starters around the edges. Clayborn had a very good start to his career with 7.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but was limited to only three games last season due to a knee injury. Bowers has been less impressive in his two NFL seasons, with only 4.5 career sacks so far. He tore his Achilles tendon last year and missed the beginning of the 2012 NFL season.
Teams are back on the trail of both Abraham and Freeney. The defensive ends have realized that they’re not going to get the kind of money or playing time, each with his own demands, they were initially looking for. Teams are going to make cuts and both players have still a season or two of productive quarterback chasing in them. Teams like the Bucs, with the cap space for short terms fixes like this available, might make good use with any one of them, even if it’s for a shared role at the position instead of a full-time job.