Charles Krupa/Associated Press
Out with the Old Guard, in with the New
Due to their glaring need at the guard position, the Bucs brought in embattled former Dolphin Richie Incognito for a visit on Monday. But that wasn't the big move the team would make to fill the void, turning around on Tuesday and trading for six-time Pro Bowler Logan Mankins from the Patriots.
Head coach Lovie Smith thinks the 32-year-old former first-rounder is just what the doctor ordered, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times:
He has a history of a certain type of play in the league. Most people say Logan Mankins—tough football player, real man, everybody loves him, great guy in your locker room...exactly what we need on our football team and of course in the offensive line room.
The Bucs sent tight end Tim Wright and a fourth-round pick in next year's draft to New England, which is a small price to pay for shoring up their biggest area of need with a veteran who has tons of experience playing at a high level in the NFL.
The Bucs could be without their offensive coordinator Thursday, as Jeff Tedford underwent an unspecified medical procedure on Monday. Smith said his play-caller is resting comfortably, but the rest of the offensive staff might have to pick up the slack, per The Tampa Tribune's Ira Kaufman:
He’s resting comfortably and he’ll be out for a short period of time. Things should be OK. Our offensive staff will come together and (handle Tedford's duties). We have a coordinator, yes. From there, there’s always a backup plan. Everything keeps going.
There's no reason to rush Tedford back for this game, and it could be an opportunity to practice such a contingency plan. Here's hoping the Bucs' offensive guru makes a full recovery and can be ready to go for Week 1.
What Could Have Been
Many Bucs fans expected the team to address its need at guard early in the 2014 draft, but the team selected offensive skill players with its first three picks instead. Without a fourth-rounder, Tampa Bay waited until the fifth round to grab Tennessee State's Kadeem Edwards, who will need some time before he's ready to start at the NFL level.
As ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas points out, the Bucs could have taken a number of quality guards with their pick in the third round instead of taking running back Charles Sims, who will miss most of his rookie season with an ankle injury:
Had they not taken Sims, they could have taken Spencer Long, Gabe Jackson, Chris Watt, Trai Turner or Brandon Linder, all guards who went in the third round. Any of those guys would have been an instant candidate to start. Sims never was a candidate to start. That job belongs to Martin. Sims was going to be a rotational player. But he won’t even be playing for at least the first half of the season. Sims suffered an ankle injury that will keep him out 12 to 14 weeks. You can’t control injuries and you can’t blame Licht and Smith for what happened to Sims. He still might turn out to be a terrific player. But you certainly can question why the Bucs didn’t use a third-round pick on a guard.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it's obviously too early to tell if any of those third-round guards will end up being better than Edwards or anyone else on the Bucs' roster. But it's worth pointing out Tampa Bay could possibly be in a better spot had they taken a guard earlier instead of adding to an already-stacked backfield.
The trade for Mankins takes care of the left guard spot, but they could still use an upgrade on the left side over the likes of Patrick Omameh, Oniel Cousins and Edwards. That upgrade could have easily come with that third-round pick.