The Tampa Bay Bucs have fallen far from the tree of championship-caliber teams since their Super Bowl in 2003.
Their recent lack of luster can be contributed to an identity crisis at the quarterback position and an aging defense struggling to cope with the speed of the game, but the future isn't completely dark for this team.
After struggling under the arm of Josh Johnson early in the 2009 season, the team gave the reins to Josh Freeman and, despite a litany of losses, he looked hopeful as the team's future quarterback.
Cadillac Williams is displaying his true form of late, though injuries continue to plague him. The defense is becoming dangerously sluggish and, in order to remain competitive in a league that gets quicker and quicker each year, they will need to find some youth in this offseason.
Let's take a look at Tampa Bay's needs.
Biggest Needs: OT, OG, WR, HB
With a new defensive-minded coach struggling to retain his job, I expect the team to go in the direction of improving the non-possession side of the ball early in the draft, but that isn't to say they won't work hard to find offensive potential in the later rounds.
It's unfair to peg Josh Freeman as a bust based solely on the team's holistic performance in the season, so expect him to retain his starting job and improve by leaps and bounds in the coming year.
With Jeremy Trueblood looking more and more like an NFL tackle, I expect the Bucs to move him to left tackle and look to free agency to find a replacement on the right side, maybe Chad Clifton out of Green Bay.
Both starters at the offensive guard position are marginal at best so it will be up to Atlanta's scouting organization to find young talent deep in the draft. I have high doubts that ownership will be willing to pay top dollars in free agency for such an overrated position, even if Cincinnati's Bobbie Williams is still available after the first few days of signings.
Wide receiver isn't necessarily a dire need for Tampa Bay, but as every team should, they will keep an eye on the future and possibly look for a replacement for an aging Antonio Bryant. Mark Clayton will still be the No. 1 wide out for years to come, but a little youthful speed would help.
Cadillac Williams is a great running back, when he's on the field. With Derrick Ward behind him, finding a solid backup isn't a priority but I'll still be looking at the team to find a physical back to carry the load at the goal line and in tough third down scenarios. Say, a Leon Washington out of New York?
For the rest of Tampa Bay's needs, go here.