Trades, Signings for Buccaneers to Pursue After Julio Jones' Reported Contract
Tampa Bay Buccaneers star quarterback Tom Brady will have yet another weapon to play with this season after the team reportedly agreed to sign veteran wide receiver Julio Jones on Tuesday.
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the seven-time Pro Bowler is signing a one-year deal with the Buccaneers in hopes of pursuing a championship. Jones spent 2021 with the Tennessee Titans after starring for the Atlanta Falcons through the first 10 years of his career.
Despite coming off a down year in which he failed to record 500 receiving yards for the first time in his career, Jones still has the capabilities to be a productive player. He will have more of an opportunity to produce in 2022 while playing in Tampa Bay's pass-happy offense alongside fellow wideouts Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who is coming off a torn ACL.
While signing Jones helps fortify the Bucs' passing attack, the team still has some areas it could look to improve for this season and beyond as it chases another Lombardi Trophy.
Here are some trades and free-agent signings that could propel Tampa Bay forward.
Sign Veteran Offensive Guard
Addressing the offensive line was a priority for Tampa Bay this offseason, and the team did a solid job so far by re-signing Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen and adding guard Shaq Mason to replace the retired Ali Marpet.
However, the Bucs also lost their other starting guard Alex Cappa in free agency when he signed with the Cincinnati Bengals, leaving a hole opposite Mason. Right now, Aaron Stinnie is penciled in as the starter, but he only appeared in six games in 2021 and 18 games over the first five years of his career.
Tampa Bay would be wise to sign another veteran guard to solidify its offensive line. Ereck Flowers is still on the market and would be a strong fit. Former Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is expected to complete a medical residency in Montreal and field offers from NFL teams in September.
Protecting Brady is obviously the first and foremost concern for the Bucs, but adding a seasoned offensive lineman can also benefit the team's run game. Tampa Bay ranked 26th in the NFL last season with 98.4 rushing yards per game. A strong offensive line can help provide balance for the team's offensive attack.
Trade for Robert Quinn
Earlier this offseason, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported that veteran Chicago Bears defensive end Robert Quinn "wants out of Chicago." His feelings would be understandable, considering the Bears are staring down a lengthy rebuild and are not expected to be competitive this season.
Quinn, who reportedly reported to training camp Tuesday after skipping mandatory minicamp last month, is coming off a strong 2021 season in which he recorded 18.5 sacks and was named to his third career Pro Bowl. The 32-year-old appears to be at the top of his game, and he would be squandered while playing for a non-contender.
Enter the Buccaneers. Securing a trade for Quinn would give Tampa Bay a formidable edge-rusher who would make an immediate impact.
Linebacker Shaquil Barrett led the Bucs with 10 sacks last season, and the team's total of 47 ranked seventh in the league. Adding Quinn to that mix would make Tampa Bay's defense even more dangerous.
The Buccaneers also signed Quinn's former Bears defensive line teammate Akiem Hicks last month, so a reunion would likely be welcomed. If Tampa Bay hopes to bolster its pass rush this year, Quinn looks to be a perfect fit.
Trade for Saquon Barkley
The Buccaneers are a star running back away from having a superteam on offense. Perhaps a former Pro Bowler will be available on the trade market during the season.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he has a lot to prove. After looking like the most promising ball-carrier in recent memory through his first two seasons, Barkley suffered a torn ACL in 2020 and struggled mightily during his comeback last year. If he once again gets off to a slow start this season, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Giants shopping the former Penn State standout.
The Buccaneers lost some depth at running back when Ronald Jones II signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent. Leonard Fournette is back as the primary ball-carrier, but he reportedly was overweight earlier this offseason before getting down to 245 pounds for the start of training camp, per Pro Football Focus' Doug Kyed.
A veteran team pursuing a championship can never have too many young weapons. Trading for the 25-year-old Barkley would be a major boost to the Bucs' backfield.
Pairing Barkley with Fournette would give Tampa Bay a two-headed monster at running back, and splitting carries would keep both of them fresh for the team's potential playoff run. And for what it's worth, B/R's Kristopher Knox pegged the Bucs as the best fit for Barkley in the event that he's traded this year.