“We Don’t Have One”February 23rd, 2014
Unlike Greg Schiano, there will be no pie-in-the-sky winter fantasizing with Lovie Smith when it comes to edge pass rushers. When Lovie talks about double-digit sackmasters, he’s referring to guys who’ve done it before.
Tampa Tribune scribe Roy Cummings delivered the strongest message to date from the Bucs’ head coach, one that paints a picture of the Bucs’ priorities in free agency.
“You can never have too many defensive ends,’’ Smith said. “The moment you say you’re all set with defensive ends, bam, you’ll say, ‘Can you believe this other team just signed another one?’
“So, we’re always going to be looking for defensive linemen. That is the engine of our defense and what we do. And so we have to have a double-digit sack guy on the outside, and right now we don’t have one.’’
Michael Bennett? Jared Allen? Greg Hardy?
The Bucs surely are going to pursue one stud edge rusher available when the free agency bell rings in 16 days, and address the pass rush in the draft.
Joe’s starting to think Bennett might be the best fit given his versatility, and he’s got a nice blend of experience and an established work ethic. He can rush inside and out, and he prefers the left end, which isn’t too common. Also, if Lovie’s old pal Julius Peppers is cut from the Bears after June 1, which is very likely, he could be available on the cheap. And locking up Bennett would leave a potential opening for Peppers, who would play right defensive end opposite Bennett.
Regardless, it’s clear Lovie won’t be messing around with the messy Bucs pass rush. It will be addressed immediately, and he’ll be committed to perfecting it through the summer.