Michael Bennett And Free AgencyMarch 8th, 2013
Aside from what Ronde Barber is going to do in his immediate future — he met with the Bucs’ brass yesterday and both parties are tight-lipped about the meeting — the biggest question with Bucs free agents is what is going to happen to Michael Bennett.
Longtime Bucs beat writer Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times believes Bennett has played his final snap with the Bucs.
Tampa Bay plans to play Da’Quan Bowers, a second-round pick from Clemson in 2011, at left defensive end. They are confident he won’t miss games due to his gun charges in New York. And remember, a few years ago, he led the nation in sacks and was considered a top five pick until a knee injury dropped him in the draft.
The Bucs decided not to use their franchise or transition tag on Bennett, meaning they don’t think he’s an $11-million per year player. If he remained in Tampa Bay, he would be a nickel pass rusher if the Bucs plans to start Bowers were realized.
Here’s what Joe would like to know: Did the Bucs annoint Da’Quan Bowers the starter because Bennett is not coming back? Look, Joe likes Bowers a lot. And he has shown flashes of being dominant. But not only has he not been consistent, he has yet to play a full season and always seems to be hurt.
Letting Bennett walk, unless someone is going to drop stupid cash in his lap (a strong possibility), doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The Bucs shouldn’t let their most productive pass rusher walk away if there is a chance to match his offer from another team, so long as it is not obscene money.
Having Bowers start at left defensive end has a bunch of potholes right now. Yes, there’s his health. Anyone forget that many expected Bowers to have a short career because of a bum knee? No, he hasn’t had any knee problems — yet. At least none anyone is aware of.
And who knows if he will be available in 2014 because of his handgun hassle in New York?
Oh, and what about that coveted rotation the Bucs always brag about on their defensive line because of the brutal early-season Florida heat? That goes out the window if Bennett is gone.
This is why Joe has had a hunch for months the Bucs would draft a defensive end in the first round. If what Stroud suggests comes true, it just reinforces Joe’s premise.