The Defensive End Pickle

January 20th, 2018

May not hit open market.

Boy, the Bucs have themselves painted into a corner.

It is just criminal how this franchise seems to urinate in the wind when it comes drafting/signing/developing/keeping defense through the past decade. It truly is unreal.

To this day, Joe doesn’t know what is more asinine, letting Michael Bennett walk away for no good reason or a certain coach now in the Big Ten thinking Mike Jenkins was a better option at cornerback than Darrelle Revis.

So last night Joe was monitoring unrestricted free agents at defensive end. The pickings, just on face value, are slim.

The top six unrestricted free agents for sacks at defensive end are DeMarcus Lawrence (14.5 sacks), Ezekiel Ansah (12), Julius Peppers (11), Adrian Clayborn (9.5), Alex Okafor (4.5), who tore his Achilles in November, and Denico Autry (5).

Mind you Clayborn’s numbers are way loaded because he had a freak six-sack game against Dallas.

One must also weigh the very real possibility teams could franchise their top sackmeisters.

Reports from Dallas seem to indicate, both from Lawrence and Cowboys beat guy Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys will likely franchise Lawrence. With Ansah, Joe would be surprised if Detroit let’s him go. The Lions have a nice piece of change available under the cap. So that likely takes Ansah off the board.

Joe is fond of Peppers because, even though he is 38 years old, he still has gas left in the tank and won’t break the bank. No, he’s not a long-term answer but Joe doesn’t think Bucs coach Dirk Koetter or Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht have the luxury of thinking long-term right now. They need sacks — and wins!

So unless a decent player is a salary cap casualty (Bennett?), it is not exactly a Las Vegas buffet of defensive ends that will be available.

47 Responses to “The Defensive End Pickle”

  1. R.O. Says:

    Sacks don’t equal wins. Pass on Peppers. One of the most overrated players to ever play the game….

  2. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    The future is NOW!!! Agree Joe…I would certainly consider Peppers if his health continues to remain solid.

    Jim Marshall played until he was 42. One of the biggest problems we have in all areas of society is simply lumping entire groups together and not considering individuals. Yeah no doubt after 35 it’s tougher to play in the NFL…that MOST older players are either kickers or QB’s…but there are players who break that mold and should be viewed INDIVIDUALLY!

    London Fletcher is another name that comes to mind and since we’re talking about Redskins how about Darrell Green who played freaking cornerback for the skins until he was 42! Who says Grimes is old?

  3. William Berry Says:

    Sacks don’t equal wins?

    Yeah, they kinda do. Sacks usually result in defensive stops, and defensive stops are often critical to getting a win.

  4. kgh4life Says:

    I wouldn’t mind if the Bucs bring in Peppers on a one year deal provided he plays a situational role. I think he did that with the Panthers and got the 11 sacks. The bigger problem here which Joe alluded to, is that free agency for the d-ends is lackluster. If the Bucs want to have an effective 4-3 defense they need ends that can consistently get after the QBs if not then it will be the same result next season.

    The draft is no guarantee either. If the Bucs choose two d-ends out of the upcoming draft, there is no guarantee that that they will make a big impact. Its rare for rookie d-ends to get 10+ sacks their first year.

  5. SB Says:

    ‘Sacks don’t equal wins.”
    Funny, the Top 5 Sacking teams in the league this yr were Pitt, Jacksonville, Rams, NE, and Carolina. All of those teams were playing in January and one of them is headed to the SB.
    A fierce Pass rush makes and average Secondary look Great.

  6. firethecannons Says:

    all in on the position in this years draft and develop these guys.

  7. Andrew Says:

    Is there a good DE we could get for DeSean Jackson? Koetter clearly doesn’t know how to use Jackson, and we’re a little crowded on offense anyway (though that can be a good thing when the injury bug bites).

  8. BucYoCouch Says:

    Sacks don’t equal wins???? You have to kidding, right? Defense wins games as we’ve seen over several years. We have been in many winnable games that came down to the defense and we pooped the bed.

  9. bucfan999 Says:

    NO NO NO NO NO on Bennett, we need to build a young defense for the long haul. Quick fixes simply do not work, Bennett is over 30 years old and on the downhill slide and he’s a cancer. I would rather have zero sacks from the D-Line than Bennett in Tampa.

  10. cmurda Says:

    I would say that Joe should let the whole letting Bennett go but it was literally so ridiculously stupid that no, you shouldn’t let it go. Nor should you let go of letting Talib walk for nothing. We could go on and on. Again. we aren’t a cursed organization. For over a decade we have had inane leadership from the GM and coaching staff.

  11. Guzzie Says:

    Peppers would never play for us, he’s more likely to play for a team with a chance not a cellar dweller just to get paid, he already did that in his youth when he signed with da Bears, he’s loaded too it won’t be about money, we can pretty much say goodbye to the notion that guys would want to play for our idiot QB, eat on that JW

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Excellent Joe, excellent!!!!!!! Our DLine is our worst position group (well, maybe tied with our Secondary) & our options for fixing it are VERY limited. You’re right on in that FA pickings for DEs are slim this year (although a sharp GM could always TRADE for one). But there are a number of excellent DTs on the FA lists who could serve us very, very well for several years (until we can draft a younger group). And there are several excellent prospects in the draft who should be able to help us right away, although we probably won’t be getting any of the better ones in Rounds 4-7. Plus we’ve got several DEs that I wouldn’t hesitate to keep in addition to Spence … Russell, Clarke, Gholston & maybe Ward come to mind. Augment that group with 2-3 DEs drafted in rounds 1-3 (even if it requires moving up in the draft) and we MIGHT be able to fix our DLine woes fairly quickly.

  13. Guzzie Says:

    Yeah joe how about a reality article about how unlikely quality FAs will come to Tampa because we have Lameis antics last year, 4 not so flattering incidents, Uber, eat Ws, Saints and Panthers, plus turnover prone, hope I’m wrong but that’s a lot of unnecessary things just like at FSU, sensing a pattern Joe???

  14. LakeLand Says:

    They will have get the sacks by committee.

  15. Bird Says:

    Peppers has made his money.

    He will stay in Carolina for discount.

    Wish we had quality players that would take a discount to stay in Tampa

  16. Ben Says:

    Bucs need to break the bank on getting an impact DE. With mcCoy getting old they need to take advantage of what years he has left. If they get an impact player it would be like getting a 2 for 1 deal bc it would greatly help free up McCoy to get more sacks and help the secondary. If ansah and lawrence are gone lets hope bennett becomes available. Dont sign anyone of these old or second string dEs

  17. Tony from Los Angeles Says:

    Hence my constant point that the Bucs need to sign multiple free agents and draft multiple players this offseason for the defensive line. There is no quick fix to their lack of starter talent and quality depth. Go all-in and pick/sign multiple guys and let them battle and compete with the incumbents. Let job security and hunger let the talent come out the way it always should – through competition – not gifting someone the job.

    Fix the trenches, fix the bucs!!

  18. Mike Johnson Says:

    CHUBBY’S gonna be gone by our pick. So is Barkley. Colts said yesterday Chubby was their man. Unless we really think Keyes is the man, I hope our Bucs trade down and get 2 for 1 in the 1st round. We need..lotsa help.

  19. 1VAbucsfan Says:

    The Bucs best shot maybe swiping Dee Ford from KC and hoping he can put his hand in the dirt or like Smith said he could do adjust his scheme to the players he has(I’ve yet to see that). Hoping Ford can put his hand in the dirt and signing Okafor is where we are!

  20. Nate738 Says:

    This is a no brainer sign Levin bell and draft a past rusher..

  21. Guzzie Says:

    Basically as of now, there aren’t any quality FA DEs available this year, we are screwed, doesn’t matter if we have all the money in the world if there isn’t anyone to spend it on, only no name, 2nd level guys or old, soon to be retired, and the Bucs way keeps on rolling

  22. Rod Munch Says:

    I’ve been saying the same thing for a while, for all those saying spend in free agency, my question is spend on what? The FA market this year is not a good one. There’s perhaps some options at corner, but for d-line, there isn’t anything that looks like it’s a solution – most options are merely variations of what we already have. The Bucs should look to try to trade for someone, that might be the only way to get someone that will contribute right away as rookie d-linemen rarely make a big impact – it’s not impossible, but rare.

    Conversely the Bucs might be better off to change up their defense. The best pass rusher on the team is Lavonte David and Spence is undersized to be a down lineman edge rusher – so why not switch to more of 3-4? It’s not like the defense can actually get worse, and with having a lot of good linebackers and not enough d-lineman, then why not try something different. In a 3-4 you could have McCoy slide over to end, while not ideal it’s something he should be able to do, much like how Sapp played out of position with the Raiders. Gholston would probably be a better fit at DE in a 3-4 where it’s more about playing the run, and Ayers could serve as depth. Finally for NT the Bucs do have Tu’ikolovatu coming back, and he seems like a natural fit. But I do believe you can get someone to play NT in any case, I think it’s easier than trying to find an edge rusher.

  23. teacherman777 Says:

    Peppers would never come here!

    We are in trouble guys.

    At least sign Grimes to a big money deal. I honestly think he is one of the best CB’s to ever play the game. (Even though he doesnt like tackling)

    Our D-line is screwed.

    Gholston is over-paid. He should be a backup.
    Ayers is over-paid. He should be a backup.
    McDonald is decent but not a starter.
    Clarke IV is 6-6 and 280 but hes a backup.
    Ryan Russell is a bubble-roster player. Inactive on Sundays.

    Stevie T- short legs. Just a rock. No legs.
    Noah Spence- 3rd down player.

    We are missing 3 true starters next to GMC.


    Sign Grimes!

  24. Not there yet Says:

    Don’t know why you think a guy at the end of a Hall of Fame career would diss the team that drafted him to play for a rival. These guys are out there now but would he sign a one year deal with the bucs at 38 or sign a one year with the Panthers who are more likely to make the playoffs.

    Not saying I want Clayborn I just like calling you out for the haters you are. If anyone on this team besides GMC had a six sack game are you going to say except for that one game or give credit where credit is due? Haters he’s not elite but he still had a six sack game haters

  25. Pa Privateer Says:

    OKAY OKAY OKAY. Let’s back up and take a different angle.

    You have to take a economics and physics approach to something if there is simply no FA DEs available. I do this every year in the draft when figuring out Licht’s draft focus. You can’t just simply plug in a need and pull a fix to the pass rush this year.

    Everything is Investment/cost vs reward

    What is the Goal? = improve the pass rush

    Possibilities: FA DE, Trade DE, Draft DE, UDFA DE
    FA DE = Almost no reward investment. Top FA DEs are not available
    Trade DE = You only trade for a player when you are close to playoffs
    Draft DE = Pick placement, player rankings, scouting
    UDFA = scouting time of thousands of players

    If one of the top 4 doesn’t give a high reward than you need to look at factors outside of a pass rushing DE. This goes to Defensive system or position impacts of Pass Rushing DE.

    We focus on a Better pass rushing DT and Cover CB in FA. DT Dontari Poe, DT Richardson, and CB Butler come to mind.

    Licht isn’t going to trade a draft pick for a Veteran FA DE. Not happening
    The draft is Licht’s security blanket and will get him an extension next year.

    Licht is going to draft DL in the draft. Most likely going to trade up in the 2nd round from the 3rd to help with this need. If Chubb is gone, then a DT might be happening (VEA). DE in the 2nd/3rd is most likely with an additional DE in later rounds.

    UDFA is going to be a huge focus for Licht this year. More than ever, he is going to need to find additional Gems there.

  26. Rrsrq Says:

    The question is Chubb worth trading up for with the Giants, how much would it cost…, because it’s not just a need for a pass rush, it is desperation. Not sure if Chubb is Julio, but I’m guessing, the Falcons have no regrets.

    If Bennet is a cap casualty, I like Bennett and Chubb on the ends, if Lawrence and Ansah don’t hit the market. Bennett buys you a couple of years. Offer the Giants our first, third and Martin. Go back and get McDougal too at safety.

  27. Capt.Tim Says:

    We have no DEs.
    And we cant look to FRee agency for hel.
    The coaches/ Gm here will ( almost certainly) be fired at the end of next year.
    A lousy team with all management under siege?
    No FA worth having would come here. Too many playoff teams with competent coaches/Gms looking for DEs, to waste career years here.

    We will have to draft DEs, and hope they develop.
    And try to get something out of Will Clarke and Ryan Russel in the mean time.
    Every other DE on our roster is a waste of oxygen, and should be cut.

    The only hope we have to generate a pass russ next year- is to Trade McCoy, Fire Smith, and switch to a 3-4 defense.
    McCoy is a true 4-3 linemen, and still has High value as such.
    Smith isnt capable of coaching a 3-4 defense.
    Or a 4-3 defense, now that I mention it

    We have Good Lbers. Noah Spence would be a freat rush LB.
    It is our only chance to generate a Pass rush in the next year or two.

    But this team wont do it.
    Because they suck, and will continue to do so

  28. NFLNut Says:


    I’d be thrilled with Ziggy … Lawrence and Peppers aren’t leaving their current teams imho

    Sign Ziggy and trade the #7 for the #21 and #22 and draft the best DE available (Key, Davenport or Hubbard most likely) along with the best DT available (Vea or Hurst) and the defensive line is instantly transformed into a strength!


  29. Ateonetreebucsfan Says:

    We have to make a move for Robert Quinn and sign another defensive end. Licht has to hit in free agency for us to be relevant next year. Sign norvell and make a move for Quinn. Offer the rams brate and. A 4th rounder sign norvell and draft Quenton Nelson in the first. Get one of the defensive ends that fall in the second. Then take michel in the 3rd

  30. Guzzie Says:

    Funny how Licht has only drafted 1 DE although to be fare Spence is a 3-4 linebacker and a 7th round DT, 2 CBs, 1 safety, and 2 LBs 7 picks in 4 years, and only 1 looks like a definite keeper Evans sad

  31. NFLNut Says:


    By the way, no one seems to want to talk about it as they don’t want to get their hopes up … but … signing LEVEON BELL is actually a realistic possibility … it really is.

    I don’t think the Steelers will franchise him again as I don’t think he’s bluffing about sitting out the entire year … so … he really is a wide-open unrestricted free agent that can sign wherever he wants. People just assume he’ll stay in Pittsburgh, but he may not … the city is cold and dull and while, sure, he may have a better chance of winning a ring over these last 2 years of Big Ben’s contract (and career most likely), the odds are still very low with the Patriots being the Steelers kryptonite and now Jacksonville seemingly owning them too … I could DEFINITELY see him going to the Browns for both the $$$$ and as that’s where he’s from and he could stick it to the Steelers 2x per year AND the Giants AND the Bucs (great weather, no state tax, an offensive filled with YOUNG studs he can grow with).

    It wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Bell leave the Steelers and sign with the Browns, Giants or Bucs, so I do think Licht should fly him into Tampa to meet with him, Jameis, Evans, Koetter and OJ at the very least!


  32. BucsFanInNC Says:

    Guzzie Kwon and Beckwith aren’t keepers?

  33. NFLNut Says:


    WHAT? You want to trade Brate and a 4th for Robert Quinn? NO! Brate and OJ can make the best 2 TE combo in the league for the next 5-10 years!

  34. Joe Says:

    Yeah joe how about a reality article about how unlikely quality FAs will come to Tampa because we have Lameis antics last year

    Actually, Jameis is one of the more popular players among fellow NFL players. It is why DJax came here.

    Sorry to burst your bubble.

  35. Joe Says:

    NO! Brate and OJ can make the best 2 TE combo in the league for the next 5-10 years!

    If Robert Quinn could be had for Cameron Brate, as much as Joe likes Brate, you pull that trigger

  36. NFLNut Says:


    I understand your train of thought on Quinn and I certainly agree a top DE is more valuable than a top TE, especially when we already have O.J. … but … Quinn makes around 12.5 mil a year and has only totalled 9.0 sacks in the past 2 years … plus his contract expires in 2 years.

    We could ink Brate to a 5 year deal AND still have enough money left over to sign a solid DE as well, all for the price of Quinn, so, no, I’m not sure I would trade Brate AND a 4th for Quinn … and even if we would offer that, the Rams may ask for Brate AND a 2nd … and to me, that’s too much.

  37. Rod Munch Says:

    Quinn has 12.5 sacks over the last two years, which includes missing 6 games. I don’t think for a second the Rams would even consider Brate plus a 4th, but if they did and I’m the Bucs, I instantly make that trade without a seconds thought. Brate is going to get like $7-8/mil a year, and he’s going to fall behind OJ on the depth chart at some point, and that’s a ton of money for a 2nd TE. If you use both of them then it really doesn’t matter if he’s a 1st or 2nd TE, and Brate certainly has value, but DE’s are much more difficult to find than TEs in the NFL.

  38. Wausa Says:

    Bucs need to load up at the defensive back position in free agency. They can also get a DT, RB and OG in free agency, but teams very rarely let good pass rushers go.

    Bucs draft:

    1) Derwin James DB Florida State
    2) Sam Hubbard DE Ohio State
    3) Chad Thomas DE Miami
    4) Dorance Armstrong DE Kansas
    5) Justin Jackson RB Northwestern
    6) Colby Gossett OG Appalachian State
    6) Desmond Harrison OT West Georgia

  39. Oxycondoms Says:

    The Bucs need to start injecting some performance enhancers in our dline what’s the worst that will happen get suspended its worth the risk

  40. godzilla13 Says:

    Ansah may be our only hope. Problem is he will cost $18M + a year. Is thata kind of money worth just one player? Heck for that money why not throw $5 to 7M at Clayborne and re-sign him or Peppers for even less?? DE is the most difficult position to find and we need one in the worst way. The other thought is invest in the draft and FA in re-signing Grimes and egt another shut down Corner and hope Spence comes back and stays healthy with Ayers and Gholston. Draft and develop a DE in the later rounds and rebuild from there.

  41. NFLNut Says:

    Can we please stop with the Julius Peppers nonsense … he left the Packers to return to Carolina where he was drafted, wants to retire as a Panther and go into the HOF as a Panther imho … forget signing that dude.

  42. denjoe Says:

    It’s not looking like, we’ll do anything in free agency! I Don’t expect the Glazer’s to invest much into it. I don’t know I hope I’m wrong but the whole keep all the crappy assistant coaches thing has me thinking they have either checked out or they are gonna cash out.

  43. Cobraboy Says:

    Why would Peppers leave the winning Kitties for the loser Bucs at the end of his career?

  44. gotbbucs Says:

    The scheme has to be adjusted, HAS to be. McCoy needs to be a compliment and not a focal point. His snap count has be lower.
    This team has better pieces in place for a 34/43 hybrid than it does for a straight up 43.
    I don’t want year this bullspit about over/under fronts being the same as a 34. That’s a lazy excuse for the coordinator not actually knowing how to install/call a defense for today’s NFL.

    Don’t limit the team to only going after the typical 6’4″-285 lb. defensive end.

  45. NFLNut Says:


    There’s no reason to think the Bucs won’t spend in free agency …brining their coaches back may actually point to them spending big as they’re putting their money into free agents rather than new coaches …

  46. mark2001 Says:

    Jacksonville looks so much better than we do. And among them, their kicker has only missed one kick all year.

  47. Brandon Says:

    And to think, the Bucs drafted a right defensive end only in Adrian Clayborn, who had no get off and not much of a right hand, was coming off a whopping 3.5 sacks as a senior but skipped the Senior Bowl anyways while Cameron Jordan was still on board, who could play both sides, was faster, bigger, stronger, far more productive his senior season… and absolutely dominated all week at the Senior Bowl…. one guy is an All-Pro… the other guy has been a below average DE (except for one game in his career).