Intriguing Guard Now Free

February 9th, 2019

All-Pro guard for Bruce Arians.

If you believe the Bucs’ offensive line is just fine (and Joe is not one of those always hollering the Bucs offensive line is the reason for the spread of the Ebola virus and the rise in prescription costs), Joe only has two words for you:

“Caleb Benenoch.”

So yeah, the Bucs have a hole at right guard. Short of drafting a guy, the fast solution is a trade or a free agent.

Well, help may have been placed on the doorstep of One Buc Palace like someone giving away a basket of puppies. A former All-Pro guard had the final year of his contract voided this morning. That would be Mike Iupati of the Cardinals.

Yes, playing in Arizona in 2015 for then-Cardinals coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, both now with the Bucs, Iupati was named All-Pro. Iupati is a four-time Pro Bowler.

A bruising, brawling guard, he was a monster in the run game first with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh and then later with the Cardinals.

Now Iupati, who will 32 in May, has been dealing with knee issues. He has only played in 11 games in the past two years but did log 10 games last year before he hit the injured reserve list in December.

Of course, there are some ifs here. First, Iupati is a left guard. The Bucs already have one in Ali Marpet. However, Marpet as a rookie played his best ball at right guard. Since he has already proven himself there, relocating to right guard would not or should not be a big deal.

The big if is whether Iupati can pass a physical?

Arians said two things in the past few months that suggest Iupati wearing a Bucs uniform adds up.

One comment was Arians is not interested in rebuilding. Second, he said in today’s offensive line crisis, if you draft a rookie, you are likely grooming him for the next coach. Why? Guys coming from spread offenses — which has taken a stranglehold on college teams — are often not prepared to play NFL-style ball.

The fact a stud lineman who Arians and Goodwin, now the Bucs run-game coordinator, both know well is free, Iupati is a name to keep a close eye on immediately.

56 Responses to “Intriguing Guard Now Free”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh ya, 32 years old, 11 games in the past TWO years (as in ‘33% availability’?), knee problems, and his final year was voided by the worst team in the league. What could possibly go wrong.

  2. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    Defense Rules

    Anything is better than Benenoch 😉

  3. Destinjohnny Says:

    When u can’t draft you have to beg borrow and steal

  4. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    I could definitely see it if the price is right. As long as you don’t count on the guy remaining healthy and you groom someone to take his place.

    A stop gap if you will!

  5. martinii Says:

    Maybe I am a bit naive but wouldn’t the transition to BA’s system be a little easier if we had a few former BA Players. Even if they are back-ups. We are talking a complete culture change in Tampa.Maybe a guy like Tyrieu Mathews (Honey Bear), I agree anything is better than Benenoch.

  6. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    PASS on Iupati . Donovan Smith is more dangerous to JW’s health than Benenoch.

  7. Bird Says:

    Agree. Anything is better then Benenoch. I think Benenoch was ranked last or second to last in guards with so many snaps played last year.

    Mike lupati was ranked #31 guard by PFF.

    Considering there are 32 teams and therefore 64 starting guards , he is ranked right in middle. Average. Due to age and injuries and love for BA , he could be had for cheap.

    Why not. They have already overpaid for guys and throw in Donovan smith so this could be temporary fix on the cheap. To many holes. You got to pay some guys nothing.

    And then Bucs could draft tackle which I think is more crucial.

  8. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    Yes yes yes

  9. Mort Says:

    Bring him in for a physical, and let the results of that dictate your level of interest. Seems simple tbh.

  10. SammyRebel Says:

    Man this guy was a beast, I’m sure he’s motivated to get back to form for at least one more year and the Bucs should sign him for the vet minimum just to bridge that position

  11. JimmyJack Says:

    You obvisously can’t sign this guy and think we are fine at the Guard position. He’s not reliable at 32.

    My plan would be to sign a Journeyman type G and T. Then draft one of each to develope and compete. Lupati would work well in that plan.

    I would keep D.Smith for a franchise tag year but one of the key goals this season would be finding your LT for the future. Whether it be D. Smith or somebody else.

  12. 941bucsfan Says:

    Ir sweezy balled out on all u idiots this year.

  13. Gruden4President Says:

    Whats not to like. He can be our next Logan Mankins but younger and also he will probably come cheap.

  14. Howard Cosell Says:

    941bucsfan Says:
    February 9th, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Ir sweezy balled out on all u idiots this year.

    That fact alone sheds more light on how Much incredible suck the glazer run Bucs have had. Sweezy literally used the glazers for paid rehab Lolol. Spin it any way you want but Sweezy trolled the Bucs like no other. Absolutely masterful job on Sweezys part of robbing the out of touch owners.
    Horrible team with worse owners who get away with running out a SH*T SHOW FOR AROUND 12 YEARS NOW

  15. Gruden4President Says:

    Sign Iupati for the low and draft a guy in the mid rds to develop behind him.

  16. Jean Lafitte Says:

    If he wants to come in and don the floppy hat for some of our needed cap space then by all means why not? It’s the Buccaneer way.

    If he wants to come in and compete for the starting role and negotiate a contract after camp or accept a backup role for backup money then that’s a better ideal.

    But odds are, we’ll probably do the first.

  17. JP_09 Says:

    Rather sign DJ Fluker, he’s younger and would be a reasonable price. Still need to draft two OL in this draft plus two DL

  18. Howard Cosell Says:

    A Logan Mankins comparison??

    Bwahahahahaha!!!! Stop it Lol….I’m hyperventilating

  19. ncbucsfan Says:

    Hard pass!

  20. donuts Says:

    So Iupati is 33% better than Benenoch

  21. Joe Says:

    If he wants to come in and compete for the starting role and negotiate a contract after camp or accept a backup role for backup money then that’s a better ideal.

    Players are not allowed to practice unless they are under contract. Besides, that just beyond stupid to work for free.

  22. Miken Says:

    I talked to one of his sf coaches 4 yrs ago. Said he partied too much and was below average. Said he was about done. The next year they let him go to ax. Doesn’t sound like he is worth it

  23. tmaxcon Says:

    Benenoch would not be so bad if he was not playing next to such a garbage rt in Dotson….. Dotson is pure garbage yet receives free pass from low standard bucfan scared of talent.

  24. Darin Says:

    Sign him. And Jared Veldheer. Draft a tackle and guard too. Run blockers are coming boys. Count on that. That’s why i cant imagine Smith getting resigned. Some people in the know seem to think its a lock though. Hmmmm. I’d trade down and draft a LT in the first round. Instant upgrade and save cap space. Unless of course Josh Allen is at 5.

  25. Owlykat Says:

    Don’t forget Logan Mankins at 33 years old in 2015 was the best Buc’s Guard in the last decade, and he wasn’t a four time All Pro Guard! So absolutely, get him. And there are some College Programs still left that are not running a spread Offense so there are some Pro ready Guards in this year’s draft. Pro style college offenses include Boston College, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, South Carolina, U. Of Southern Cal., Boise State, and so forth. An excellent Guard in this year’s draft is from Boston College—Chris Lindstrom, if you want to also draft a Guard in case you want a backup to learn from Iupati and step up if he can’t finish the season and be the long term answer. Ole Miss just hired a new OC specifically to install a spread offense this year; but we can grab their OT Greg Little who played at Ole Miss last year after moving down a few picks in the first round to learn behind Liedtke at LT until he is developed to take over! Much, much cheaper solution than making lazy Turnstyle D. Smith a Super Millionaire!!!

  26. AKickInTheBucNuts Says:

    Haven’t the Bucs brought in enough “old, or hurt, or played in half the games, or at the end of their NFL life cycle for free Glazer pay days?

    We never get value out of these types of guys.

    Let’s stop bringing them in.

  27. JimmyJack Says:

    Darin sorry that is not a option. That #5 pick is reserved for defense. We got the worst one in football and Bowels needs that pick.

    We got one guy you can legitametly can a playmaker and he is on the wrong side of 30.
    Adding in a playmaker for the D is our biggest need.

    It will meet BPA this year too which is a beautiful thing.

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    @First Down Tampa Bay … “Anything is better than Benenoch.” I knew it; my worst nightmare has now come true. Jason Licht’s acquisitions have now convinced us that ANYTHING is an upgrade over what we now have on our roster.

    Champions don’t settle for ‘anything better than Benenoch’. At least hold out for a Guard who’s say at the most 30 with only one gimpy leg. We deserve it.

  29. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Joe, C’mon, you know I didn’t refer to playing free. I’m not stupid. Sign him at minimum money then renegotiate if he takes the starting role.

  30. Owlykat Says:

    Oh and Greg Little isn’t little. He is 6’5” and 325 lbs. and a long powerfully built athlete who is very smooth pass blocking as contrasted to Turnstyle D. Smith who speed rushers run right by and are on top of Jameis in three seconds flat. The Rebels last year were a drop back pocket passing team that put up big yards in the air so it shouldn’t take long to develop Little to keep Jameis’ blind side safe and stop rushed passes risking interceptions and stop strip fumbles by Jameis altogether! BA should take a close look at Little along with Licht. We don’t have a lot of cap to waste on Smith!

  31. AlteredEgo Says:

    All Caps….NOPE !

  32. JimmyJack Says:

    Olwkat……Thanks for the info about them schools. Not sure what kind of system for Notre Dame but that school has produced OL for decades.

    Don’t think too many fans are going to be happy if Liedke is penciled in as our starter.

    I don’t see the big deal about paying D.Smith. You have the option to pay him for just one season so it gives you a lot of options for the future which makes it a nice plan moving forward………..I doubt they will trust Liedke so unless they want to rely on a 2nd rounder at LT they will have to pay a free agent top dollar to come here. And it will also require a multi year contract so you are stuck with them and now have less future options.

    You tag Smith and develope behind him while coaching Donavon up…..and coaching up Liedke. A good coaching staff attendance could take what we already have and turn into a deep unit next year.

    Our last staff was incapable of developing and coaching up offensive lineman. This was the crux of the problem. If Bruce & staff can develope OL then the problems fade away.

  33. JimmyJack Says:

    I am confident with Bruce that he will not tolerate laziness from his team.

    This should benefit D.Smith and get him to hit his potential…….If not he will probably not be a starter.

    I have been watching some Cardinals games from back in 2013 and one play caught my eye.
    Their LT got beat and Palmer was stripped. The LT got beat off the snap but unlike D.Smith he didn’t give up on the play. He was able to chip the End who had a free run on the QB. He still made the play but if not for the 2nd effort of the LT Palmer would have been eating dirt. My guess is that the LT was coached to play this way and had he given up on the play he would be on the bench.

  34. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    Not a bad choice ( if healthy ) as the “bridge” player who can affirm the BA way.

  35. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    The last time we brought in an old Pro Bowl Guard with knee problems it worked out pretty well….Mankins and we gave up a 4th round pick for him……let’s give it a shot….but…

    We need to draft a OG & two OTs…..
    Transition tag Donovan Smith and then cut him after a year.

    We are in cap hell….

  36. Cobraboy Says:

    32 with bad knees sounds like a Gruden wet dream.

  37. Jonathan Lipnicki Says:

    Good one CobraKai!

    Charlie Garner & Derrick Deese come to mind…

  38. macabee Says:

    What the heck is going on with the Bucs? Why are we always a man short on the O-Line? These are the guys listed as OGs with the Bucs now. OGs Liedtke and Boozer have been here long enough to either show something or should be gone.

    GUARDS – 5

    64 Boozer, Cole G 6-5 300 23 2 Temple
    65 Cappa, Alex G 6-6 305 R Humboldt State
    70 Holcomb, Ruben G 6-4 309 23 R Indianapolis
    67 Liedtke, Michael G 6-3 310 26 2 Illinois State
    74 Marpet, Ali G 6-4 307 24 4 Hobart

    Why can’t we find a home-raised guy to play OG other than Marpet? This year OT Trent Brown, the highest rated OT in FA was a 7th rounder. Last year the highest rated OG was Andrew Norwell a UDFA. The problem is we can’t develop O-Linemen or haven’t yet. Other than Marpet (draft) and Mankins (FA), we haven’t done a good job of picking them either. That needs to change!

    Hopefully, we do a better job of both now. Go Bucs!

  39. BucEmUp 7 Says:

    If he is cheap sure..I dont give a crap how good the guy is , doesnt help when hes on injured reserve. Sounds like last season was the last of hus best possibly. A one year deal for 4 mil

  40. AlteredEgo Says:

    It is not him coming “Cheap”….it is the ROSTER spot ! this is not a roster in need of plug and play…we’ve been grabbing that bag of gas for 10 years…I’d much much rather the FO says ..hey folks we are rebuilding with youth and it’ll take a few years

  41. Jerry Jones Says:

    In Bruce, I abide.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    @Owlykat … “Don’t forget Logan Mankins at 33 years old in 2015 was the best Buc’s Guard in the last decade, and he wasn’t a four time All Pro Guard!” Not sure you’re giving Mankins enough credit Owlykat. He was selected to the Pro-Bowl SEVEN times in his 11 year career, although you’re right, he was ‘only’ 1st team All-Pro ONCE.

    What I remember about him though is that when he was traded to us in 2014, our heat seemed to do a number on him. But what impressed me a bunch is that in that next off-season Logan really got into fantastic shape (at age 33) & had a beast of a year in 2015 (played in & started 15 games, and made the Pro-Bowl). He was the FIELD GENERAL for that OLine IMO & was THE difference far as I’m concerned in terms of getting Ali & Donovan off to an excellent start as rookies. Would love to see the Bucs find another veteran OLineman like him this year.

  43. RustyRhinos Says:

    Lol Cobraboy. To bad so sad but true. We do need oline depth and he could be a great backup.

    I see nothing wrong with trusting a 2nd round LT. We have been there and done that. He is the guy we need to pay or let walk. Or pay then let walk? He is a good LT. A 4 year starter who shows some better than good flashes now and then. While showing some bad flashes of play with some occasional lack of effort play flashes thrown in here and there. Paying him like he is Top 5 long term? I hope that management shows some of that same lack of effort in wanting to pay him top dollar long term. He has earned it. Pay him this season as a transition player and see if a different coach can improve his play, if not then. He can move on. We should draft another LT & G In this draft. Guys who can grow, as they play their way to take over. If we have a injury we have a plan.
    Go Bucs!

  44. Season Is Over Says:

    Why does this website want the average player age to be well over 30? This is just laughable. Pure comedy. The proper thing to do is actually draft talent and make it better. This website wouldn’t know that because they have been blindly supporting Koetter for years.

  45. Bobby M. Says:

    Proven vets aren’t coming to Tampa unless we over pay….And that’s kind of been the whole issue we’ve had with so many free agents being busts. The only way to offset that is good drafts…..and Licht has sucked at those too which is why we are talking about 3 positions on our o-line…plus RB and the secondary….ALL of those being positions we’ve dumped several picks in already.

  46. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I realize its Joe’s job to cover all possibilities…but I say no way to this one. 4 years ago? Sure. Not now.

  47. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    The AAF game is starting on CBS right now. Can’t believe I’m actually excited.

  48. Old School Athlete Says:

    @bonzai. Yes I’m excited too. Been looking forward to this for several months now. Hopefully they will simple rules and consistent and competent officiating.

  49. D1 Says:


    I think you missed Wisconsin. Always big physical and great run blockers. Also, they have 2 of the highly rated prospects declaring for the draft.

  50. admin Says:

    I’d much much rather the FO says ..hey folks we are rebuilding with youth and it’ll take a few years

    That’s not happening for at least three years.

  51. AlamabaBucsFan Says:

    Sign him. Even at 32, only need him for 2 years. Rebuild now through free agency and draft for the future.

  52. Anthony Dickson Says:

    A 32 year old, 300+lb’er with knee problems. Nuff said!

  53. Cobraboy Says:

    @Bonzai & Old School: I watched the Apollos-Legend stream down here in the DR.

    Seeing how these guys have not spent that much time with each other, I have to say I was impressed.

    Good football, and interesting rules. I especially like how the reviews worked on TV, how the review official walked you through the process.

    Go Apollos! The Old Ball Coach is back—obviously uncomfortable with a post-op back.

  54. StoutGospel Says:

    “Intriguing”…huh. 32 years old and knee problems, when you mostly squat and bend over for a living. Carrying 300+ pounds.

    Not intriguing.

    Iupati was certainly worth a look at 26-28 during the 48ers years with Harbaugh. THAT…was intriguing.

    Go Bucs!

  55. StoutGospel Says:


  56. TOM Says:

    People that say put the transition tag on D Smith make it sound like the Bucs have all kind of money to throw around. I say 13 0r 14 mil for Smith is ludicrous not to mention stupid. I’m would take a flyer on Iupati at vet min.