The Bucks are at the halfway point of their 2023 schedule, having lost four straight and falling to 3-5 as mid-November approaches. They are running out of time to pull together and push toward the playoffs. If their current form continues, it’s safe to assume they’ll end up with a top-10 pick and a new coaching staff for 2024.
Speaking of which, the midway point of the 2023 season feels like a good time for the Bucks to evaluate what they need in the 2024 offseason. So let’s take a look at some of Tampa Bay’s positional needs at the moment. Let’s start with the attack. He will be featured on PewterReport.com on Sunday morning when it comes to defensive needs.
Baker Mayfield only has a one-year deal, but he’s looking to sign a multi-year deal next offseason, whether it’s in Tampa Bay or elsewhere. He is by no means the biggest reason why the team is 3-5, but at this point it’s hard to say that Mayfield has done 100% enough to solidify himself as the Bucs’ quarterback of the future.
The current win-lose situation puts Todd Bowles, Dave Canales and the rest of the coaching staff in the spotlight. If a new coaching staff is put in place for the 2024 offseason, it’s hard to imagine Mayfield being etched as “that guy” going forward.New coaches are much more likely to want a fresh start. One of many talented quarterback prospects in the incoming class.
Aside from Mayfield, the Bucs only have Kyle Trask and John Wolford. It feels clear that Trask is not the answer. And you don’t even get a chance to prove otherwise. He is in his contract year in 2024 and has attempted nine regular season passes in his career. So, as of now, a quarterback is near the top of Tampa Bay’s list of needs next offseason.
How this will change in the future: Through eight games, Mayfield completed 64.9 percent of his passes for 1,865 yards, 12 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He also gained 122 yards on the ground. Those numbers are solid, and if you extrapolate them over the rest of the year, you’ll have a quarterback who has 3,963 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and nine interceptions.
It will be hard to ignore these numbers when considering who the Bucs should start at quarterback in 2024 and beyond. Needless to say, it’s hard to imagine Mayfield approaching 4,000 yards and throwing that many touchdowns without the team really turning things around in the second half and making the playoffs.
If Mayfield leads the Bucs to the playoffs, there will no longer be a need for a starting quarterback. In that reality, there would be no coaching change and Tampa Bay would definitely find a quarterback in Mayfield. The rest will depend on the numbers on his new contract. However, considering Mayfield will turn 29 next season, Jason Richt may want to join the talented 2024 quarterback draft class if given the chance.
The Bucks need to rebuild their backfield this offseason. Rathard White is under contract for two more years, but Chase Edmonds and Ke’Shawn Vaughn are free agents after this year, and neither is worth returning.
Given the need for teams to sign contract extensions, other needs that need to be addressed in free agency, and the league-wide general reluctance to pay free agent running backs, this likely resolves itself. It’s probably a necessary need. Filled through the draft.
The problem is that Jason Richt has a poor track record as a draft running back. Charles Sims, Jeremy McNichols, Ronald Jones II and Vaughn are all sidelined (other than perhaps Jones’ 2020 season). Even White, who seems certain to be a starter in the backfield, is better than some of the same backs selected after him — Houston’s Dameon Pierce, Atlanta’s Tyler Allgaier, Kansas City’s Isaiah Pacheco. is also showing excellent performance.
How this will change in the future: Can not do that. White is proving to be a great addition to the backfield and has two years left on his rookie contract. However, there isn’t another player on the roster worth bringing in in 2024.
Tampa Bay needs to find a true No. 1 running back to pair with White. White is developing into a good pass-catching threat out of the backfield, but he doesn’t look like a true workhorse type of back.
This is going to be needed regardless of what happens with Mike Evans. That’s because even if Evans returns to a new contract like everyone hopes, he will be 31 next season. Additionally, Chris Godwin is in a contract year. Russell Gage Players like Trey Palmer and Deven Tompkins haven’t necessarily proven themselves, with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in training camp this year with no prospect of return.
The Bucs will need to be aggressive at the receiver position, as it seems unlikely they will be able to retain both Evans and Godwin going forward. If Evans has 2024 remaining on his new contract, that would likely result in Godwin being moved elsewhere in 2025. Even if Evans doesn’t re-sign and Godwin signs a third contract with Tampa Bay, Godwin would still be the only one at the top of the depth chart in the receiver room.
Whatever the scenario, Tampa Bay needs young, high-end talent in the receiving corps to serve as a new wave after years of generational production from the duo of Evans and Godwin. That’s what I mean. It will be difficult for the Bucs to find a pairing like that right away, but whoever their quarterback is after 2024 may need to use at least a Day 2 pick to fill the position next year. unknown.
How this will change in the future: This situation is unlikely to change, as the Bucks don’t have much depth at this position. The only way this will be taken off the priority list is if Palmer, or perhaps Rakim Jarrett, emerges as a viable No. 3 receiver. From what I’ve seen so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The start of the offseason will be interesting at this position, as decisions need to be made on both Evans and Gage. What happens there will determine how urgent the need for a receiver becomes come free agency and draft time.
Matt Feiler was always going to play a makeshift role at left guard this season, even if he played at a high level. He arrived on a one-year deal to fill that role as the Bucs strengthen the rest of their offensive line. And given the fact that he should (and likely will) remain on the bench due to Aaron Stinney recovering from a knee injury, Feiler won’t be back in 2024 — at least not as a starting option. .
The good news for Tampa Bay is that the rest of the offensive line is likely set for 2024, with contract years starting with Tristan Wirfs at left tackle, Luke Gedeke at right tackle, Cody Mauch at right guard, and Robert at center.・Hainsey will be appointed.
This means that while it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bucs bring in a new center to challenge Hainsey next year, there is likely only one position to fill on the offensive starting line. The Bucs have invested heavily in their offensive line through the draft in recent years and may continue to do so in the future, so it will be interesting to see how they choose to address that need.
How this will change in the future: A left guard will definitely be needed, but one thing that could change over the final nine games is whether or not a right guard is needed. Mauch could realistically move to center in the future, which would leave a hole at his position. Now, Hainsey still has one year left on his rookie contract, so a rookie position change may not be on the cards this offseason.
But if Hainsey proves to be a below-average center for the rest of the game, and the team doesn’t feel comfortable having him as the anchor of the offensive line next year, there will likely be two needs on the offensive line. .
Check back on Sunday for a preview of Tampa Bay’s defensive needs in 2024.