PFF Analyst Suggests Possible Free Agent Guards For Bucs - Sport News

PFF Analyst Suggests Possible Free Agent Guards For Bucs

In addition to re-signing some of their own, the Bucs will look to add external talent during the offseason to help improve a roster that won the NFC South before eventually losing in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. There are several areas that could use an infusion of talent. Interior offensive line is one of those areas. So, it comes as no surprise that Pro Football Focus cap analyst Brad Spielberger noted the Bucs could be a landing spot for several pending free agent guards in a recent article.

PFF Analyst Suggests Possible Free Agent Guards For Bucs

Bucs Could Look To Free Agency For Veteran Guard
Spielberger highlighted three guards who could make their way to Tampa Bay to slot into the left guard spot next to Pro Bowl left tackle Tristan Wirfs: Minnesota’s Dalton Risner, Seattle’s Damien Lewis and Detroit’s Jonah Jackson.

Spielberger’s reasoning centers around the concept that the Bucs could use an upgrade over pending free agent Aaron Stinnie, who started the year as a backup but took over the starting job from Matt Feiler midway through the season. Both Stinnie and Feiler struggled at times in 2023 and were part of the reason why most pressures that quarterback Baker Mayfield faced came from up the middle.

Here is a snippet from Spielberger’s article, where he addresses Risner specifically:

“The Buccaneers are set at both tackle spots and have some promising young pieces in right guard Cody Mauch and center Robert Hainsey, but eliminating any weak links from a young and currently very cheap unit could go a long way. Baker Mayfield improved against pressure in 2023, but lowering the amount of interior pressure he faces would be huge for his continued growth in the offense.”

Bucs May Look To Address Multiple Spots on The Line
Left guard was not the only spot that had issues throughout the year. On the opposite side, rookie right guard Cody Mauch experienced ups and downs. His overall grade from PFF (including the playoffs) for the year was 43.9, which ranked 47th among 56 qualifying guards. He recorded a 37.6 run block grade and 52.1 pass block grade.

But Mauch had reason to struggle beyond just being a rookie. He was switching positions (tackle to guard), sides (left to right) and levels of competition (FCS to NFL). With a full offseason to work at his craft and add mass, there is a good chance Mauch will make a considerable jump in play in year two.

Center was also an inconsistent position for the Bucs offense as backup Robert Hainsey was thrust into a starting role for the second year in a row during training camp. This was due to starting center Ryan Jensen being placed on injured reserve once again due to an ailing knee. The former Pro Bowl center recently retired, so the future of the center position in Tampa Bay is up in the air.

Hainsey ranked 16th among qualifying centers with a PFF grade of 50.2. He struggled with bigger, more powerful defensive tackles, which is a common theme for centers in the NFL as that is usually a prerequisite for defenders who line up at nose tackle across from the center.

With Stinnie set to hit free agency, it isn’t out of the question that the Bucs may want to address both the guard and center spots, possibly securing a free agent for one spot while finding the second through the NFL Draft in April. Whether they target guard in free agency and center in the draft or vice-versa remains to be seen. But it is a good bet that you will hear Tampa Bay attached to several interior offensive linemen when free agency opens on March 13th.

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