In the coming days, Bucs Central will address the different areas of the Buccaneers offense, defense and special teams by taking a look back on the 2009 campaign and looking forward to the 2010 offseason and beyond. From potential cap casualties, re-signings, free agent signings to draft picks, that could have quite a huge impact on the upcoming season and seasons outside of just 2010. Areas that have already been addressed are quarterbacks and running backs.
The receiving corps, was marred by injuries and inconsistency in 2009. The team had hoped for a far better return on their investment after franchising receiver Antonio Bryant and inking embattled receiver Michael Clayton to a lucrative contract in the offseason. What they got in return fell well short of expectations. The team’s two most consistent receivers were Maurcie Stovall and Sammie Stroughter, when they were inserted into the lineup.
Antonio Bryant — C
A season, in which many had hoped Bryant would live up to the lofty expectations of a franchise type receiver were quickly diminished do to a nagging knee injury that caused Bryant to undergo surgery during training camp. Bryant was more often then not voicing his displeasure with his role in the offense to members of the media, which has ruffled some feather inside One Buc Place and has caused some to questions his motives within the organization. While Bryant’s not a malcontent and has a strong desire to win, his outspoken behavior might not gel with what the team is looking for.
Michael Clayton — F
After the season opener it looked as though Clayton had finally reverted to his rookie form. However, it was short lived. Clayton is an enigma that only has one use and it’s strictly as a blocker, as he offers nothing in the passing game. If he restructures his contract he might stick as the team’s 5th or 6th receiver in 2010, but even that is stretching it a bit.
Maurice Stovall — C
Stovall when given a chance showed exceptional route running and separation for a big receiver, presented him self well as a target while working over the middle. Worth tendering after last season performance, He has the skills to establish himself as a viable candidate for the 2nd or 3rd receiver spot this coming season.
Sammie Stroughter — C
Stroughter showed glimpses of his potential as both a returner and slot receiver before landing on I.R. late in the season. With a season in the NFL under his belt he could develop into a solid number three receiver.
Brian Clark — D
A special teamer with little upside as a receiver, is sparingly used on offense and could be upgraded with either a draft pick or free agent addition in the offseason.
Mark Bradley — Inc
Bradley was a late season pickup after the Chiefs released him, was a player originally drafted by the Bears that had a high ceiling but injuries and inconsistency have derailed his potential in the NFL. Could stick and battle Clayton and Brian Clark for the fifth receiver spot in 2010.
Mario Urrutia — Inc
Urrutia was on the teams practice squad for much of the season, before he was called up late in the year. A tall receiver that’s still developing he could battle for a roster spot in 2010.
Terrence Nunn — Inc
Nunn saw very little action and is viewed as a long term project that might have his dream cut short.
Micheal Spurlock — Inc
Spurlock is strictly a returner that offers very little in the way as a receiving option. He will have a hard time making the roster in 2010 if Clifton Smith returns healthy as the team views Sammie Stroughter as a more then capable returner.
Inconsistent play contributed mightily to a lackluster passing attack. From injuries, to dropped passes when your leading receiver is your tight end, it leaves a lot left to be desired. The team had hoped for far better production and now has to rethink the direction it’s going to go because of the inconsistency showed by its receivers in 2009.
The team has some tuff decisions on the horizon with regards to its receiving corps. Whether thy resign Antonio Bryant or bring back Michael Clayton should not have a bearing on them upgrading the talent in the unit. They must find a legitimate number one receiver that can provide Josh freeman with a security blanket. The overall depth is lacking and the future doesn’t look so bright, an overhaul is sorely needed.
Best Case Scenario
The Bucs deal picks for the Broncos outspoken receiver Brandon Marshall. Draft a receiver in the middle of the draft that has the skills to develop in to a solid number two or even the potential to become a number one receiving option over time. The 2010 NFL draft is loaded with receivers that could upgrade the depth and provide Freeman with solid options in the passing game. Four players the Bucs could have an interest in are Notre Dame WR Golden Tate, Illinois WR Arrelious Benn, Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe and Georgia Tech WR Demaryius Thomas.