The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are spending money like the world's about to end. My Oh Mayan.
With the news that the Bucs have now signed guard Carl Nicks, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and cornerback Eric Wright, one can expect that Tampa Bay might be ready to move on from their disastrous 2011 season and compete again in 2012. New head coach Greg Schiano already has a few exciting upgrades to the league's youngest team and new offensive coordinator Ron Turner can sleep well tonight knowing that he's got perhaps the league's best guard and a true number one wideout.
Perhaps now, so can Josh Freeman.
The young quarterback struggled mightily in his third season, throwing 22 interceptions against only 16 touchdowns and just 6.5 yards per attempt. This came after a 25 TD/6 INT season with 7.3 yards per attempt. One couldn't expect Freeman to throw six interceptions every year, just like they couldn't expect him to repeat 22 of them, but adding Jackson gives Freeman the best weapon he's ever had.
I watched the Chargers-Dolphins week four game last night and I came away with the same reaction that I always have when I watch Jackson play... "How the hell does he make those catches?" V-Jax has an uncanny ability to maintain body control while in the air and perhaps as good a set of hands as anyone in the NFL. He sort of reminds me of Wes Welker on the catch, except that he's actually got prototypical size for a premiere wide receiver.
Over his last four seasons, Jackson has averaged 18 yards per reception with 28 touchdowns in 52 games. Though there have always been questions about his attitude, there shouldn't be any question that Jackson is a Pro Bowl receiver in every sense of the word and gives Freeman a number one option.
The addition of Nicks at guard gives Freeman and LeGarrette Blount a two-time All-Pro player on the offensive line and also takes him away from the division rival Saints. The addition of Eric Wright at corner, and possibly an excellent middle linebacker like Curtis Lofton, may not directly affect the offense but you have to consider that the better your defense is, the more time your offense will have on the field. Wright may not be perfect, but he's an upgrade for Tampa.
More news after the jump...
- Tampa Bay was $45 million under the cap and wasted no time spending it and spending it wisely. Rumors have it that they could part ways with Kellen Winslow Jr., C Jeff Faine, and CB Aqib Talib. They've addressed three of their biggest needs, allowing them to move on from Faine and Talib, and it's believed that they'll also be interested in TE John Carlson (edit: Carlson rumored to Vikings) and a linebacker like Lofton or David Hawthorne.
- Brandon Marshall was traded to the Chicago Bears for two third round picks, which seems like a steal of a deal. Until the news reports this morning that the former Dolphin allegedly punched a woman in the eye at a night club early on Sunday, on her birthday. It's too quick to make judgments on the validity of these allegations, but it wouldn't be the first time that Marshall did something wrong. No word yet on if he actually said "Happy Birthday!" before using the Tiger uppercut.
- Calvin Johnson signed a 7-year, $132 million extension with $60 million guaranteed, the largest contract in NFL history. Considering he's the best player in the league, it's well worth it to give Megatron a Mega-con.
- Peyton Manning could make a decision at any time now. He's meeting with the Titans today, despite the fact that Tennessee, you know... just drafted Jake Locker. For those of you waiting on the Locker bandwagon, Manning signing for the Titans would be a bad thing. For those of you hopeful on Manning, would it be better for him to be a Bronco or a Titan? Tennessee does have Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Jared Cook, Chris Johnson and Damian Williams. Denver has Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas.... Knowshon Moreno? Okay then....
- He won't have Reggie Wayne, who surprisingly re-signed with the Colts.
- Mario Williams officially got his "starting point contract" from the Bills, so now he can go sign it for a team that he actually wants to play for.