One of our Bucsblitz.com message board posters said it best — finding out what players would be good fits for Tampa Bay via trade is only one half of the equation.
Earlier this week Scout.com Senior NFL Reporter Adam Caplan outlined four players on other teams that would be good fits for Tampa Bay via trade. Just click here to read the first part of this series.
But the second half of this equation is what the Buccaneers would be able to give up to acquire one of those players. Draft picks are just one part of the equation. The Buccaneers, with only five draft choices this year, would likely have to throw in a player or two in order to close the deal.
But who? I put that question to Caplan, one of the most well-connected football people I know. His evaluation of the Buccaneers' most marketable players follows:
WR Maurice Stovall — For some reason, head coach Jon Gruden won't give him much of a chance to get into the receiver rotation. Instead, Stovall has been languishing mostly on the bench and on special teams.
But Stovall was highly touted coming out of college and he has plenty of talent. Since there are plenty of teams that are still looking for receivers with upside, Stovall could have some value in the trade market and could yield as high as a third-round pick.
QB Chris Simms — There are reports that he's now 100 percent or close to it and if he is, Simms certainly could attract some attention. While he hasn't played since the third week of the 2006 season, Simms is a talented signal caller who has good upside.
He has only one year left on his contract with a base salary of $2 million so that shouldn't be a prohibitive factor in a trade. He could yield as high as a third-round pick.
WR Michael Clayton — After a stellar rookie season, Clayton's role with the team has plummeted. In fact, some wonder why he hasn't been released yet. He's had his share of injuries (knee, shoulder) but Clayton also just might need a change of scenery.
He's a big bodied receiver who runs well after the catch so he could attract some attention from teams that a West Coast offense. He could yield possibly a third or fourth-round pick and Clayton has two years left on his contract with base salaries of $2 million (2008) and $1 million (2009).
Postins' take: I couldn't agree with Caplan more on this one. I took an objective look at the roster last night and those were my top three choices too. The upside is obvious. They're all young players that can still play their way into starring or key supporting roles in the NFL and their salaries not cost-prohibitive. Plus, none of them figure to see any real playing time in Tampa Bay in 2008, especially Simms. Most teams, however, will likely wait until the Bucs release Simms — which seems likely — instead of dealing for him. Any team's desire to get Simms would be much like Tampa Bay's desire to get Brian Griese in trade.
I did come up with a couple of more potential choices, though. Strong safety Jermaine Phillips is a marketable player now, coming off an above-average season in 2007. He's in the final year of his contract and he'll only count $2.587 million against anyone's salary cap. There are rumblings the Bucs will extend Phillips' contract — like they did in 2004 — but it's also as likely they'll let his contract lapse and had the job over to second-year pro Sabby Piscitelli in 2009.
The other is Jake Plummer, though his contract is much more cost-prohibitive and he would be much harder to deal. Plus, Plummer has to assure whichever team the Bucs trade him to that he'll play in 2008. There are a few teams that would surely take a look at Plummer if they knew the QB was willing to return (hello, Green Bay?). But the Buccaneers have to do something about this situation. Plummer either has to file his retirement papers so his cap number can be reduced or the Bucs have to take the cap hit and release him. At this point, the longer he stays on the roster the more embarrassing it is to the franchise. I mean, they're going to pay Plummer $6.2 million in 2008 to hike in the mountains? C'mon.
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Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.