Bucs Ask the Experts: Get help at WR?

For the first time, Bucsblitz.com is presenting "Ask the Experts," an occasional feature in which Scout.com experts present their opinions on questions that impact the Buccaneers. Today, Bucs and Scout.com NFL experts debate whether the Buccaneers should take a chance on Plaxico Burress, Brandon Marshall or a free agent WR, or stand pat entering training camp? Great news and opinions are inside.

Should the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign troubled wide receiver Plaxico Burress, trade for Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall, sign a veteran retread such as D.J. Hackett or Drew Bennett, or stand pat with the receivers they have entering training camp. The debate starts below.

ADAM CAPLAN, Scout.com Senior NFL reporter

The problem with signing Burress at this point is that it's not clear when exactly he'll be able to play again due to his legal situation, so it's hard for a team to make any kind of significant commitment to him at this point.

I'd trade for Marshall, who is about as talented as any receiver in the NFL. The contract would have to be structured in such a way that it would be able to protect the team if he got into any further trouble off of the field. Marshall would be a true lead receiver, a role that some question Antonio Bryant can handle long-term.

In the interim, I'd sign Hackett, who is about three years younger than Bennett. Hackett has plenty of talent, but has suffered through some nagging injuries the past few seasons. The Buccaneers are expected to still use the West Coast offense this season although they will use more of a power running game.

TYLER FRAZIER, Bucsblitz.com co-publisher

While adding a standout wide receiver such as Plaxico Burress or Brandon Marshall could help make the Buccaneers one of the most dominant offensive teams in the NFL, the wise thing for Tampa Bay to do would be to stick with the players they currently have.

Many expect the Bucs to struggle this season, and if that is the case they will obviously be rewarded with a top pick in next year's draft. Keep this in mind when people mention that all it will take to acquire Brandon Marshall is a first round pick. I don't mind giving up a first rounder but not a top 10 pick.

As far as Plaxico Burress goes, there isn't a player in the NFL currently who has a bigger warning sign flashing above his head than him. Also, it doesn't help that his agent is none other then Drew Rosenhaus, who will most likely want millions for his client. Did I mention that nobody knows what will happen with Burress' legal problem or a potential suspension by Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Remember at One Buc Place, there is a new head coach and a new general manager trying to find an identity for this team. Burress might not be the best fit for a locker room still looking for team leaders not named Ronde Barber.

Money is not the problem here. Marshall is set to receive just over $2 million in 2009, and the Bucs have plenty to spend. If Marshall was a free agent, it would be one thing, but there is no way the team should trade away a top pick while looking to rebuild.

This is a team that ranked 11th in the league last season for receiving yards, and is bringing all the key receivers back. Sure, there is a new quarterback under center, but there is also a new bulldozer of a running back and a new tight end who many consider to be one of the best in the league at his position.

With the addition of Kellen Winslow, the Bucs already added what they needed in an offensive weapon because everybody knows that a tight end is a quarterback's best friend.

Expect to see Winslow play some receiver since the team is also bringing back tight end Jerramy Stevens. With leading receiver Antonio Bryant signing a one-year franchise tender and Michael Clayton re-signing, the team already has some weapons to play with. Bringing in a new one might hurt more then it could help.

CHRIS STEUBER, Scout.com draft expert

If I were running the Buccaneers, I'd stand pat. I like what they have on the outside with Antonio Bryant and Michael Clayton, and they also have one of the best pass catching tight ends in the league with Kellen Winslow. The Bucs still have hopes for the slow developing Maurice Stovall, and they invested a second-round pick in Dexter Jackson last year. The Bucs have depth at the wide receiver position, but it's unproven and I could see why signing a veteran is an option. But, bringing in a headache like Plaxico Burress or trading for a disgruntled Brandon Marshall won't solve anything in Tampa, and it could even make a promising situation into a detriment in the locker room. Overall, the Bucs have weapons on offense, with or without the signing of another receiver. What it comes down to is the play of Byron Leftwich this season and that will determine the success of the team.

MATTHEW POSTINS, Bucsblitz.com contributor

While there is merit to every argument, I would look into swinging a trade for Marshall.

Sure, the Bucs were 11th in passing last season, and they're bringing back most of their receivers. But consider the Bucs were 16th, 25th and 26th in passing the three seasons before 2008. They have not been a consistent passing team.

The big reason the Bucs' pass offense swelled was Bryant, who had a career year last season and ended up earning the franchise tag tender. But Bryant has never been a consistent threat. Clayton is nothing more than a No. 3 receiver who will have to play as a No. 2. The rest of the corps is way too young, unproven or inconsistent to figure into the equation yet.

Yes, there's Kellen Winslow. And there's Bryant, with a history of inconsistency.

Are you confident now? Not so much.

Marshall is cheap, young and coming off two straight 100-plus catch seasons. Yes, he'll cost you a first-round pick (or, perhaps one of the quarterbacks on the roster and a second round pick, unless you think Kyle Orton will get it done in Denver this year). But snagging a player of Marshall's caliber this early in his career is worth the risk. The Bucs have plenty of cap space and can negotiate a trade contingent upon Marshall signing a long-term deal, which locks in protection for the offense if Bryant can't be re-signed after this season.

Marshall represents the best protection they can get if Bryant falls off from his 2008 season. If Bryant plays at his 2008 level, then Bryant, Marshall and Winslow will give defenses fits all season. If the Bucs had not taken a quarterback in April, I might be reticent to give up the pick. But they won't be involved in the Tebow-McCoy-Bradford derby next year.

Roll the dice for once, Tampa Bay, and take the "ifs" out of the receiving corps.


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