Gruden is believed to be hedging on adding a top-quality wide receiver opposite Michael Clayton. Southern Cal's Mike Williams is being mentioned around One Buc Place as a potential star receiver who could provide quarterback Brian Griese another viable option in the passing game.
While adding weapons to an offense that has struggled over the past two seasons is a priority, the Buccaneers must address the offensive line at some point. There is little depth at the tackle positions behind starters Derrick Deese and Kenyatta Walker, and the guard spots are in need of an influx of talent. Starting right guard Cosey Coleman left for Cleveland in free agency and starting left guard Matt Stinchcomb was inconsistent last season. Also, Matt O'Dwyer signed with Green Bay.
Due to salary-cap limitations, the Buccaneers were unable to make any true impact signings in free agency. However, they were able to add tight end Anthony Becht and defensive tackle Chris Hovan and retain wide receiver Joey Galloway and linebacker Ryan Nece. Galloway and Nece could play critical roles in 2005.
Running back – The Buccaneers lack a dependable starter. Veteran Charlie Garner is yet again coming off knee surgery, and 2004 starter Michael Pittman is a better option catching passes out of the backfield. With the fifth overall pick, the Buccaneers are in position to choose one of the draft's better backs (Ronnie Brown, Carnell Williams or Cedric Benson). Gruden coached Williams in the Senior Bowl and really likes his combination of size, speed and power.
Offensive line – Depth is a significant issue. The departure of Cosey Coleman in free agency leaves a void at right guard. Behind starting tackles Derrick Deese and Kenyatta Walker, there is very little quality and depth, especially if veteran Todd Steussie does not return. Look for the Buccaneers to add some youth at the draft and add a lineman or two before training camp.
Wide receiver – Finding a receiver to team with Michael Clayton could be a draft priority. Veteran Joey Galloway has been injury prone in recent seasons and the depth at this position is questionable at best.
FREE AGENCY AND OFFSEASON
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
PLAYERS LOST: LB Keith Burns (Broncos), OG Cosey Coleman (Browns), DT Chartric Darby (Seahawks), CB Mario Edwards (released), LB Ian Gold (released), QB Brad Johnson (released), WR Joe Jurevicius (released), OG Matt O'Dwyer (Packers), S Dwight Smith (Saints).