Draft Picks: WR Mike Evans, TE Austin-Seferian Jenkins, RB Charles Sims, G Kadeem Edwards, T Kevin Pamphile, WR Robert Herron
Veteran Additions: QB Josh McCown, C Evan Dietrich-Smith, T Anthony Collins, TE Brandon Myers, G Oniel Cousins, WR Louis Murphy, DE Michael Johnson, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Alterraun Verner, CB Mike Jenkins, S Major Wright, ILB Dane Fletcher
Veteran Losses: CB Darrelle Revis, WR Mike Williams, WR Tiquan Underwood, G Davin Joseph, T Donald Penn, FB Erik Lorig, OLB Dekoda Watson, C Ted Larsen, QB Dan Orlovsky, G Gabe Carimi, OLB Adam Hayward
The Buccaneers started 0-8 as they endured problems at quarterback. Josh Freeman was released in October, and Mike Glennon took over under center. He showed promising signs, but the Buccaneers struggled to a 4-12 record. Head coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik were both fired for the Buccaneers having their third consecutive losing season.
Although Glennon showed potential as a future starter, he will not likely resume his role since Josh McCown was signed to a two-year, $10 million deal. This will give Glennon valuable time to learn the offense though, and he may become the Buccaneers' starter once again after McCown's contract expires.
McCown shined for the Bears last season, throwing 13 touchdown passes against one interception in six starts. He had a 109.0 quarterback rating, and the Buccaneers will have gotten a steal if he can keep up this kind of production. He benefitted from having a prolific offense in Chicago, and he figures to have one again in Tampa Bay.
Doug Martin will return healthy and resume as the Buccaneers' starting running back. He missed most of last season with a torn labrum after totaling nearly 2,000 yards in his rookie season. He is a receiving threat in addition to being one of the best running backs in the NFL when healthy.
Mike James and Bobby Rainey proved to be capable backups while filling in for Martin, and they both have starter potential. James rushed for 158 yards against the vaunted Seattle Seahawks defense, and Rainey rushed for over 100 yards in a couple of games.
Charles Sims was taken in the third round of the draft, and this was a head-scratching move since the Buccaneers were already deep at running back. The coaching staff seems to be excited about him as an all-around weapon though.
Jorvorskie Lane will take over as the Buccaneers' starting fullback after leaving the Miami Dolphins, and he provides a great blocking presence for the Buccaneers.
In addition to having plenty of options to hand the ball off to, McCown will have plenty of weapons to throw to. Vincent Jackson will continue to be the Buccaneers' No. 1 receiver. He has been consistently above average despite not having a great quarterback to throw to him since he had Philip Rivers in San Diego.
He finished with over 1,000 yards in his fifth consecutive full season. Despite struggling with drops at times, he finished with 78 receptions, 1,224 yards and seven touchdowns. Mike Evans was drafted with the seventh overall pick, and he is projected to start right away. Evans finished with 69 catches, 1,394 yards and 12 touchdown receptions in his junior season at Texas A&M. He and Jackson have the potential to be the most dangerous receiving duo in the NFL, but depth is still questionable.
Louis Murphy and Lavelle Hawkins were signed to provide depth at wide receiver, and sixth-round draft pick Robert Herron may make an immediate impact for the Buccaneers. Jeff Demps may move to receiver since there is a logjam at running back, and he is expected to possibly become the return man.
The tight end position figures to provide McCown sufficient weapons as well. Austin Seferian-Jenkins was taken in the second round of the draft. He provides a red-zone threat for the Buccaneers after catching 21 touchdown passes in three seasons at Washington. He is also an excellent blocking tight end.
Brandon Myers was signed in free agency after not clicking with Eli Manning in his one season with the New York Giants. Tim Wright had an impressive rookie season after signing as an undrafted free agent. He caught 54 passes and had 571 receiving yards and five touchdowns.
Offensive line is expected to become a position of strength for the Buccaneers after going through major changes. It starts with left tackle Anthony Collins providing an upgrade over Donald Penn, who left for the Oakland Raiders. Left guard Carl Nicks has battled injuries since joining the Buccaneers, but he can still be a solid contributor when healthy.
Evan Dietrich-Smith left the Green Bay Packers to sign a four-year, $14.25 million deal in Tampa Bay. He emerged as one of the top centers in the league last season and should provide an immediate upgrade over Jeremy Zuttah. Right guard is still a questionable area on the offensive line though. Patrick Omemeh and Jamon Meredith will compete for the starting spot.
While neither of them are spectacular, they should benefit from having skilled blockers around them. Demar Dotson will start at right tackle again after enjoying a breakout season. He finished as one of the top right tackles in the NFL, and he will look to repeat his production. Depth will be a plus for the Buccaneers as well since they drafted Kadeem Edwards and Kevin Pamphile.
The Buccaneers were mediocre on defense last season, but they made some major upgrades that could potentially make it a top-10 unit.
They started by signing defensive end Michael Johnson to a five-year, $43 million deal. Johnson will provide another great run-stuffing presence on the Buccaneers' defensive line, and he can be a great pass rusher too. He posted 11.5 sacks in 2012. Starting opposite Johnson will be Adrian Clayborn, who has been a solid run defender. He hasn't been the superstar that the Buccaneers were hoping for after they drafted him in the first round, but he does moderately well at getting to the quarterback.
Da'Quan Bowers is reportedly in danger of being cut since he has failed to impress the coaching staff this offseason. He has been a massive disappointment for the Buccaneers since being considered a draft steal in 2011. William Gholston is a breakout candidate as he enters his second season, and Steven Means will also look to increase his playing time at defensive end.
Gerald McCoy will return as a starting defensive tackle for his fifth season. He enjoyed his best season and registered 9.5 sacks. He is arguably the best defensive tackle in the league since he can also stuff the run. He wll be even more threatening in 2014 since he will have Clinton McDonald starting at the other defensive tackle spot.
McDonald played a role in the Seattle Seahawks' Super Bowl run by breaking out with the first 5.5 sacks of his career. He completes what will be one of the most dangerous defensive lines in the NFL. Akeem Spence and Matthew Masifilo provide depth at defensive tackle.
The linebacker corps will be intimidating as well with Lavonte David primed to emerge as one of the NFL's biggest stars and as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He finished last season with 144 tackles, six sacks and five interceptions. He will man the weak side as Mason Foster continues as the middle linebacker. He also posted impressive numbers which included 92 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions. He will need to improve his discipline though, which showed when he missed 21 tackles.
Jonathan Casillas and Dane Fletcher will compete for the strongside linebacker job. Nate Askew may jump into the equation at linebacker as well. He will likely be a special teams contributor if he makes the team.
Even though Darrelle Revis was traded away, cornerback Alterraun Verner was signed in his place. The Buccaneers gave him a four-year, $26.5 million contract. This was a bargain considering he was one of the best cover corners in the league last season.
Johnthan Banks will start opposite Verner, and he will look to make a jump in his second year after enduring rookie struggles. He showed potential at the same time though. Mike Jenkins will be the third cornerback for the Buccaneers, and he should thrive in that role even though he has struggled as a starting corner throughout his career. Leonard Johnson has two years of experience in Tampa Bay, and he will stick around as a reliable backup.
Safety figures to be stronger for the Buccaneers as well. Dashon Goldson will return for his second season as the Buccaneers' starting free safety. After being signed away from the San Francisco 49ers, Goldson had a disappointing 2013 season. He will be out until training camp due to ankle surgery. The talent is still there though, and new head coach Lovie Smith should be able to bring out his potential better than Schiano was able to. He is a hard hitter, but his aggressive style of play leaves him prone to missing tackles.
Mark Barron will be the starting strong safety. He posted another 88 tackles in his second season. Like Goldson, he is an aggressive safety, but his coverage skills need improvement. Major Wright will be the Buccaneers' top reserve safety after signing a one-year deal, and he will provide quality depth despite struggling as a starter in Chicago. Keith Tandy will also return as a reserve after making spot starts last season. Although he isn't as physically gifted as Goldson or Barron, he has discipline and solid coverage skills.
Connor Barth missed last season with a torn Achilles tendon, but he will return as the Buccaneers' kicker. He is the franchise's all-time leader in field goal percentage. Rian Lindell struggled in Barth's place. In addition to accuracy, Barth has incredible leg strength. He made nine field goals of 50 yards or longer in 2012, including a 57-yarder.
Michael Koenen finished 25th in punting average last season, so undrafted free agent Kirby Van Der Kamp may beat him out for the starting punter job.
The Buccaneers are quietly building a contender, but it remains to be seen whether McCown can duplicate his stats with the Bears over a full season. He will have plenty of weapons to throw to though, and every running back on the roster can keep the opposing defenses honest.
The defense is slowly becoming one of the top units in the NFL, and the hiring of Smith should help them reach their potential since he is a widely-regarded defensive guru.
Having pieces such as McCoy and David on the defense is already a great start, and the signings of Johnson and Verner will make it even more powerful.
The Buccaneers have a relatively difficult schedule. They will have to face the AFC North and NFC North in addition to playing the Saints and Falcons twice. The NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL and would possibly be the toughest if it weren't for the NFC West.
Schiano's firing and free agent signings will make the team better, but it will be difficult for the results to show right away considering the tough division the Buccaneers play in.
Projected Record: 6-10