DK Metcalf has been rumored to be available for trade ever since John Schneider expressed concern over the exploding wide receiver market at the NFL Owners Meetings in Palm Beach. Schneider notably said it is the team’s “intent” to extend Metcalf, a phrase the Seahawks organization used as it related to Russell Wilson before shipping him off to Denver earlier this month.
While speculation around Metcalf has centered around the two teams that just traded their cornerstone wide receivers (Green Bay and Kansas City) and even the team that most publicly struck out on one of those (the Jets), the team that should most aggressively pursue Metcalf should he become available actually has among the most resources in the league tied up in the wide receiver position already: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Need to Trade For DK Metcalf
On the surface, Metcalf might seem like a luxury move for the Buccaneers. A team with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin coughing up a first round pick (and likely more) for a receiver on an expiring contract seems absurd. This rings especially true when one considers they already doled out $20 million in guaranteed money to Russell Gage this offseason and have potentially promising depth players in Cyril Grayson, Scotty Miller, Tyler Johnson, and Jaelon Darden, not to mention Breshad Perriman coming back on a veteran minimum contract to compete for a roster spot.
Conventional, surface-level thinking leads us to that conclusion. But let’s face it. This is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Think back to the past two years; when has conventional thinking ever applied to this football team? When they coaxed Tom Brady away from the Patriots? Rob Gronkowski from retirement? Antonio Brown from the asylum? When they went from 9-5 to 14-5 with confetti falling on their heads? When Antonio Brown jumping jacked his way off of MetLife Stadium, shirtless? How about when Tom Brady retired and unretired in 40 days? When Bruce Arians resigned two hours before I started writing this?
The Bucs are weird. They are, quite possibly, the weirdest team of all time. They have a 45-year-old quarterback who happens to be better at the position than anyone in the world (if not that, there are maybe three guys better than him). Conventional thinking doesn’t apply to them. Conventional thinking doesn’t apply to him. Throw it out the window.
The Importance of Wide Receivers
Beyond the weirdness of the Bucs, Metcalf makes sense for them on a pure football level. Yes, a cursory look at their wide receiver depth chart may lead one to conclude that they are well-stocked at the position for this coming season. However, it only takes a look back to last year to reveal what can happen to Tampa Bay’s offense in the event of an injury to Evans or Godwin. Once Godwin was lost for the season and Brown went cuckoo, Brady was left with no one reliable to throw to outside of Evans.
Those nice depth players mentioned above? Johnson was never in the right place. The coaches seemed to take every chance they could to get Miller off the field; they viewed him as a diminutive one-trick-pony vertical threat. Grayson flashed, but he couldn’t stay healthy, and what does it say that he spent the entire season on the practice squad before being pressed into action in Week 16?
Perriman has bounced around the league for years; expecting him to tap into the magic he showed in the last month of 2019 (and only the last month of 2019) without Evans and Godwin is probably a fool’s errand. Darden had an entire season to flash something, anything: his only memorable play was a drop that led directly to a Brady interception.
Great hit and interception!
Washington forces the Tom Brady turnover 😳
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 14, 2021
Counting on any major improvement from those depth pieces would be foolhardy. It would also be irresponsible. Tampa Bay’s offense runs through the wide receiver position. Rob Gronkowski made a joke during his first days in Tampa Bay that he was brought there to block. He has of course done much more than that, but an element of this still rings true: Tampa’s offense doesn’t ask much of their tight ends and backs in the passing game, namely because of how heavily they lean on their receivers. And if they’re going to lean on them as heavily as they have in recent years, it would behoove them to have not two, but three, great ones.
DK Metcalf: The Missing Piece
Which brings us to Metcalf. Metcalf elevates the players around him. In Tampa Bay, he would step in and instantly help Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (not to mention Tom Brady), much in the same way Antonio Brown did. Metcalf would pair with Evans to create the league’s most imposing pair of boundary wide receivers, coupled with an absolute wrecking ball in Godwin in the slot and a versatile inside/outside technician in Gage who would likely still have a significant role as the team’s number four receiver.
The beauty of Metcalf in pewter is that he elevates the players around him in a perfect world, but he also provides insurance for them in the case of a catastrophe. If everyone stays healthy, a quartet of Evans, Godwin, Metcalf, and Gage would have historic potential. But, God forbid, an identical scenario plays out in 2022 as it did in 2021, with one of Tampa Bay’s Big 2 going down near the end of the season. With Metcalf on the team, Tampa Bay maintains an elite wide receiver duo (and trio, counting Gage), keeping their identity in check for the stretch run.
It’s a team building philosophy akin to that of an NBA Big Three; yes, Tampa Bay might lose some depth elsewhere by trading for Metcalf, but its strength is so overwhelming with him, Evans, and Godwin in the lineup that the loss of depth is worth it, and his presence is actually somewhat insular as it relates to injury. It protects what makes Tampa Bay Tampa Bay: its offense. That is what will carry them in the playoffs. And this offseason should be all about that– these playoffs.
Buccaneers Front Office Wants A Receiver
The best part is… Jason Licht might agree with me! Sort of. The Bucs have had pre-draft visits with Chris Olave and Treylon Burks. Why not turn that 27th overall pick you would have to use on one of those guys into DK Metcalf, Jason? You wouldn’t even have to extend him! There’s precedent for this! The Chiefs traded for Orlando Brown last year, when he was in the last year of his rookie contract, and they didn’t extend him.
In case the Bucs see a problem with committing long-term money to three receivers, they can simply trade for DK Metcalf this year, pay a slight premium, franchise tag him next offseason, and trade him to the highest bidder at that time. Sure, the draft capital will come out to net a slight loss, but it will have been for a season of DK Metcalf during Tom Brady’s age 45 season. You do that 11/10 times.
Tom Brady is about to be 45. There is no time to waste. Tampa Bay should make the call and trade for DK Metcalf (or at the very least, someone of his ilk).
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