By: Justin Pawlowski
For some fans, the Buccaneers have already done enough to bring you back.
The Buccaneers went out in the first two days of free agency and made the biggest splash of any team in the NFL by spending millions of dollars on Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and Eric Wright. However, even with that money spent, the Buccaneers still have yet to have a successful off-season.
Fans love flash and offense, but the Buccaneers biggest weakness in 2011 came at the linebacker position.
It is at the linebacker position where the tackling was extremely poor, the angles taken were awful, the word “physical” was non-existent, and leadership was a concept no linebacker grasped. This position must be improved for this defense to see success in 2012.
I have written about the inflated asking prices of the top linebackers available, but I also feel the linebacker position must be addressed some time in free agency. Sure, the Buccaneers can also address it in the draft, but it is time to have a voice in the middle of the defense that commands respect.
If the Buccaneers do not want to give in to the high contract demands of the top middle linebackers available, there are still other names on the market that could have an impact.
London Fletcher, 36, is still playing at a very high level and would remind Bucs fans of Hardy Nickerson.
David Hawthorne, 26, is another run-stuffing middle linebacker that might be much cheaper than either Lofton or Tulloch. The concern with Hawthorne is his durability and keeping him on the field.
Jameel McClain, 26, has been Ray Lewis’s backup in Baltimore the past few years, so it will be intriguing to see if he can take what he has learned from one of the all-time greatest middle linebackers to his next team.
Flashy players are great. Spending money is great. However, until the Buccaneers address their biggest weakness, this off-season will still be listed as “incomplete” in my eyes.