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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Point-Counterpoint: Steal a Player from an NFC South Foe

Who would you nab from another team in the Bucs' division if you wanted to make Tampa Bay's roster stronger in 2024 while also weakening one of its main opponents? Scott Smith and Brianna Dix have a couple suggestions


The United States of America declared its independence on July 4, 1776, stating that the Thirteen Colonies were no longer subject to British rule. In that spirit, today, we're going to (hypothetically) liberate a player from another roster in the NFC South.

Okay, that's a stretch, but this is our annual Fourth of July week Point-Counterpoint series and we're sticking to the theme. After discussing the Tampa Bay Buccaneer players we expect to take the biggest leap forward on Monday, we are now going to engage in a little theoretical exercise that, if it were to become reality, would help the Buccaneers the most in 2024 while also dealing a significant blow to one of the team's division opponents. Specifically, if we had the power to steal one player from another team's roster in the NFC South for the point of helping the Bucs the most this season, who would that be?

Here is the full schedule for this week's Point-Counterpoint series:

Monday, July 1: Which Buccaneer will make the biggest leap in 2024?
Tuesday, July 2: What player would you steal from another NFC South roster?
Wednesday, July 3: What headline would you like to read at the end of the preseason?
Thursday, July 4: What specific statistical goal would you like to see the Bucs achieve in 2024?
Friday, July 5: Which Buccaneer will have the most surprising statistical accomplishment in 2024?

There are plenty of players on the Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans rosters that any team would love to have, from Panthers defensive tackle Derrick Brown to Saints wide receiver Chris Olave to Falcons running back Bijan Robinson. However, we have to take the Buccaneers' current roster in account when making our choices. For instance, new Falcons quarterback Kirk Cousins has had a lot of success in his career, but you can only play one quarterback at a time and the Buccaneers are already very happy with Baker Mayfield at that spot. Ideally, our choices should be players who can help right away within the Bucs' existing framework and, hopefully, also hurt the teams that are losing them.

Who's at the top of our list of intra-division thievery? Team Writer/Reporter Brianna Dix and I will each make one suggestion. Since we will not be allowed to duplicate answers, the order in which we choose is important, and it's my turn to go first.

Scott Smith: Guard Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons

First, I made a wish list of my top candidates, because it's always a good idea for a thief to put his plans down in writing. Then I narrowed it down to my top three candidates: New Orleans linebacker Demario Davis, Atlanta guard Chris Lindstrom and Carolina outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney.

I really wanted to find a stud edge rusher to punch up the Bucs' outside pass rush rotation, but the NFC South isn't exactly loaded at that position, especially with the Saints' Cameron Jordan entering the twilight of his career. Clowney just arrived in Charlotte and he hasn't quite been the sack monster the league was expecting when he went first overall in the 2014 draft, but he's coming off one of his best seasons yet with the Ravens in 2023. Still, I'm not sure I want to gamble that the Bucs will get the same player in 2024.

Meanwhile, Davis is simply one of the NFL's best off-ball linebackers year after year, a player who makes a huge impact at all levels and can tackle, cover and rush the passer. He could form quite a tandem of ageless wonders in the middle of the Bucs' defense with Lavonte David, and this exercise is only about 2024, so I don't have to worry as much that Davis is 35. On the other hand, I feel like K.J. Britt has earned his shot and I'm intrigued to see what he can do as a full-time starter.

So I'm going with Lindstrom. I know a guard isn't the sexiest pick in the world, but keep in mind that new Bucs Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen is intent on reviving Tampa Bay's rushing attack, so we should be looking for as many talented blockers as we can get. And Lindstrom very much fits that bill. In fact, you could argue that Lindstrom is the best guard in the NFL. Pro Football Focus made that very argument just last month.

Assuming that first-round rookie Graham Barton is going to lock down the center position, there is one spot open on the Bucs' starting offensive line, and that's left guard. Aaron Stinnie and Matt Feiler split that position in 2023, but Stinnie is now with the Giants and Feiler is not currently on an NFL roster. The Buccaneers did sign two potential starting candidates in former Giant Ben Bredeson and former Eagle Sua Opeta, and I think they are confident one of those two will prove to be a good fit at left guard. Robert Hainsey, last year's starting center, could be in the mix as well.

So there are viable options on hand, but that doesn't mean the Bucs would turn away Lindstrom if he was somehow available. It's true that Lindstrom has played right guard through his first five seasons, but I believe either he or current starting right guard Cody Mauch could make the switch to the other side. Lindstrom has been to each of the last two Pro Bowls and there's a reason why the Falcons made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL in the summer of 2023 (an honor since assumed by the Eagles' Landon Dickerson). PFF calls Lindstrom a "dominant run-blocker," and he was credited with allowing just 15 quarterback pressures last year.

Atlanta has a strong offensive line overall, but losing Lindstrom would weaken that unit considerably. At the same time, it would add one of the best players at his position to a spot the Buccaneers could definitely use a definitive answer for 2024.

Brianna Dix: Linebacker Demario Davis, Saints

Not going to lie, I struggled on this selection. I had it down to running back Bijan Robinson and linebacker Demario Davis. Yes, the Buccaneers finished last in rushing yards the previous two years, but the club drafted Bucky Irving to complement primary workhorse, Rachaad White. I am excited to see what that combination can bring, along with Chase Edmonds. In terms of depth, I like where the Bucs are at, similar to receiver. The acquisition of Sterling Shepard via free agency and Jalen McMillan in the draft bolsters the corps behind Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Trey Palmer. So, without further ado, I picked stalwart Demario Davis. Take that, Saints!

As Scott mentioned above, K.J. Britt has certainly earned a starting role opposite Lavonte David and showcased his prowess against the run in 2023. However, Davis is too good to pass up at the position and Todd Bowles loves to rotate players to keep legs fresh. The esteemed veteran can do it all: Rush the passer, stop the run and drop back in coverage to limit tight ends and running backs. Davis' play recognition is second to none in the NFL and he would help elevate Bowles' pressure-centric defense with his blitz capability. The Buccaneers have spent years focusing on No.56 with their scout team and now with the magic football power of poaching, the Bucs snag Davis from their nemesis. It does not get any better than that!

Like David, Davis showed no signs of regression in 2023. He finished with 6.5 sacks (tied for a career- high) and eclipsed the 100-tackle marker for the seventh consecutive year. He accumulated 11 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for loss and four passes defensed. The versatile chess piece would create arguably the most formidable tandem in the league alongside David in red and pewter.

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