The Tampa Bay Buccaneers swung yet another deal over the weekend. They may have landed a swing lineman in the process.
The latest deal engineered by General Manager Mark Dominik brings third-year offensive tackle Gabe Carimi to Tampa from the Chicago Bears in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Carimi entered the NFL as a first-round selection, number 29 overall, by the Bears just two years ago, in the 2011 draft.
The trade was not officially completed until after Carimi passed a physical at One Buccaneer Place on Monday afternoon. To make room on the 90-man offseason roster, the Buccaneers released rookie tackle Nick Speller.
The 6-7, 316-pound Carimi has started 16 of the 18 games in which he has played over his first two NFL seasons, opening 14 contests last season between right tackle and right guard. He opened his rookie campaign as the Bears' starting right tackle but saw his season end after just two games due to a knee injury suffered against the New Orleans Saints.
Carimi instantly adds valuable depth to the Buccaneers' offensive line, which does return both of last year's starters at tackle, with Donald Penn on the left side and Demar Dotson on the right. Given his starting experience, his versatility and his proven talent, Carimi would seem to be, at the least, a strong candidate for a "swing" role in which he could back up several positions.
"[Carimi's addition] provides competition, which is our favorite word," said Dominik. "It provides competition at right tackle, no doubt about it. It also adds a lot of depth at our team and provides a guy that can play inside at guard, which he did last year. If you just throw him into the group of guys that made it last year, it gives you incredible depth on the offensive line. It provides competition and depth at tackle, which is critical."
Dominik has proved again in 2013 that he can adeptly use the trade option to bolster the Buccaneers' roster and/or its draft-day assets. Earlier this offseason he shipped a 2013 first-round pick and a 2014 conditional pick to the New York Jets to acquire Darrelle Revis, widely considered the NFL's best cornerback, to continue a dramatic reshaping of the team's secondary. The Bucs also traded wide receiver Arrelious Benn (to Philadelphia) and running back LeGarrette Blount (to New England) to gain picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. In addition, Dominik once again used those assets to trade up and down during the draft to target and acquire specific players, something he did to great effect a year ago in landing Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David.
Carimi could be the next valuable addition, particularly if he takes well to a reunion with his college position coach. Bob Bostad, heading into his second season as the Buccaneers' offensive line coach, held the same position at Wisconsin during Carimi's collegiate career. Carimi was a starter for all four of his seasons in Madison and, as a senior in 2010, he won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top college offensive lineman.
"We're just looking for him to come in here and compete, do what he did for me for four years at Wisconsin, come out there and be physical, tough and a smart football player," said Bostad. "I'm definitely excited about it, to have a guy that you have a history with, you've worked with him, you've trained him. I'm really excited about it.
"The word that comes to my mind is 'compete.' You make us put you on the field. That will solve a lot of our problems, anywhere across the board. I know everybody's excited and everybody's ready to get started, and just adding one more element to that would really help us out. Our group has taken some hits, and I think for all of our guys this is a welcome sight."