When Jason Licht took over as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' new general manager in January of 2014, he inherited a relatively decent haul of picks in the upcoming NFL draft. Tampa Bay was scheduled to pick seventh in the first round, and also had high picks in the second (#38) and third (#69) stanzas. The team's fourth and sixth-round selections were already gone, however as a result of trades made by previous team management for Darrelle Revis and Gabe Carimi. Licht would later fill that sixth-round void by trading wide receiver Mike Williams to Buffalo. In addition, the release of Revis prior to the third day of the new league year kept the fourth-round pick that was sent to the Jets from turning into a third-round pick.
Tampa Bay's first draft under Licht and then-Head Coach Lovie Smith, in May of 2014, started calmly enough. The Bucs stayed put at their first three draft slots and nabbed wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims. The first of those picks has proved to be a home run, the second didn't work out as well as hoped and the third has returned good results when Sims has been healthy.
Photos of the Buccaneers' complete roster.
It's when Tampa Bay got past that empty fourth round that the phone lines in and out of the draft room at One Buccaneer Place began to heat up. In the 17 rounds of drafting that have taken place since, Licht's Buccaneers have been frequent draft trade participants. And it has been all manner of trades – before and during the draft, up and down in the rounds, and in and out of picks.
A deal that earned the Buccaneers an extra fifth-round pick in 2014 kicked it all off, and also happened to work out quite well for Licht and company, as you'll see below. Counting that trade and the swap of Williams to Buffalo, Tampa Bay has made 12 deals involving draft picks in three years under Licht. The Bucs head into this year's draft with all seven of their own selections and nothing more. However, they have a general manager who has shown he is not afraid to wheel and deal when the clock is ticking, and who has been able to successfully work out exchanges with a long list of trade partners.
Below is a trade-by-trade look at all the draft-pick maneuvering the Buccaneers have done since Licht's arrival. Each one is identified as a trade up, down, in or out. A trade up involves giving up assets to turn a lower pick into a higher one. A trade down is the opposite, with the Bucs gaining assets in exchange for moving to a lower spot. A trade in indicates a deal in which a player and/or some other assets are swapped to acquire a new pick. A trade out involves giving up a pick in order to acquire a player.
1. Zuttah Traded to Ravens
Date: March 23, 2014
Trade Partner: Baltimore
Type of Trade: In
Trade Details: Bucs trade veteran guard Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore for a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft
Results: Bucs use pick to draft wide receiver Kenny Bell
When it was all said and done, this deal probably worked out better for the Ravens than the Buccaneers, though the logic on Tampa Bay's side is still evident. During a flurry of free agency moves, the team had reworked its offensive line significantly, adding tackle Anthony Collins and guards Evan Dietrich-Smith (now known as Evan Smith) and Oniel Cousins and releasing tackle Donald Penn. Long-time guard standout Davin Joseph had also been released in early February. Sending Zuttah to the Ravens and picking up future draft capital was part of that overhaul.
The Buccaneers used the fifth-round pick to take Nebraska wide receiver Kenny Bell, in a move that was widely regarded as a steal at the time. However, Bell spent his rookie year on injured reserve and then was waived with an injury settlement prior to last season. Coincidentally, he is now with the Ravens after spending the second half of last season on their practice squad. Zuttah started 41 games for Baltimore over three seasons and was recently traded again, this time to San Francisco.
2. Williams Shipped Out for Late-Round Pick
Date: April 4, 2014
Trade Partner: Buffalo
Type of Trade: In
Trade Details: Bucs trade wide receiver Mike Williams to Bills for a sixth-round pick in the 2014 draft
Results: Bucs use pick to draft wide receiver Robert Herron
The results of this one were about as straightforward as you can get: The Buccaneers traded a wide receiver to get a pick they used to draft a wide receiver.
Of course, neither Williams nor Robert Herron (taken that spring with the 185th overall pick) went on to make much of an impact with their new teams. Williams played in nine games and made eight catches for the Bills in 2014, his final NFL season (at least, to this point). Herron saw action in eight games as a rookie and caught six passes but didn't make the team in 2015. He has since had offseason stints in Miami and Oakland but is not currently on an NFL roster.
3. Extra Fifth Acquired in 2014
Date: May 10, 2014
Trade Partner: Buffalo
Type of Trade: Up
Trade Details: Bucs trade 2014 7th-round pick and 2015 5th-round pick to get an immediate 2014 5th-round selection
Results: Bucs use pick to draft guard Kevin Pamphile
This one feels like a trade "in" but was really a pretty smooth swap upward, and one that has paid off very well.
In addition to the free agency overhaul on the O-Line, the Buccaneers wanted to try to add some potential long-term depth to that unit on the third day of the draft. They used the third pick of the fifth round (their own) to snag Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards, but still had their eyes on Purdue tackle Kevin Pamphile. With their next pick about 40 spots away in the sixth round, the Bucs gave up their fifth-round pick in 2015 to get one in the same round in 2014, throwing in a seventh-round pick to get the deal done with Buffalo.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' safeties.
Both Edwards and Pamphile made the team as rookies, neither seeing much playing time. It is the second of those two picks that has panned out in the long run, though, as a switch to guard has made Pamphile into an NFL starter. He took over the Bucs' left guard spot last year after the retirement of Logan Mankins and is a candidate to start at several different spots again in 2017.
The Bucs gave up a fifth to get a fifth, and generally a similar selection in an earlier year is considered a bit more valuable than one in a later year. That's why Tampa Bay had to include a seventh-rounder to get it done. Buffalo used that seventh-round pick on Florida Atlantic linebacker Randell Johnson, who has made it in the NFL but has played in just 16 games over three seasons with the Bills and Jets. The fifth-rounder shipped to Buffalo for the 2015 draft ended up being the first pick in that round, which was an added bonus for the Bills. Of course, that selection was then traded two more times before it was finally used by Atlanta to take defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.
So, the Bucs essentially used a high fifth and a mid-round seventh to get Kevin Pamphile, who has proved to be a valuable asset on the O-Line. That's a deal they would surely take again.
4. Surprise Deal Lands Mankins in Tampa on Eve of 2014 Campaign
Date: August 26, 2014
Trade Partner: New England
Type of Trade: Out
Trade Details: Tampa Bay trades TE Tim Wright and a 2015 fourth-round pick for six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins
Results: Bucs get a two-year starter and a 2015 Pro Bowler and also briefly re-acquire Wright
This was an out-of-the-blue stunner, with Licht acquiring Mankins just 12 days before the start of the 2014 season. It was a difficult transition for Mankins at first, understandably, but he would go on to start 31 games over two seasons in Tampa before retiring last March. As part of a surprisingly strong offensive line in 2015, Mankins made his seventh Pro Bowl, capping his stellar 11-year career with a trip to Hawaii.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' cornerbacks.
The cost for the Buccaneers was Wright, who had been a surprise himself the previous season. An undrafted free agent and converted wideout, Wright caught 54 passes and scored five touchdowns in 2013. By the time of the trade, however, Tampa Bay had added Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the draft and Brandon Myers through free agency, so they had depth to spare at the tight end position. After Wright was waived the following spring by the Patriots, the Buccaneers swooped in with a claim, and then later traded Wright again, to the Lions.
New England used the fourth-round pick from the Buccaneers, number 101 overall, to select Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers, who appeared in only one game as a rookie but started eight contests for the Super Bowl champs this past fall. Flowers had seven sacks in the 2016 season.
5. Bucs Use Deadline Deal to Move Up in 2015 Draft
Date: October 28, 2014
Trade Partner: New England
Type of Trade: Up
Trade Details: Bucs trade LB Jonathan Casillas and a 2015 sixth-round pick for the Patriots' 2015 fifth-round pick
Results: Bucs end up with a 10-spot bump on Day Three, later trade the new selection
The struggling Buccaneers were sellers at the trade deadline in 2014, swapping away two defenders for draft gains. This was the smaller of those two deals (see Trade #6 below for the other one) and it would have been a trade "in" if it had simply been Casillas for one of the Patriots' draft pick. Instead, in what is a common maneuver around the NFL, the Buccaneers used a player they did not intend to keep to improve one of their picks.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' defensive linemen.
Since the Buccaneers were giving up a sixth for a fifth, this one theoretically could have been a move up of just one spot, if the Patriots ended up with the last pick in the fifth round and Tampa Bay was slotted first in the sixth round. Practically speaking, though, the Buccaneers' brain trust knew this would not be the case because there was sure to be some compensatory picks added to the end of Round Five.
As it turned out, Tampa Bay did end up with the first overall pick and New England with the last spot in the order, after the Buccaneers finished 2-14 in 2014 and the Patriots won the Super Bowl. However, there were eight compensatory picks tacked onto the end of the fifth round, and the Buccaneers' draft-spot rotation with the 2-14 Tennessee Titans meant they were picking second in Round Six. So, in total, it ended up being a move up of 10 spots, from 178 to 168. It hardly mattered – to the Buccaneers at least – because they didn't even end up using the pick. See Trade #6 below for the rest of that story.
6. Tampa Bay Sends Barron to the Rams for Two Picks
Date: October 28, 2014
Trade Partner: St. Louis
Type of Trade: In
Trade Details: Bucs trade S Mark Barron to the Rams for 4th and 6th-round picks in the 2015 draft
Results: Tampa Bay uses one of those picks in a separate trade and the other on WR Kaelin Clay
The higher-profile deal Licht's Buccaneers made at the 2014 in-season trade deadline was the move of safety Mark Barron to the St. Louis Rams for fourth and sixth-round picks in 2015. Barron had been the seventh-overall selection in the 2012 draft but had not to that point developed into the impact defender the Bucs were hoping he would become. After joining the Rams, Barron eventually moved to linebacker, where he has had a couple of productive seasons as a starter.
Neither of the two picks the Buccaneers acquired translated directly into a player that stuck with the team, but the fourth-round pick was part of another important deal. (See Trade #9 below.) Tampa Bay selected Utah wide receiver Kaelin Clay with the added sixth-round selection, #184 overall, hoping his impressive kick return game could translate to the NFL. Clay has scored one return touchdown in the NFL so far, but it was for the Ravens in 2015. After briefly making the Bucs' practice squad as a rookie, he was waived and later spent a couple months on the Lions' practice squad. After signing with Baltimore in November, Clay got into seven games as a return man and got that one touchdown, but he is not currently on an NFL roster.
7. Goldson's Departure Nets Small Draft Gain
Date: April 3, 2015
Trade Partner: Washington
Type of Trade: Up
Trade Details: Bucs trade S Dashon Goldson and 2016 7th-round pick for Redskins' 2016 6th-round pick
Results: Tampa Bay uses pick on TE Danny Vitale
Safety Dashon Goldson was coming off his second Pro Bowl and his first All-Pro selection when the Buccaneers signed him away from San Francisco in the spring of 2013. However, Goldson did not have the same sort of impact in Tampa as he did for the 49ers, and the Buccaneers were ready to move on after two years. They found a taker in Washington, giving up the player for a net gain of 35 draft spots.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' linebackers.
Though this deal happened about a month before the 2015 draft, the Bucs and Redskins actually used 2016 picks to make the deal, with Tampa Bay getting a sixth and Washington getting a seventh. It ended up being a pretty decent split for the Buccaneers thanks to a strong 2015 campaign in Washington. The Bucs gave up #232 to get #197.
Of course, the draft is still an uncertain process no matter where you pick. The Bucs were excited to nab Northwestern's "super-back," Danny Vitale, with that sixth-round pick, but in the end Vitale failed to make the roster. The Buccaneers kept undrafted free agent Alan Cross instead. Vitale did return to the Bucs' practice squad but eventually found a home with the Cleveland Browns, appearing in nine games and catching four passes.
8. Bucs Attempt to Sign, Then Trade For, George Johnson
Date: April 15, 2015
Trade Partner: Detroit
Type of Trade: Down
Trade Details: Bucs trade 2015 5th-round pick to Lions for DE George Johnson and a 2017 7th-round pick
Results: Johnson spent one season as a rotational lineman and the next on injured reserve
The Buccaneers initially signed Johnson, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet on April 7, attempting to bring back a player who had started his career in Tampa as an undrafted free agent. That initial offer was eventually voided, so the Buccaneers took a more direct route and traded for Johnson. While it feels like a trade "out" – give up a fifth to get a player – it was really a move down because the Bucs got a seventh back.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' offensive linemen.
After recording six sacks for the Lions in 2014, Johnson began the 2015 season as a starter in Tampa but later become a rotational reserve. He did not have a sack in '15 and a preseason injury cost him all of last year, but Johnson remains on the roster and will get another shot to compete for a job in 2017.
The fifth-round pick the Buccaneers gave up for Johnson was the one they ended up with after the Jonathan Casillas swap with New England, #168 overall. The Lions used that pick to take fullback Michael Burton, who has made the team in each of his first two years and played in 31 games. In another one for the coincidence file, both Burton and Johnson are Rutgers products.
Tampa Bay used the seventh-round pick it acquired from Detroit to take another big running back, Hawaii's Joey Iosefa. Iosefa didn't make the team in Tampa but did get into two contests during a brief stint with New England. He is not currently on an NFL roster.
9. Small Move Up Ensures Marpet Lands in Tampa
Date: May 1, 2015
Trade Partner: Indianapolis
Type of Trade: Up
Trade Details: Bucs trade 3rd and 4th-round picks in 2015 draft to Colts for 2nd and 4th-round picks, swapping #65 and #109 for #61 and #128
Results: Tampa Bay uses pick #61 on G Ali Marpet and makes another small trade with its new 4th-round pick
The 2015 draft started just as the Bucs had planned. They had no competition at the top, of course, using the first-overall pick to select Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. The Bucs needed a new left tackle to protect Winston after the failure of free agent acquisition Anthony Collins, so they nabbed their targeted player early in the second round with Penn State's Donovan Smith. Their next pick was the first one of Round Three, #65 overall, and they hoped to use it on Hobart guard Ali Marpet, one of their favorite players from the pre-draft scouting process.
Pictures of the Buccaneers' wide receivers.