The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have one of the worst defenses in the league, and cannot afford to lose top pass rusher Michael Bennett to free agency. The Buccaneers must do whatever it takes to make Bennett a top priority in the 2013 NFL off-season.
Tampa Bay recorded a measly 23 sacks in 2011, worst in the league, and did not improve much in 2012 with their 27 sacks that ranked 29th in the NFL. No team besides the Buccaneers was in the lower five in each of the past two seasons. Is it any wonder why they also have the league’s worst pass defense?
Bennett is the bright spot on a very dim pass rushing team. His nine sacks made up one third of the Buccaneers total, and the fact that he is about to hit free agency does not bode well for the organization. With a 7-9 record last season, Tampa Bay feels they are right there in the midst of getting back into the playoffs. However, if the defense does not improve immediately then they simply have no shot at a postseason berth.
The Buccaneers have five draft picks in the first 125 selections this year, which means the defense is going to get a much needed makeover. Unfortunately, those picks will not mean as much if the team loses their top defensive playmaker. There is no question Bennett will receive plenty of attention in free agency from team’s trying to improve their 4-3 defense. His 41 tackles, nine sacks and three forced fumbles speak volumes.
If Tampa Bay allows Bennett to walk away from the team, and they shouldn’t considering how much cap space they will have this off-season, then they will be taking a giant leap backwards. It would simply be inexcusable to allow a player of Bennett’s magnitude to leave, especially when he would probably like to stay and help the team get back to the promise land for the right price.