Are the safeties on the Bucs' radar starting caliber?
We told you last night that the Bucs were attempting to set up visits with a couple of veteran safeties, hoping to upgrade a position that certainly can use it.
Tanard Jackson has played very steadily and has been one of the team's best defensive players. But Sabby Piscitelli has frustrated coaches and teammates despite their public insistence that they support him.
To that end, the Bucs have reached out free agents Brodney Pool (Browns) and Gibril Wilson (Dolphins). But if Tampa Bay lands either player, would it automatically have a new starting safety to line up opposite Jackson?
My guess is yes, although the company line throughout the offseason is likely to be that any new addition at safety is going to have to come in and compete for a starting job.
Both candidates are more experienced and accomplished than Piscitelli, who was a first-year starter in 2009. Pool has started 41 games in five seasons, although he has had some issues with concussions that are likely to give teams pause. He has 11 interceptions, including four last season in Cleveland. His 11 pass deflections in just 11 games last season suggest he has better ball skills than Piscitelli, who had five pass deflections despite playing in all 16 games.
Wilson has been a starter his whole career, though he hasn't managed to have much longevity in his last two seasons. He went to the Raiders as a free agent in 2008 only to end up a free agent a year later, when he joined the Dolphins.
Miami parted ways with him last week after a season in which he was blamed for numerous breakdowns in the team's pass coverage. I admit I haven't seen enough of the Dolphins to know whether the assessment is fair or not. But it has to be noted that he played alongside some very average cornerbacks, too. At the very least, Wilson would provide a player of some stature who could put some heat on Piscitelli. This would be preferable to last season when he was proclaimed a starter by default.
Before I go, I should reinforce what Rick Stroud said here last night: None of this in and of itself would prevent the Bucs from drafting Tennessee safety Eric Berry if he were the best player remaining on the board. Whatever the case, we'll keep you posted on whether these visits actually transpire and, if so, where things go from there.
In the meantime, what say you?