The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could consider drafting an offensive tackle with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, especially since one of the two blue-chip offensive tackle prospects should be available for the Bucs at that slot. Although it’s possible that both Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson are gone before the Buccaneers pick in the first, I think Jason Licht could pull the trigger and pick up one of them. It’s not likely, but it isn’t out of the question and could become a likelihood if starting left tackle Donald Penn becomes a cap casualty.
I don’t think the Buccaneers will end up releasing Penn, but there’s a chance that could happen. ESPN’s Adam Caplan reports that the Bucs haven’t asked Penn to take a paycut yet, and it’s also “not out of the question” for the team to simply cut ties with him.
Penn will become a free agent in 2016, and the 30-year-old is set to make $6.75 million and $6.5 million respectively in the next two seasons. While that’s a significant amount, Penn is also a solid starting left tackle in this league and shouldn’t regress in the next two seasons. I’ve always thought that some people have overrated his pass blocking, but he’s a great run blocker and an above-average pass protector on the left side overall.
Releasing him would save the Buccaneers $7.4 million in cap space, and that’s a vast amount of money. They could use that to sign Branden Albert, who would be an upgrade, but I think it’s more likely that the Bucs wait until the draft to see if Matthews or Robinson is an option. If so, then I think they would consider drafting one of those two and then cutting ties with Penn. Right tackle Demar Dotson looks solid, so I think they will only draft an OT if they cut ties with Penn at some point, even if it’s after the draft.