Tampa Bay Buccaneers Donald Penn not a lock to stay?

Aldon Smith (99) rushes past Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Donald Penn (70) during the second half. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Topics: Donald Penn, Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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  • JOHN SCHMIDT

    Was thinking something similar Joe, though I’m not sure how much of an upgrade Albert is over Penn. Penn has been very durable over his career, something Albert can’t claim as he’s only played all 16 games once since ’08. He’s also going to have a lot of suitors with cash to spend in a few weeks, and someone is bound to overpay him. If the Bucs are able to grab a top OT in the draft, wouldn’t be surprised to see the team try to trade Penn during it as opposed to releasing him. He still has value as a semi-solid LT, even picking up a 3rd or 4th rounder would be a solid return.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Thanks for dropping by, John. I think Albert would be an upgrade over Penn, but he would probably cost too much for the Buccaneers. I mean, if they are going to cut Penn because of cost, why would they turn around and sign Albert to a big contract? If their goal is to save money at LT, then it would only make sense for them to do it after drafting a guy like Robinson or Matthews.

  • Tom Weissmann

    Maybe in pass blocking but definitely not run blocking is Albert better than Penn. Albert is just a year younger and injury prone. If they get Robinson, Matthews or even Lewan, Penn should be gone by the 10th as they’re using a high pick for a replacement, not a project or developmental player. I’d rather have either Robinson or Matthews but Robinson is the better run blocker which Tampa’s offense relies heavily on so his average pass blocking skills can be worked on without having to be a detriment since they don’t pass more than run.

    • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

      Great logic on dissect Robinson vs. Matthews as a better fit for TB. As I said below, I don’t think it would be wise for the Bucs to cut Penn in a cost-saving move and then go around and spend big money on Albert. If Penn is gone, then a star rookie will be starting in Tampa.

      • Tom Weissmann

        Thanks I really appreciate that. That’s what I’m going for because he has lacked in pass blocking the last few years and his salary/age are outweighing (no pun intended) his skills. St this stage in his career, he can’t be expected to learn how to block better or change traits in his game as well as a Robinson or Matthews. Matthews is pretty good at pass protection but Robinson is far better in run blocking and has a huge upside to become a better pass blocker down the road. I like the upside and potential along with his run blocking to want him Tampa immediately. Thanks for the reply.

        • http://www.musketfire.com/ Joe Soriano

          No problem, having intelligent discussions with others is incredibly important, and I would be only cheating myself by not replying.

          I agree with everything you stated in your most recent comment, and I think either Penn or Davin Joseph gets cut. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been a Joseph fan due to his injuries and huge pass blocking issues. He seems like a great guy, but I don’t understand why people have always regarded him as a great player.

          • Tom Weissmann

            Of course and with the insider info you have, I know you have a better view of the situation than I do and more knowledge as well.

            I’ve liked Joseph as a run blocker and I believe that’s why he made the Pro Bowl a couple of times. From what I’ve always heard, the left side of the line is for pass protection and the right is for run blocking. If he were to be a left guard, He wouldn’t have survived in the league with subpar pass blocking. I think he’s still decent but he’s not worth the money he’s making, both with his age and skills factored in. I would like him to take a pay cut but if he doesn’t, then they will likely cut him. I believe he’s serviceable in the passing game but he’s still good at run blocking. If he ends up getting cut, oh well. Meredith, Zuttah or Larsen did fine blocking in 2012 when they broke tons of offensive franchise records. Tampa will be fine if he’s on the team or not come September.

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