Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
The Buccaneers finally have their deep threat, and he’s the deepest of deep threats.
Jackson was the second-fastest player in the league last season and led the NFL in yards per catch. That’s precisely why Tampa Bay nabbed him off the free-agent market for three years and $33.5 million. The veteran receiver will be entrusted with taking the top off of defenses and opening up opportunities for fellow wideout Mike Evans.
He’s the downfield target quarterback Jameis Winston needed and the experienced playmaker that could make the difference in the Bucs’ attempt to end a nine-year playoff drought.
Gerald McCoy still needs help. The Buccaneers’ star defensive tackle doubles as the team’s best pass-rusher. For years, Tampa Bay has been searching for a defensive end capable of getting into the backfield and locking down a starting job, and it might have found that player in Spence.
Taken in the second round of last year’s draft, Spence fell down draft boards due to off-field issues. He displayed his talent in his rookie year, playing in all 16 games and ranking third on the team in sacks with 5.5. The Bucs hope he can build on that season and stop the revolving door at the position.
It’s Year 3 for Winston, and he’s flanked by the most talent he’s ever had as a pro. The Buccaneers spared no expense to surround their franchise quarterback with weapons at every position. It’s now up to him to make the most of it.
He’s been handed a licence to throw, with Evans, Jackson, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, and O.J. Howard on the receiving end. Yet, he’ll also be asked to cut down on the mistakes. Winston was second in the league in interceptions (18) last season, and ranked fifth in his rookie season with 15 picks.
In the past two seasons, Winston, Evans, and running back Doug Martin have had to carry the offense by themselves. Now that they have the help they need, the Bucs are expected to turn the corner, with Winston in the driver seat.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Falcons’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Panthers’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Saints’ season
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