There are real expectations for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Todd Monken as he gears up for his second season as the club’s offensive coordinator.
Jameis Winston has another year of experience under his belt, Mike Evans is progressively morphing into a Top-10 wide receiver and the team landed two potential studs in the draft with tight end O.J. Howard and receiver Chris Godwin.
Then, there’s DeSean Jackson. The rich got a whole lot richer in the offseason — both parties.
The team’s hoping to reap the rewards of the three-year, $33.5 million contract it inked the vertical threat to during free agency. Well, at least a majority of the team is hoping; Monken is expecting the production from Jackson, who’s off a 2016 resurgence.
“You came here because of the money,” he said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “Don’t give me all that bull about you came here because of the weather and Jameis (Winston). No. You came here because we paid you the most. You need to play like that. He gets that. He’s smart enough to understand that.”
This is hardly a fracture in chemistry between a new wide receiver and his offensive coordinator, despite the demands. Tampa Bay coughed up $20 million guaranteed for Jackson, and Monken appeared to be scratching the surface of something special as the Buccaneers finished 9-7 a season ago.
The statistical finishes were nothing to write home about, but there were telltale signs that Tampa was on a slow incline.
Last season, the Buccaneers receiving corps was one of the NFL’s youngest. Evans (23), Adam Humphries (23) and Cameron Brate (25) accounted for roughly 64 percent of the receiving yards last season. So not only does Jackson bring a vertical element and a complementary pairing to the physical Evans, he’s been around the block a time or two.
On the other hand, he’s not viewed solely as a veteran piece to come in and shake the rust off. There are $33.5 million reasons why his role stretches further than a locker-room hero.
Combine the talent from a season ago and parlay it with Jackson, and Tampa Bay’s offense can reach new heights.
Monken’s comments hold a sense of urgency, and that has to be a sense of relief for a team that hasn’t sniffed the postseason in a decade.