TAMPA, Fla. -- They talked like they were drafting the second coming of John Lynch.
The current regime was only too happy to give up on 2012 first-round pick Mark Barron on Tuesday as the NFL's trading deadline approached. Barron was shipped to the St. Louis Rams for fourth- and sixth-round picks in 2015. The Bucs also traded reserve linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the New England Patriots. The Bucs will get New England’s fifth-round pick next season and send their 2015 sixth-round pick to the Patriots.
But it's the trade of Barron that's most significant. The current tandem of coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht obviously didn't share the same high opinion of Barron that former coach Greg Schiano and general manager Mark Dominik did only two years ago.
Hindsight is always 20-20, but the Bucs could have taken linebacker Luke Kuechly with the seventh overall pick in the first round in 2012. Instead, they passed and took Barron. Kuechly won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 while playing for Carolina.
Barron hasn't been a total bust like Piscitelli, but he has produced only three interceptions in three seasons. Barron never has come close to playing up to his potential.
Barron became expendable in part because the Bucs have a trio of mediocre safeties in Bradley McDougald, Major Wright and Keith Tandy. None of those safeties has as much natural talent as Barron. But Barron's talent wasn't showing in the current system.
Barron also became expendable because he just wasn't as good as advertised. Maybe Barron turns into a force in St. Louis. But he was nothing more than mediocre in Tampa Bay.
Anybody else think the 2012 Bucs should have gone linebacker and drafted Kuechly?