It’s been fairly the offseason for the Bucs. Retirements, unretirements, a training change, and a busy free company interval have everybody extraordinarily intrigued about what’s to come back within the third (and possibly ultimate?) yr of the Tom Brady period in Tampa.
Fortunately, “rankings season” is sort of over. Coaching camp is arising in a few weeks, and due to Tampa Bay’s loopy offseason, there isn’t any scarcity of scorching subjects to bear in mind when the Bucs return to the AdventHealth Coaching Heart. NFL.com’s Bobby Kownack put collectively a complete NFC South camp preview this week, and he detailed 4 subplots to concentrate to for every group. There’s so much to dive into for the Falcons, Panthers and Saints. However it’s the Bucs who’re the defending division champions. And it’s the Bucs who’re essentially the most fascinating group among the many 4. So, what had been Kownack’s 4 subplots for Tampa Bay?
A Change In Management At The Prime
In another offseason, the Bucs going by way of a training change in all probability would’ve been their No. 1 storyline. However the teaching transition has firm, with Tom Brady retiring and unretiring being one of many greatest tales in your complete NFL during the last six months. Nonetheless, a change in management is critical for any group. And for a group with reliable Tremendous Bowl hopes, it’s even larger. Bruce Arians, who gained Tremendous Bowl LV with the Bucs simply two seasons in the past, stepped down and stepped right into a entrance workplace position. That opened up the possibility for him to move a championship contender to his hand-chosen successor, Todd Bowles. And that’s the place Kownack focuses for his first subplot. Right here’s what he needed to say about Bowles’ first camp:
“Todd Bowles could also be inheriting essentially the most Tremendous Bowl-ready group for a coach in his first yr since Barry Switzer with the mid-’90s Cowboys. The cabinet is overflowing in comparison with what Bowles needed to work with throughout 4 largely unsuccessful years as Jets head coach in 2015-18, however it additionally means outsized expectations. The excellent news is that many of the organizational items are nonetheless in place — even Bruce Arians stays in a quasi-advisory position. Any adjustments to the group’s strategy might be tweaks relatively than transformational, however the variations below the brand new Bowles period will nonetheless begin to take root throughout camp.”
Throughout OTAs and mini-camp, it was made clear that there gained’t be any huge procedural adjustments from what the group did below Arians. However seeing Bowles lead camp as the pinnacle coach might be a change. And it’ll positively be fascinating to see how he and the Bucs deal with the foremost expectations on their shoulders.
The Return Of Brady For Yr 23
The primary storyline that has been threaded between each different storyline this offseason is Tom Brady and his return for a twenty third NFL season. For 40 days, it appeared just like the Bucs — and the league — must step into life with out the best of all time. Brady retired on Feb. 1, signaling the tip of a quick however excellent period for Tampa Bay. It appeared just like the group must transfer on and go together with Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask or Secret Choice C on the quarterback place in 2022. However then, simply earlier than free company started, all the things modified once more. Bucs normal supervisor Jason Licht and then-head coach Bruce Arians maintained that they might preserve the sunshine on for Brady. On March 13, the 44-year-old quarterback introduced his comeback. Right here’s what Kownack needed to say about Brady in Bucs camp:
“All eyes might be on Tom Brady as his twenty third season will get underway. His capacity to maintain his thoughts and physique prepared season after grueling season is known, however this yr’s break had somewhat extra aptitude than the standard avocado ice cream. Brady retired in February, unretired in March after which reached a mega-deal in Might to develop into Fox Sports activities’ lead NFL analyst every time he has a retirement that sticks. The best to ever do it’ll flip 45 on Aug. 3 and is clearly permitting himself a peek past the curtain, but when he says he’s all in, we’d be fools to imagine he can’t attain the mountaintop once more … proper?!”
This season might be fascinating for Brady and the Bucs. The seven-time Tremendous Bowl champion will flip 45 early in camp. He’s again to go for an eighth ring — and a second in three years with Tampa Bay. He not too long ago mentioned he is aware of he doesn’t have a lot time left within the league. And he might not even play past this yr. So, it’s time to exit the proper method. The purpose might be one other championship. If he can get to the Tremendous Bowl and win it once more, you possibly can wager he’ll stroll away on prime. Bucs followers can solely hope that’s what’s on the horizon for his or her quarterback and favourite group.
Query Marks For The Bucs At The Tight Finish Place
Retirements had been an enormous theme for the Bucs this offseason. Brady’s got here first, however it didn’t final. The latest retirement got here simply final month, and its results stay to be seen. Rob Gronkowski — considerably surprisingly — determined towards a return for one more season. And it certain appears like he’ll keep on the sidelines for good this time. So, how does Tampa Bay transfer ahead? It has Cameron Brate main the tight finish group, however he’s the one veteran within the room. Exterior of him, the Bucs have fourth-round choose Cade Otton and sixth-round choose Ko Kieft within the combine. There’s additionally undrafted free brokers JJ Howland and Ben Beise. Longtime apply squad member Codey McElroy will get a shot to make the roster as nicely. However will the group add one other veteran? Kownack asks the identical query:
“Most figured Rob Gronkowski would comply with the chief when Brady unretired, and whereas some nonetheless imagine he’ll return if Brady calls, Gronk insists he’s “finished with soccer.” That leaves Cameron Brate main a TE group in any other case composed of two rookies (Cade Otton, Ko Kieft) and a profession apply squad participant (Codey McElroy) with one regular-season reception. Tampa Bay will seemingly discover veteran choices similar to Eric Ebron, Kyle Rudolph or Jared Prepare dinner earlier than Week 1 begins.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported earlier this week that the Bucs have curiosity in veteran tight finish Kyle Rudolph. However it’ll be fascinating to see what Tampa Bay decides to do on the place. Do they see what they’ve in Otton and Kieft after investing draft capital in them? Do Howland, Beise or McElroy go from longshot to 53-man roster member? The Bucs would possibly wish to see what they’ve with these guys in coaching camp, then resolve on a possible signing. And there’s at all times the off probability that they head into the season viewing Gronk as a security blanket — nevertheless unlikely it’s that he returns.
A True Look At The Bucs’ Rebuilt Trenches
Generally misplaced within the shuffle of Brady, Arians and Gronkowski’s retirements is the truth that 2021 Professional Bowl guard Ali Marpet hung up his cleats this offseason as nicely. That leaves an enormous gap on the left facet of Tampa Bay’s offensive line. Marpet was the definition of consistency throughout his seven-year profession. The Bucs by no means needed to query what they had been going to get from the Hobart man on any given gameday. Changing him is troublesome sufficient, however the group can also be changing Alex Cappa on the proper facet. He left to signal with Cincinnati in free company, however Licht acted shortly to search out his alternative. He traded a fifth-round choose to New England for Shaq Mason, who’s broadly considered as an improve. And on the opposite facet of the trenches, there’s simply as a lot turnover. Right here’s the final bit from Kownack:
“Championship groups are constructed from the within out, and inside occurs to be the place the Buccaneers are seeing essentially the most turnover. Tampa Bay may have two new beginning guards — presumably Shaq Mason, who’s conversant in preserving Brady upright from their days in New England, and second-rounder Luke Goedeke. In the meantime, on the opposite facet of the trenches, the Buccaneers are hoping the oft-injured Akiem Hicks has sufficient motor left to interchange Ndamukong Suh’s 55 begins (together with playoffs) since 2019. If the shuffled strains can jell, the Bucs have sufficient skill-player expertise to handle the remainder.”
Mason having the ability to step proper in for Cappa is large. That leaves only one open spot on the offensive line to determine. Who will emerge as the most suitable choice to play alongside Donovan Smith? Aaron Stinnie comes into camp with the expertise, however the Bucs spent a second-round choose on Central Michigan’s Luke Goedeke. Robert Hainsey has an outdoor shot as nicely. Now, on the opposite facet of the road, the Bucs will get their first correct have a look at changing Ndamukong Suh. A lot is anticipated of prime 2022 draft choose Logan Corridor, moreover the group introduced in veteran Akiem Hicks. How will the new-look defensive position come collectively in camp? What is going to or not it’s like when that defensive position strains up towards the rebuilt offensive line? We’ll quickly discover out.