Because the 2022 NFL offseason started the Bucs had been dealing with a mountain of questions. Their future Corridor of Fame quarterback Tom Brady had simply retired. Professional Bowl left guard Ali Marpet had joined him. The group was dealing with free company for 10 extra starters. Hypothesis ran rampant on how the group may deal with the looming holes.
It seems all we must always have carried out was merely ask the group.
It appears they had been greater than prepared to indicate their playing cards.
What do I imply?
Check out the general public feedback made by basic supervisor Jason Licht and former head coach Bruce Arians. They lay out the blueprint for his or her offseason nicely forward of the particular strikes they really made. It’s fairly a refreshing look from an NFL group in a league the place most groups usually maintain their playing cards near the vest. The Bucs actually didn’t do this this offseason.
Take a look at the group’s public statements about a number of components of their roster constructing and evaluate them to the eventual strikes they made
By March 1 the NFL world was in full hypothesis mode as to what the Bucs may do on the all-important quarterback place following Brady’s retirement. Would Kyle Trask be thrust into the beginning position? May the Bucs commerce for Derek Carr or Kirk Cousins? Would the Bucs promote out and make a play for Deshaun Watson?
Licht’s public assertion was easy. “We are going to depart a light-weight on for Tom Brady.”
Twelve days later, certain sufficient Brady un-retires. The Bucs didn’t make a drastic transfer which may have prevented them from conserving the GOAT. They very a lot left the sunshine on for him.
Defensive Sort out
On March 7, throughout a media availability on the NFL Scouting Mix, Arians spoke in regards to the group’s future at inside line of defense. Here’s what he needed to say.
“For us proper now, it’s quickness,” Arians mentioned when requested what the Bucs want up entrance. “We’ve acquired energy – we’ve acquired loads of energy. We want some quickness within the inside move rush. We’ve acquired a very good exterior move rush, so for us, it’s watching these guys and seeing whose inside move rush [fits us]. But in addition, who remains to be stout sufficient to cease the run. We don’t want one other Vita [Vea]. There’s not one other one on the market anyway. And if we get our guys again (Ndamukong Suh, Will Gholston, Steve McLendon), I’m effective, too. However we’d like one thing faster in there.”
On April 29 the Bucs drafted Logan Corridor within the second spherical of the 2022 NFL Draft. Corridor was recognized in faculty for his pace as an inside rusher and ran a 4.88 40-yard sprint on the NFL Mix. He actually match that invoice.
In the meantime the Bucs did convey again one of many three “our guys” Arians referenced by re-signing defensive finish Will Gholston. And on Wednesday the Bucs formally signed defensive deal with Akiem Hicks. He brings a ton of expertise as an skilled move rusher. And as I detailed in my most up-to-date “Grinding the Tape” column, a lot of that move rush expertise is based on his lightning fast first step.
Inner Free Agent Priorities
As I discussed earlier, the Bucs confronted the potential for shedding 10 starters through free company following the 2021 season. On the offensive aspect of the ball, they had been WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski, RG Alex Cappa, C Ryan Jensen, and RB Leonard Fournette. On protection, these free brokers had been Suh, Gholston, CB Carlton Davis III, S Jordan Whitehead, and OLB Jason Pierre-Paul.
However which gamers would Tampa Bay prioritize? Once more, wanting on the group’s public feedback and you may see they had been broadcasting their intentions to those that cared to hear.
On March 1, Licht was requested about Godwin and mentioned, “To be fairly frank, it’d be exhausting to think about transferring ahead with out Chris. We’ll see what we will do.”
Tampa Bay wound up making use of the franchise tag to Godwin for the second straight yr earlier than coming to phrases with him on a three-year, $60 million contract extension.
On March 21 throughout a press convention for Godwin’s re-signing, Licht addressed the potential for Fournette returning to the Bucs. Licht mentioned he “would like to have Leonard again.”
The Bucs re-signed Fournette the following day to a three-year, $21 million contract.
Following Marpet’s retirement, Arians had this to say in regards to the offensive line on the NFL Scouting Mix: “It modifications a number of issues so far as the place we’re headed in free company, with Ryan and [Cappa] and [Aaron] Stinnie. Clearly for us, offensive line is big. It’s distinguished. It’s paramount. We’ve acquired to dive into extra guys right here than we in all probability would have. We will’t exchange the participant, but when we will get again Ryan and Alex and Stinnie – all of them performed collectively. Nick Leverett performed. We went by means of seven or eight offensive linemen final yr. These 5 guys had been iron males for many of the yr till January. I feel we’re effective there.”
But it surely was Licht who singled out Jensen over Cappa. “He has been the middle pivot of our offense,” Licht mentioned on the Mix. “We signed him after we did to raise and set the tone of the toughness of the group, and he’s positively carried out that. I feel for me it’s a particular precedence to proceed that.”
And so the Bucs re-signed Jensen however not Cappa. And in conserving in step with Arians’ feedback in regards to the O-line in Indy, the Bucs traded up within the second spherical to draft guard Luke Goedeke.
When requested about Whitehead, Licht centered extra on the previous than the longer term. Here’s what Licht needed to say about Whitehead: “Jordan has grow to be an excellent participant for us. It’s simply his presence on protection after we didn’t have as a consequence of harm. You may see that we had been lacking slightly little bit of juice that comes from him. He offers that. He’s been a very good participant for us, and a terrific choose for us. I’m pleased with our workers for drafting him. Ideally, you’d like to have him again, however we’ll see the place it goes.”
Did you see the deal with the previous? And did you see the shortage of deal with the longer term? Did you catch Licht hedge on the finish?
As for Davis, the Bucs’ brass was a bit cagier. When requested about Tampa Bay’s prime cornerback, each Arians and Licht talked about his expertise adopted by the caveat that it was largely depending on his well being. It may be inferred that the group was utilizing this as a negotiating tactic, betting that different groups is perhaps frightened about Davis’ missed video games as a consequence of varied accidents.
That in flip might have pushed his value down. The gamble appears to have paid off, as most analysts, me included, pegged Davis for an AAV someplace round $18 million per yr. As an alternative, the Bucs had been in a position to permit Davis to check free company and nonetheless re-sign him at a a lot decrease AAV of $14.83 million per yr.
With many groups within the league unwilling to be trustworthy and forthright about their group constructing methods and intentions it may be straightforward to disregard what a basic supervisor or head coach says. However with regards to the Bucs that simply isn’t the case.
Speculate all you need about what the Bucs may do. However when you actually wish to know what they will do, it appears the very best technique is to only hearken to what they are saying.