Will The Bucs Regret Not Re-Signing Safety?

Because the Bucs prepare to move into coaching camp there might be a brand new starter within the secondary. Tampa Bay elected to not deliver again sturdy security Jordan Whitehead, who as an alternative signed with the New York Jets. The Bucs have usually carried out job of not over paying to maintain their very own gamers. Though the choice to let Whitehead stroll and never match the two-year $14.5 million deal he bought with the Jets was a little bit of a head-scratcher.

Onerous-hitting safeties of Whitehead’s ilk aren’t frequent place within the NFL anymore. He was a tone-setter for Tampa Bay’s protection and was a pacesetter on the again finish. An incredible run defender, he improved to be much less of a legal responsibility in protection as nicely. With two interceptions every of the final two years, he was no ballhawk like Mike Edwards. However Whitehead made performs on the ball within the secondary. He was additionally fairly sturdy, lacking simply six video games in his Bucs profession.

Bucs SS Jordan Whitehead and Packers RB Aaron Jones – Photograph by: USA In the present day

Whitehead performed a pivotal position within the Bucs’ 2020 run to turning into Tremendous Bowl champions. His bone-crushing hit on Packers working again Aaron Jones, which brought about a fumble, helped seal the deal on Tampa Bay’s NFC Championship victory. Injuring his shoulder on the play, he confirmed his toughness beginning the Tremendous Bowl two weeks later and performed wire to wire.

So was the choice to let Whitehead stroll the precise one?

Changing Whitehead In The Run Recreation

First, there’s nobody on the roster that may be capable of substitute what Whitehead contributed in run protection. He graded out because the ninth-best security in opposition to the run with an 81.5 grade, per Professional Soccer Focus. Antoine Winfield, Jr., who’s on a All-Professional profession trajectory, completed with a 78.1 grade. Edwards who will get the primary crack at changing Whitehead, posted only a 62.9 grade in opposition to the run. Whereas Newcomers Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal graded out 74.1 and a lowly 28.1, respectively.

The Bucs might use Winfield nearer to the road of scrimmage this 12 months, however you then’re taking your Professional Bowl security out of his free security position. Whereas it’d go well with Edwards’ talent set extra to play the highest half of the sector, how does that impression Winfield’s manufacturing? After a 12 months at linebacker, how does Neal readjust to security? And whereas Ryan is robust in opposition to the run, he’s extra of a free security and nickel nook than a real sturdy security as a result of his lack of perfect measurement. By not re-signing Whitehead, the Bucs danger displacing their greatest participant – Winfield – within the secondary.

Who Units The Tone On The Again Finish?

It’s not simply Whitehead’s impression within the run recreation. It’s his toughness and physicality that might be missed as nicely. Whereas Neal has been identified for his hard-hitting play fashion all through his profession, it’s not one thing he’s proven in recent times. Winfield can ship some huge hits, nevertheless it’s not his sturdy go well with. Edwards and Ryan aren’t going to put the lumber on ball carriers.

As a Professional Bowler, Winfield is now the unquestioned chief within the security room. It’ll fall on him to verify the protection is lined up appropriately and make all of the again finish calls. He’ll want to point out that he may be the identical intimidating drive Whitehead was within the secondary. We’ll see if he assumes these obligations in coaching camp, however you you must marvel if the Bucs would’ve been higher off re-signing Whitehead.

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