2022 NFL Offseason: Tampa Bay Bucs

Tampa Bay Bucs (Last Year: 13-4)

2022 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Russell Gage, WR Julio Jones, TE Kyle Rudolph, G Shaq Mason, DT Akiem Hicks, S Logan Ryan.
Early Draft Picks:
DE/DT Logan Hall, G Luke Goedeke, RB Rachaad White, TE Cade Otton, P Jake Camarda, CB Zyon McCollum. Buccaneers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Ronald Jones, WR Antonio Brown, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE O.J. Howard, G Ali Marpet, G Alex Cappa, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE/OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Pierre Desir, S Jordan Whitehead, P Bradley Pinion.

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense:
Forty days. That’s how long the Buccaneers wondered which quarterback would replace Tom Brady. As it turns out, all of this speculation ended up being pointless because Brady canceled his retirement plans after those 40 days. Brady will return for yet another year despite turning 45 in August.

Brady’s receiving corps won’t be as potent as it was heading into 2021. Mike Evans is still the No. 1 receiver, but Antonio Brown is gone. There’s also a question regarding the health of Chris Godwin, who tore his ACL late last season. Godwin is highly unlikely to be 100 percent this upcoming year, which will be problematic with Brown no longer on the team. The Buccaneers also signed Russell Gage, who was a capable slot receiver for the Falcons, but they lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement. Gronkowski could easily change his mind at some point. If he doesn’t, Cameron Brate and rookie Cade Otton will split targets at tight end.

Brady, of course, will continue to use all of his running backs as receivers. Ronald Jones is gone, but that’s not significant because Leonard Fournette was handling the majority of the workload last year. Tampa Bay still has Giovani Bernard as a threat in the two-minute drill. The team also used a third-round pick on Rachaad White, who will likely play a part in the offense.

Aside from Brown, Gronkowski and Jones, there were two other departures on this side of the ball, both of which were at the same position. The Buccaneers lost both guards, Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, to retirement and free agency, respectively. Tampa Bay acquired Shaq Mason from the Patriots in response to these losses. Mason is one of the top guards in the NFL, so he’ll be an upgrade over either former Buccaneer. The other guard position wasn’t resolved until the 2022 NFL Draft, which is when the Buccaneers spent a second-round choice on Luke Goedeke, who will compete with Aaron Stinnie for one of the guard gigs.

The rest of Tampa’s offensive line is intact. The best of the group is Tristan Wirfs, who could make a claim as being the best right tackle in the NFL despite his young age (23). Donovan Smith has developed into an excellent blind-side protector. Ryan Jensen does a great job at center as well.

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense:
The Buccaneers lost three defensive starters on top of the offensive departures they endured. Two are well-known names – Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul – but the greatest loss is Jordan Whitehead, a versatile safety. Whitehead was one of the better defensive backs on Tampa’s roster, so the team had to sign someone to replace him. It did so with Logan Ryan, who can also be used all over the secondary. Ryan, however, is 31 and on a slight decline. He’s not expected to have a great year, but the team’s other safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., is one of the best players at his position in the league.

As for Suh and Pierre-Paul, they were two aging front-seven players who weren’t nearly as productive as they once were. The Buccaneers initially replaced Suh with Logan Hall, who was chosen atop the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Hall is an athletic player with great upside. He easily could’ve been chosen in the early 20s, so the Buccaneers obtained solid value for him. He’ll compete for playing time with newly signed Akiem Hicks, who is still a solid player despite his age (32). Of course, the star of the Tampa defensive line is the massive and talented Vita Vea.

Pierre-Paul’s replacement was chosen in the 2021 NFL Draft when the Buccaneers obtained Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in the first round. Tryon-Shoyinka struggled as a part-time player last season, but he was seen as a raw prospect with immense upside heading into last year’s draft. He’ll have a much greater role in 2022 across from the superb Shaq Barrett.

Meanwhile, the linebacking corps and cornerbacks have remained intact. Beginning with the former, Lavonte David is coming off another great year, though the same can’t be said of Devin White. The 24-year-old linebacker struggled last year, perhaps because he was still coming off the high of a terrific playoff run and Super Bowl performance. He should be able to rebound this season.

As for the cornerbacks, the Buccaneers were able to retain Carlton Davis as a free agent. Davis and Jamel Dean form a potent duo on the outside, while Sean Murphy-Bunting typically does a good job of handling slot duties. As with White, Murphy-Bunting wasn’t quite himself last year. He dealt with an injury that caused him to miss most of the opening half of the season, so it’s reasonable to suspect that he wasn’t 100 percent upon his return.

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Schedule and Intangibles:
Prior to the 2009 season, the Buccaneers were 68-36 as hosts. However, they’ve maintained one of the worst home-field advantages in the NFL since. They’re 37-58 at the New Sombrero dating back to 2009. They were 6-3 and 8-2 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, however, which includes their Super Bowl win over the Chiefs.

Former head coach Bruce Arians said that he wants a kicker who can “make the easy ones.” Ryan Succop qualified, converting 28-of-31 attempts in 2020 and then 7-of-10 in 2021. He’s 1-of-3 from 50-plus in that span, however.

The Buccaneers used a fourth-round pick on punter Jake Camarda.

No touchdowns were scored for or against the Buccaneers on special teams.

The Buccaneers have some tough games because of their first-place schedule, but they have plenty of easy opponents because they’re in the NFC South.

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rookies:
Go here for the Buccaneers Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis: The Buccaneers’ mini-dynasty appeared to end when Tom Brady announced his retirement, but it took just 40 days for that to change. Tampa Bay must once again be considered one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. However, there are enough concerns with the team, so they’ll face plenty of competition in the conference.

Projection: 12-5 (1st in NFC South)

2021 Projection: 15-2. 2021 Actual Result: 13-4.
2020 Projection: 14-2. 2020 Actual Result: 11-5.
2019 Projection: 7-9. 2019 Actual Result: 7-9.
2018 Projection: 2-14. 2018 Actual Result: 5-11.
2017 Projection: 10-6. 2017 Actual Result: 5-11.
2016 Projection: 7-9. 2016 Actual Result: 9-7.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2022 NFL Draft: The Buccaneers didn’t lose a single starter last offseason. That’s not the case this time, as Tampa Bay will need to find replacements at guard, receiver, defensive tackle and outside linebacker. Tampa Bay is all in now, so it makes no sense to make picks for the future (i.e. a successor at quarterback).

2022 NFL Draft Accomplishments: If anything, Tampa Bay did a good job of addressing its needs. The team found replacements for Ndamukong Suh, Ali Marpet, Ronald Jones and Rob Gronkowski (potentially) in succession with their first four picks. Suh’s replacement, Logan Hall, is an athletic defensive lineman who provided good value because the Buccaneers traded down to obtain him. Tampa Bay was willing to draft him at No. 27, so picking up extra resources was astute maneuvering by the front office.

Aside from Hall, my favorite Tampa picks in the Round 2-4 range were Luke Goedeke, who will provide better protection for Tom Brady, and Cade Otton, who will offer some nice insurance in case Gronkowski doesn’t return. I also loved the Zyon McCollum selection in the fifth frame because he provided a ton of value at that juncture.

The Buccaneers’ goal entering the 2022 NFL Draft was to strengthen their roster while filling the appropriate needs that were essential to win one more Super Bowl with Tom Brady. They managed to do so, all while acquiring extra resources in the process. It was a terrific draft, save for the fourth-round pick used on a punter. It’s one small error, but that choice could have been used on someone else who would help Tampa Bay this year.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

33. Logan Hall, DE/DT, Houston – A- Grade
This pick makes so much sense for the Buccaneers. Ndamukong Suh is gone, and even he re-signs, he’s a shell of his former self. The Buccaneers need a young presence up front next to Vita Vea. I slotted Hall to the Buccaneers at No. 27 in my mock draft, so I like this value after Tampa Bay traded down.

57. Luke Goedeke, G/OT, Central Michigan – B+ Grade
Luke Goedeke is a versatile offensive lineman I’ve had in the late two/early three range, so this is a logical place to draft him. More importantly, the Buccaneers are filling a big need. They lost two guards this offseason, but filled just one spot with Shaq Mason. This addresses the other void.

91. Rachaad White, RB, Arizona State – B Grade
I’m sure Tom Brady loves this pick. I think it was made a bit early – I had White in the late fourth round – but I like the fit. Rachaad White is an impressive receiver out of the backfield, so Brady will make good use of him if he can get on the field.

106. Cade Otton, TE, Washington – B+ Grade
It should come as no surprise that the Buccaneers are picking a tight end to begin Day 3. O.J. Howard is gone, while Rob Gronkowski is a question mark to return, though I think he just wants to skip training camp. Still, the Buccaneers needed a young tight end, and Otton is a solid choice at this spot.

133. Jake Camarda, P, Georgia – MILLEN-19 GRADE
I’m so sick of these punter and kicker picks, yet they’re great at the same time because I can make fun of them for being so bad.

157. Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State – A Grade
I love the value and the fit of this pick. Zyon McCollum has nice size and length for a cornerback, and I thought he would be chosen in the fourth round, or perhaps even the third frame. The Buccaneers had to find better depth at cornerback, and McCollum should provide that.

218. Ko Kieft, TE, Minnesota – C Grade
I’d ordinarily scoff at blocking tight end picks, but this is the end of the sixth round, so that’s fine at this juncture. Ko Kieft was not someone I projected to be drafted, however.

248. Andre Anthony, DE/OLB, LSU – B Grade
The Buccaneers needed edge-rushing depth, so perhaps Andre Anthony will be able to make the final roster. I tried slotting him in the seventh round, but never fit him into the mock. This is a fine pick though.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Buccaneers appeared to be the favorites to win the Super Bowl at one point during the regular season, but they had way too many injuries and departures heading into the playoffs, missing Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown and Tristan Wirfs against the Rams.

Offseason Moves:
  • Buccaneers sign DT Akiem Hicks
  • Buccaneers sign S Keanu Neal
  • Buccaneers sign S/CB Logan Ryan
  • Buccaneers acquire G Shaq Mason for 5th-round pick
  • Buccaneers sign WR Russell Gage
  • Buccaneers announce retirement of G Ali Marpet

    Team Needs:
    1. Three Offensive Linemen: The Buccaneers have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, but two members – Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa – are due to hit free agency. Meanwhile, Ali Marpet has announced his retirement. Traded for Shaq Mason; re-signed Ryan Jensen

    2. Wide Receiver: Chris Godwin is coming off a torn ACL, while Antonio Brown is gone. The Buccaneers will need to add another talented receiver. Franchised Chris Godwin; signed Russell Gage

    3. Edge Rusher: Tampa Bay could stand to add another edge rusher with Jason Pierre-Paul entering free agency. Pierre-Paul as a shell of his former self this past season.

    4. Cornerback: The Buccaneers have a nice group of young cornerbacks, but one of them, Carlton Davis, will be a free agent in March. Re-signed Carlton Davis

    5. Defensive Tackle: Ndamukong Suh is another aging front-seven player who will see his contract expire. Signed Akiem Hicks

    6. Running Back: Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones and Giovani Bernard are all impending free agents. Re-signed Leonard Fournette and Giovani Bernard

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2022 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Akiem Hicks, DE/DT, Bears. Age: 32.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      There’s a lengthy history of the Bears being far worse against the run when Akiem Hicks is out of the lineup. Hicks is a force up front, though age (32) is becoming an issue.

    2. Russell Gage, WR, Falcons. Age: 26.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Russell Gage became the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver when Calvin Ridley left the team. Gage did a solid job in the slot.

    3. Julio Jones, WR, Titans. Age: 33.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Julio Jones was horrible in his first and only season with the Titans. He endured injuries and wasn’t very effective when on the field. It’s likely that his time in the NFL is quickly coming to an end.

    4. Logan Ryan, S/CB, Giants. Age: 31.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Logan Ryan is coming off a down year, but could rebound. He’s capable of playing anywhere in the secondary.

    5. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Giants. Age: 32. — Signed with Buccaneers
    6. Keanu Neal, LB, Cowboys. Age: 27. — Signed with Buccaneers

    Tampa Bay Bucs Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $60 million)

      Chris Godwin would have an even higher rating than four stars – he’s a young, extremely talented receiver – but he tore his ACL late in the season and will likely struggle in 2022 as a result.

    2. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Buccaneers. Age: 33.
      Remember when Rob Gronkowski was considered just a blocker early during the 2020 season? Gronkowski was huge during the Super Bowl run that year and then enjoyed a terrific 2021 campaign. He is somehow getting better despite entering his mid-30s.

    3. Jordan Whitehead, S/CB, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
      Signed with Jets (2 years, $14.5 million)

      Jordan Whitehead has evolved greatly since being chosen in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s been a stellar defensive back for the Buccaneers, capable of playing safety and cornerback (mostly in the slot). He wasn’t even 25 when he closed out his 2021 season.

    4. Carlton Davis, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 25.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $45 million)

      Carlton Davis has been the Buccaneers’ best cornerback in recent seasons. He’s still somehow only 25, so he could continue to improve.

    5. Leonard Fournette, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $21 million)

      It was unclear if Leonard Fournette or Ronald Jones would handle the majority of the workload for the Buccaneers this year. Fournette won the job easily and finally lived up to his first-round expectations. Not only did he dominate as a runner; he became a huge part of the passing game, catching 69 balls.

    6. Alex Cappa, G, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bengals (4 years, $40 million)

      Alex Cappa has developed very well since being chosen in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He’s a solid blocker who has no weaknesses in his game.

    7. Ryan Jensen, C, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (3 years, $39 million)

      Ryan Jensen is the weakest member of the offensive line, but only by default. His pass protection could be better, but the run blocking is excellent.

    8. Giovani Bernard, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Giovani Bernard was expected to handle more of a receiving workload this past season, but Leonard Fournette took that job instead. Bernard could still be a great third-down back for some team.

    9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 35.
      Ndamukong Suh may find himself in the Hall of Fame one day, but he’s no longer performing like such a player. He’s still a decent lineman, but he’s not nearly the force he used to be.

    10. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE/OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 33.
      Jason Pierre-Paul has enjoyed a great career, but it is coming to an end. He looked like a shell of his former self last year, notching only 2.5 sacks. Perhaps he’ll rebound next year, but he could be done.

    11. O.J. Howard, TE, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills (1 year)

      O.J. Howard caught only 14 passes last year. Perhaps he can revive his career elsewhere.

    12. Pierre Desir, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
    13. Andrew Adams, S, Buccaneers. Age: 29. — Signed with Giants
    14. William Gholston, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 31. — Re-signed with Buccaneers
    15. Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 25. — Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $5 million)
    16. Kevin Minter, LB, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
    17. Steve McLendon, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 36.
    18. Josh Wells, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 34. — Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year)
    19. Richard Sherman, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 34.
    20. Bradley Pinion, P, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Falcons
    21. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 32. — Re-signed with Buccaneers
    22. Curtis Riley, S, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
    23. Patrick O’Connor, DE/DT, Buccaneers. Age: 28.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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