2023 NFL Offseason: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Last Year: 8-9)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Baker Mayfield, RB Chase Edmonds, G Matt Feiler, DT Greg Gaines, S Ryan Neal, K Chase McLaughlin.
Early Draft Picks:
DT Calijah Kancey, G Cody Mauch, DE Yaya Diaby, LB SirVocea Dennis, TE Payne Durham. Buccaneers Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Tom Brady, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Julio Jones, WR Breshad Perriman, OT Donovan Smith, G Shaq Mason, DE Carl Nassib, DT Akiem Hicks, DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, S Logan Ryan, S Mike Edwards, S Keanu Neal, K Ryan Succop.

2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offense:
The Buccaneers went from a 7-9 team to a Super Bowl winner in one year because of Tom Brady. Now, with Brady gone, the same reverse regression is expected. However, instead of falling off from a Super Bowl contender, Tampa Bay will be dropping off from an 8-9 team that had to scratch and claw its way to a divisional victory in an utterly atrocious NFC South.

Furthermore, the jump from Jameis Winston to Brady was less vast than the fall from Brady to either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask. Mayfield has been a huge bust as a former No. 1 overall pick, while Trask has shown nothing in limited action. It’s most likely that either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye will be quarterbacking the Buccaneers come 2024.

If the Buccaneers had a strong offensive line, there’s a chance either Mayfield or Trask could succeed. That, however, is not the case. Tampa Bay lost its long-time left tackle Donovan Smith to free agency this spring. Smith will be sorely missed, especially with Luke Goedeke expected to fill in at right tackle as Tristan Wirfs shifts to the blind side. Goedeke was woeful at guard last year, so the odds that he’ll succeed at right tackle are pretty slim.

Speaking of the guard position, the Buccaneers lost a player here as well, with Shaq Mason joining the Texans this offseason. Mason isn’t the same elite blocker he once was, but he was still a functional player on the front line last year. As it stands now, the two guards are Matt Feiler and second-round rookie Cody Mauch. Feiler had some solid seasons for the Steelers, but is coming off a horrible year. They’ll sandwich Ryan Jensen, who missed the entire 2022 regular season with a knee injury.

With the offensive line set to struggle to block for two poor quarterbacks, the receiving corps won’t be as productive as it has been in recent years. This is not ideal because the wideouts as the strength of the Buccaneers’ roster, as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are one of the top duos in the NFL. Russell Gage is a fine third option, while Cade Otton had some nice performances as a rookie tight end last year.

The Buccaneers will struggle to run the ball as well. Not only is the blocking poor; Rachaad White is a mediocre-at-best rusher. White is a quality receiver out of the backfield – he caught 50 passes last year – but he rushed for only 481 yards on a 3.7 yards-per-carry average.

2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense:
The Buccaneers were very interested in upgrading their mediocre pass rush this offseason, as evidenced by the high number of front-seven players they brought in for pre-draft visits. They met with lots of edge players, but ended up drafting defensive tackle Calijah Kancey. Many like to make the comparison to Aaron Donald because both players went to Pittsburgh and measure similarly. However, Kancey is much more raw than Donald was entering the NFL Draft, as Donald was much more productive in college. Kancey could eventually become a star, but it’ll take a lot of work. As for now, he projects to start next to Vita Vea, one of the best nose tackles in the NFL.

As for the edge rushers, the starting duo will be Shaq Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Barrett isn’t too far removed from a 10-sack campaign, but he’s currently a soon-to-be 31-year-old coming off a torn Achilles. Barrett said he’ll be ready for the 2023 season, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be close to 100 percent. Tryon-Shoyinka, meanwhile, has disappointed as a former first-round pick; he has recorded only four sacks in each of his first two years as a pro.

The remainder of the front seven is comprised of a couple of talented linebackers: Lavonte David and Devin White. It’s amazing that David is still performing at a very high level, considering that he turned 33 this offseason. White, conversely, is coming off a down year. He has been the subject of some trade rumors.

While the linebacking corps has remained intact, there were a couple of changes made to the secondary. The two starting cornerbacks, Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean, will reprise their roles. This is a positive, as both are talented corners. The first difference, however, will be at nickel corner, as Sean Murphy-Bunting departed this offseason. He’ll likely be replaced by Zyon McCollum, a fifth-round pick from the 2022 NFL Draft. McCollum struggled last year, albeit in limited action.

The Buccaneers also lost one of their starting safeties, but they were able to acquire a solid replacement in Ryan Neal, who thrived in Seattle last year. Neal will start next to Antoine Winfield Jr., one of the better safeties in the NFL.

2023 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 38-65-1 at the New Sombrero dating back to 2009. They were 6-3 and 8-2 in 2020 and 2021, respectively, which includes their Super Bowl win over the Chiefs. However, they reverted back to 1-7-1 last year.

New kicker Chase McLaughlin enjoyed a great season with the Colts last year. He went 30-of-36, but was 9-of-12 from 50-plus.

The Buccaneers used a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on punter Jake Camarda. This doesn’t seem like a wise decision, as Camarda was 14th in net punting as a rookie, and he didn’t do a good job of pinning the opposition inside the 20.

The Buccaneers have a few tough opponents like the Eagles, Bills, and Lions, but most of their schedule is comprised of easy foes from the NFC South and AFC South.

2023 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.

2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Analysis: The Buccaneers gained four wins (and a Super Bowl victory) after upgrading Jameis Winston to Tom Brady. The decline from Brady to either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask could be even more drastic. It’s possible that Tampa Bay will have one of the worst records in the NFL this upcoming season, which will be beneficial in the long run, due to the strength of the 2024 NFL Draft quarterback class.

Projection: 2-15 (4th in NFC South)

2022 Projection: 12-5. 2022 Actual Result: 8-9.
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: B- Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: It would be in the Buccaneers’ best interest to tank for the 2024 NFL Draft, where they can potentially obtain either Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. With Tom Brady and some other veterans gone, Tampa Bay won’t be competitive this year, so the front office should be focusing on high-upside players for the long haul.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Buccaneers made eight picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, and all of them scored between B+ and “C.” This includes their opening-round choice of Calijah Kancey, who reminds many of Aaron Donald even though he wasn’t nearly as productive at Pittsburgh. Still, it was a fine selection, as was Cody Mauch, a rock-steady guard who was a much-needed upgrade on the offensive line.

The pick I liked the least of Tampa Bay’s was SirVocea Dennis, who was taken in the fifth round. He was a reach and drew the worst grade, but given where he was drafted, he won’t make or break Tampa’s class.

Overall, I’d say this is a pretty mediocre output. The Buccaneers did well with some picks, but they did nothing overly exciting. Their total grade reflects that.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

19. Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh – B- Grade
The Buccaneers may have wanted a left tackle, but with all of them off the board, they drafted a replacement for Ndamukong Suh. Calijah Kancey has a huge ceiling with great athleticism, but he wasn’t nearly as productive at Pittsburgh as Aaron Donald was. I understand that this is a tall comparison, but that’s the one player people talk about when discussing Kancey. I think this is a bit too early for Kancey, but I don’t hate this pick.

48. Cody Mauch, G, North Dakota State – B Grade
I’m not sure why the Buccaneers moved ahead of the Steelers for Cody Mauch, given that Pittsburgh drafted an offensive lineman yesterday. Still, this is a solid pick. The Buccaneers had a huge need on the offensive line, and Mauch is a rock-steady, plug-and-play guard.

82. Yaya Diaby, DE, Louisville – B Grade
I had Yaya Diaby in the fourth round, so I don’t mind him going in this range. Diaby is a talented pass rusher, but gets trampled easily in run support. Given that the Buccaneers needed help getting after the quarterback, Diaby will serve an important role for them.

153. SirVocea Dennis, LB, Pittsburgh – C Grade
SirVocea Dennis is not someone I considered for my mock draft. He’s an athletic player, but he’s a small player who doesn’t really have a natural position. Maybe he can play special teams well.

171. Payne Durham, TE, Purdue – B Grade
I had Payne Durham slotted 10 picks later than this, so the range makes sense. Payne Durham should be the Buccaneers’ blocking tight end and a potential red zone threat. There’s limited upside, but Durham should be a solid player for the Buccaneers.

181. Josh Hayes, CB, North Dakota State – C+ Grade
Josh Hayes is a small and limited cornerback, and it’s not even clear if he’ll be able to play defense. However, he’s a sure tackler and a very good special teams player.

191. Trey Palmer, WR, Nebraska – B+ Grade
The Buccaneers needed receiving depth, and Trey Palmer provides good value in the sixth round. Palmer is a solid athlete coming off a breakout campaign. I like this pick a good amount.

196. Jose Ramirez, DE, Eastern Michigan – B Grade
Jose Ramirez would have gone earlier if he didn’t have such size limitations. Still, he could be an explosive situational pass rusher for a team that was looking to improve its lackluster pass rush from a year ago.

Season Summary:
The Buccaneers were the best team in the worst division last year. This meant that they were able to host a playoff game, but that ended horribly, with Dallas demolishing them. Now, the Buccaneers have to move forward with Tom Brady likely gone.

Offseason Moves:
  • Buccaneers sign G Matt Feiler
  • Buccaneers sign S Ryan Neal
  • Buccaneers sign K Chase McLaughlin
  • Buccaneers sign DT Greg Gaines
  • Buccaneers sign RB Chase Edmonds
  • Buccaneers sign QB Baker Mayfield
  • Texans acquire G Shaq Mason from Buccaneers for pick swap

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Tom Brady is a free agent. He’s not expected to return, so the Buccaneers will need to find a replacement to remain competitive. Signed Baker Mayfield

    2. Guard: Like Goedeke was awful at guard last year. The Buccaneers should find some competition for him. Signed Matt Feiler

    3. Two Cornerbacks: The Buccaneers have some great free agents that must be re-signed beyond Brady. Two are Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting. If they leave, the Buccaneers will have a miserable secondary. Re-signed Jamel Dean

    4. Linebacker: Lavonte David is a key free agent who will need to be re-signed or replaced. Re-signed Lavonte David

    5. Safety: Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal are two other free agents, though they’re not nearly as important as Brady, David, Dean, and Murphy-Bunting. Signed Ryan Neal

    6. Defensive Tackle: Akiem Hicks wasn’t healthy enough to be a viable replacement for Ndamukong Suh. Now, he’s an impending free agent. Signed Greg Gaines

    7. Running Back: Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White were quality receiving threats last year, but struggled to run the ball. Signed Chase Edmonds

    8. Edge Rushing Depth: Tampa Bay could use another edge rusher in case Shaq Barrett gets hurt again.

    9. Kicker: Ryan Succop is gone, so a new kicker is needed. Signed Chase McLaughlin

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Ryan Neal, S, Seahawks. Age: 27.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Ryan Neal came out of nowhere to perform on an extremely high level in the second half of 2022. He was terrific in coverage.

    2. Chase McLaughlin, K, Colts. Age: 27.
      Signed with Buccaneers

      Chase McLaughlin bounced around the NFL prior to 2022. He finally found his way, going 30-of-36. Amazingly, he hit nine field goals from 50-plus.

    3. Baker Mayfield, QB, Rams. Age: 28.
      Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

      Baker Mayfield was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL while he was with the Panthers, but he improved under Sean McVay late in the season. Still, there’s not much hope for him to become a viable starting quarterback.

    4. Greg Gaines, DT, Rams. Age: 27. — Signed with Buccaneers
    5. Matt Feiler, G, Chargers. Age: 31. — Signed with Buccaneers
    6. Chase Edmonds, RB, Broncos. Age: 27. — Signed with Buccaneers (1 year)

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Tom Brady, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 46.
      Announced retirement

      Tom Brady is coming off his worst year as a pro. Has Father Time finally won? Perhaps, but Brady was protected by one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.

    2. Jamel Dean, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (4 years, $52 million)

      Jamel Dean is an excellent cornerback with a bright future ahead of him at the age of 26. He was sorely missed in the playoff loss to the Cowboys.

    3. Donovan Smith, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Chiefs

      Donovan Smith had been playing on a Pro Bowl level for the Buccaneers until this past season. He struggled in 2022, but was dealing with an elbow injury. He’ll turn 30 this spring, so he could rebound with some strong years in the future.

    4. Lavonte David, LB, Buccaneers. Age: 33.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $7 million)

      Lavonte David is now 33, yet he continues to perform as one of the better linebackers in the NFL. That will change sometime soon, however.

    5. Sean Murphy-Bunting, CB, Buccaneers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Titans (1 year, $5 million)

      Sean Murphy-Bunting is an excellent slot cornerback, but he’s had trouble staying healthy recently. He’s missed 12 games in the past two years.

    6. Ryan Succop, K, Buccaneers. Age: 36.
      Bruce Arians was a fan of Ryan Succop because he could hit the “easy ones.” Succop isn’t good from 50-plus, so the new coaching staff is looking for someone with more upside.

    7. Logan Ryan, S/CB, Buccaneers. Age: 32.
      Logan Ryan is a versatile player who can play both safety and slot cornerback. He’ll be on the decline soon at the age of 32.

    8. Akiem Hicks, DE/DT, Buccaneers. Age: 33.
      Akiem Hicks missed half the year with an injury. He’s 33 now, but he can still be a stout run defender.

    9. Aaron Stinnie, G, Buccaneers. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $2.5 million)

      Aaron Stinnie was set to start at guard in 2022, but tore his ACL and MCL before the season began.

    10. Leonard Fournette, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
      Leonard Fournette isn’t too far removed from some great playoff performances, but he’s had some weight issues that have made him less explosive.

    11. Mike Edwards, S, Buccaneers. Age: 27. — Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $3 million)
    12. William Gholston, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 32.
    13. Keanu Neal, S, Buccaneers. Age: 28. — Signed with Steelers
    14. Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 30. — Signed with Giants
    15. Carl Nassib, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
    16. Julio Jones, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 34.
    17. Breshad Perriman, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 29. — Signed with Colts
    18. Deadrin Senat, DT, Buccaneers. Age: 29.
    19. Josh Wells, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 32. — Signed with Jaguars
    20. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 33. — Signed with Chiefs
    21. Scotty Miller, WR, Buccaneers. Age: 26. — Signed with Falcons
    22. Cameron Brate, TE, Buccaneers. Age: 32.
    23. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Buccaneers. Age: 33.
    24. Patrick O’Connor, DE, Buccaneers. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Buccaneers (1 year, $1.08 million)
    25. Giovani Bernard, RB, Buccaneers. Age: 31.
    26. Genard Avery, DE/OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 28.
    27. Cam Gill, DE/OLB, Buccaneers. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Buccaneers

    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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