SR’s Fab 5 is a set of reporting and evaluation on the Bucs from yours really, Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds. Listed below are 4 issues that caught my consideration this week, plus some random tidbits in my Buc Photographs part on the finish. Take pleasure in!
FAB 1. The Bucs’ Middle Of Consideration
Tampa Bay was making ready to lose both Professional Bowl middle Ryan Jensen and/or proper guard Alex Cappa this offseason – relying on the costs they fetch in free company.
Till Professional Bowl left guard Ali Marpet retired.
That modified every part, in fact.
“It modifications a number of issues so far as the place we’re headed in free company, with Ryan and [Cappa] and [Aaron] Stinnie,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians stated on the NFL Scouting Mix. “Clearly, for us, offensive line is big. It’s distinguished. It’s paramount. We’ve bought 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 have been iron males for a lot of the yr till January. I feel we’re advantageous there.”
That’s an enormous if in the case of Jensen and Cappa particularly on the heels of Marpet’s sudden retirement.
The Bucs aren’t going to lose three inside offensive linemen this yr.
That’s simply not going to occur on common supervisor Jason Licht’s watch.
Licht has a knack for locating good offensive linemen. He’s constructed the O-line primarily by means of the draft. Licht spent a first-round decide on All-Professional proper deal with Tristan Wirfs within the first spherical in 2020 and used a pair of second rounders on left deal with Donovan Smith and Marpet again in 2015. In 2018, he used a third-rounder on Cappa, who has been a three-year starter at proper guard.
Licht additionally signed Jensen as a free agent out of Baltimore in 2018 and made him the highest-paid middle within the NFL. Jensen signed a four-year, $42 million deal. He’s at the moment the league’s fifth highest-paid middle, as Detroit’s Frank Ragnow makes $13.5 million per yr.
Throughout his free agent go to to Tampa Bay, Jensen and Licht actually linked over their Midwestern roots and upbringing. Licht even had a custom-made airbrushed helmet for Jensen on his go to. It had Jensen’s likeness on one aspect with the Tampa skyline and the phrase “REDMAN” on it for the middle’s lengthy ginger locks. The opposite aspect had a Bucs-like cranium and sword on it.
Jensen liked it and felt the love from Licht and the Bucs and determined to play for Tampa Bay. The Bucs liked the fervour, toughness, management and talent that Jensen dropped at the crew.
Tampa Bay has heard whispers that Jensen desires to as soon as once more be the league’s highest-paid middle. The Bucs have been initially cool to the thought of paying him north of $13.5 million per yr. Jensen averaged $10.5 million per season in Tampa Bay.
“He has been the middle pivot of our offense,” Licht stated Tuesday on the Mix. “We signed him after we did to raise and set the tone of the toughness of the crew, and he’s positively executed that. I feel for me it’s a particular precedence to proceed that.”
Now with Marpet’s retirement and the Bucs resigned to the truth that there will probably be a brand new quarterback beneath middle, the crew is rethinking letting Jensen get large cash elsewhere. Jensen, who will probably be 31 in Might, is trying to money in on yet one more large contract earlier than he retires.
Who can blame him? Jensen’s worth has by no means been greater. He received a Tremendous Bowl in Tampa Bay in 2020 and is coming off his first Professional Bowl this previous season.
Pewter Report has discovered that the Bucs will certainly make a robust run at re-signing Jensen. After all the truth that the crew resides within the state of Florida helps. Florida doesn’t have state earnings tax, so the Bucs might supply barely lower than groups in different states that do have earnings tax and Jensen might nonetheless make more cash in Tampa Bay.
Re-signing Jensen with a elevate would possibly imply the crew loses Cappa, particularly if the suitable guard instructions as a lot as $8.5 million per season. However the crew likes Cappa. He’s homegrown and solely 27.
Cappa is hard, bodily, is aware of the Bucs offense and has good chemistry enjoying subsequent to Wirfs. There’s a lot to love about Cappa’s recreation and if he’s the one they re-sign he may very well be as a lot as $4-5 million cheaper than Jensen.
If the Bucs select to avoid wasting cash as a substitute of bringing Jensen again and want one other middle they’ve an in-house choice in Robert Hainsey. The Bucs used a third-round decide on Hainsey final yr, however he solely performed 31 snaps as a rookie.
Likelihood is Tampa Bay would signal a veteran middle to compete with Hainsey, and a possible goal can be Baltimore’s Bradley Bozeman. Licht had nice success plucking a middle from the Ravens 5 years in the past. He could be inclined to do it once more. Bozeman is nearly a carbon copy of Jensen.
The Alabama product is 6-foot-5, 325 kilos. Jensen is 6-foot-4, 319 kilos. Each have been sixth-round picks in Baltimore who performed guard earlier than transitioning to middle for his or her closing yr. Bozeman had a 73.3 total grade from Professional Soccer Focus final yr. He had a 73.8 move block grade and a 70.7 run block grade. In his first yr at middle, Bozeman had one penalty, allowed three sacks and three hits, along with 21 complete pressures.
Throughout Jensen’s Professional Bowl season in 2021, PFF gave him a 70.3 total grade. Jensen acquired a 61.7 move blocking grade and a 76.7 run blocking grade. He had 5 penalties, surrendered two sacks and 5 QB hits, plus allowed 21 complete pressures.
Whether or not it’s Jensen returning or Bozeman as his alternative for doubtless $8-9 million per yr, it’s onerous to think about the Bucs turning to an unproven middle in 2022.
The Bucs have truly executed a fairly good job of stockpiling some expertise on the guard place with some unheralded gamers. Stinnie, who’s a free agent however may very well be resigned cheaply. He and Leverett can be the present favorites to interchange Cappa and Marpet. Tampa Bay would additionally doubtless draft a guard. The crew had a proper assembly with Boston Faculty’s Zion Johnson in Indianapolis.
“You don’t need to go away that cabinet naked,” Licht stated. “We preferred all three of our beginning inside guys, however we additionally like Aaron Stinnie and what he’s executed for us. Nick Leverett has executed some nice issues for us. We like Brandon Walton and Sadarius Hutcherson till he bought damage final yr in coaching camp. We’ve bought some choices there, however we ideally want to hold Alex and Ryan Jensen on the crew.”
Arians echoes that sentiment.
“It begins up entrance, and also you all the time need to have a robust offensive line,” Arians stated. “And I feel our offensive line is a significant key to our success, successful the Tremendous Bowl and having a extremely good file this yr. We need to proceed to construct that offensive line or retain the gamers that now we have on that offensive line to proceed that place group being robust, and we’ll simply should see the way it goes. Generally what you need to do and what occurs are two various things, however we positively ideally want to hold it transferring ahead.
“Clearly, Ali’s retirement threw a bit of wrench into it, however we’ll work by means of that and see how a lot continuity we will hold in our offensive line – that’s all the time key. The quarterback subject will deal with itself.”
Think about that.
Arians, the quarterback whisperer, is placing extra of a precedence on sustaining the success of the offensive line than truly discovering a quarterback this offseason. But Arians is aware of that whoever begins at quarterback in Tampa Bay received’t be value a rattling if he’s mendacity on his again after hits and sacks.
If Jensen doesn’t return it received’t be because of lack of effort from the Bucs throughout negotiations.
FAB 2. Are You Prepared For Gabbert 2.0?
A month in the past in SR’s Fab 5 we broke the information that the Bucs could also be resigned to the truth that the crew must re-sign Blaine Gabbert to be the beginning QB in 2022. As anticipated, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and common supervisor Jason Licht spoke glowingly about Gabbert, who has been a backup quarterback the final three years in Tampa Bay, this week on the NFL Scouting Mix.
“Blaine Gabbert has been on this system for a very long time now and his expertise is greater than sufficient,” Arians stated. “So if we go free agency-wise, we’ll in all probability carry him again.”
You possibly can take away the phrase in all probability.
The Bucs will probably be re-signing Gabbert this offseason to compete with Kyle Trask and two yet-to-be recognized, yet-to-be acquired quarterbacks in camp. Whereas Arians would like to have Tom Brady again as a substitute, he’ll accept Gabbert as a result of he’s been the quarterback whisperer’s challenge QB for the final a number of years behind the scenes. Arians is curious how Gabbert 2.0 will fare ought to he win the beginning job.
“I feel he’s bought all of the respect within the locker room,” Arians stated of Gabbert. “They noticed him assist Tom and he’s helped each a kind of guys on offense and a few on protection. He’s bought a terrific relationship in that locker room.
“He’s been in about eight methods however he’s been on this one for about 5 years. He was essential to Tom’s improvement. He’s bought the solutions to the take a look at. Now, does he nonetheless have the talent degree to do it? I feel so.”
Arians is aware of all about Gabbert’s 13-35 profession file as a starter. However that got here enjoying for dangerous groups in Jacksonville and San Francisco, along with fill-in stints in Arizona and Tennessee.
“Everyone is judged by the file and when you find yourself enjoying on a shitty crew and also you get drafted excessive you’re in all probability on a shitty crew,” Arians stated. “Ben [Roethlisberger] was fortunate that he went to the Steelers. He dropped to 11 and bought on an excellent crew. You undergo these rising pains with eight head coaches, 9 coordinators in your first eight years. However you’ve bought to have one thing about you to maintain going.
“After we bought him, I used to be all the time a fan. I’m going again to his rookie yr in Jacksonville at Pittsburgh. They don’t block James Harrison off the sting and hit him within the mouth about the identical time the ball was popping out. He jumped up and went and grabbed his guys and I assumed, ‘He’s going to be a participant.’ He received two large video games for us in Arizona after we have been decimated with accidents. I do know what he can do. I don’t decide data from the previous. What are you able to do for me right this moment? I like what he can do for us right this moment.”
Arians additionally likes how Trask developed behind the scenes throughout his rookie season. He all however dominated out the Bucs drafting a quarterback in 2022 because of this.
“We addressed [quarterback] final yr,” Arians stated. “We drafted Kyle Trask [in the second round] for a motive. He matches every part we need to do [at the] quarterback [position]. I actually, actually preferred what I noticed for a yr, so I doubt drafting is an choice.”
Not solely is Arians inquisitive about seeing what Gabbert 2.0 can do, he’s additionally intrigued by how a lot stress Trask can apply on him for the beginning job in coaching camp.
“In addition they see what Kyle can do and what he’s bought going ahead,” Arians stated. “I’d be very, very comfy as a result of they know what they’re doing. They each have proven they’ll do it [in practice].”
FAB 3. Signing Gabbert Bins Brady Into Bucs
Tampa Bay is just not going to have the ability to commerce for a terrific quarterback this yr. There simply aren’t any quarterbacks accessible outdoors of Houston’s Deshaun Watson. And that’s a really dangerous transfer that the Bucs received’t be making.
Re-signing Blaine Gabbert to be the crew’s QB this yr has a few vital benefits for the Bucs. First, Tampa Bay might have a starter for about $4-5 million. That may be an enormous financial savings after paying Jameis Winston over $20 million in 2019 and Tom Brady $25 million in every of the final two seasons.
Saving $15-20 million on the quarterback place will enable common supervisor Jason Licht to give attention to re-signing different gamers and persevering with to construct a crew across the quarterback place. Gabbert received’t get the prospect to start out anyplace else, so he can be a cut price.
However re-signing Gabbert additionally containers Brady into the Bucs – simply in case he desires to return to soccer this summer season and play some place else. There was hypothesis that Brady would like to play his closing yr in San Francisco. His dad and mom stay in California and Brady grew up a fan of Joe Montana and the 49ers.
Head coach Bruce Arians already stated Brady wouldn’t be enjoying anyplace else if he desires to un-retire. Saying it was “dangerous enterprise” to commerce Brady and that the Bucs’ asking worth can be 5 first-round picks in any case.
But if the Bucs have been in a position to pull off a hypothetical commerce for a terrific quarterback like Seattle’s Russell Wilson this month there wouldn’t be any room for Brady on the roster. Actually not from a wage cap standpoint, as each QBs would occupy over $50 million of cap house.
So if Wilson grew to become a Buccaneer the crew would primarily should accommodate Brady and commerce him out of necessity. But when Gabbert have been to be re-signed, Brady loses his argument. Arians and the Bucs would say, “Nice information, Tom. You’ll be coming again as our starter and we’ll transfer Blaine again right down to No. 2 once more for yet one more yr.”
This received’t be the rationale that Gabbert is re-signed. However it’s a good byproduct of bringing him again as a result of it insures that Brady can’t – and received’t – play anyplace else in 2022.
FAB 4. SR’s Bucs Takeaways From The Mix
5 Bucs common supervisor Jason Licht and coach Bruce Arians
Bucs Aren’t Rebuilding, They’re Rebooting
The truth that the Bucs have needed to climate two large retirements this offseason in Professional Bowl quarterback Tom Brady and Professional Bowl guard Ali Marpet means the crew isn’t going to be reloading for one more Tremendous Bowl run in 2022. However Tampa Bay continues to be a really gifted crew if it could re-sign some key items this offseason, similar to franchise receiver Chris Godwin and cornerback Carlton Davis III. Each are anticipated to be again, amongst others.
Simply don’t inform Bucs common supervisor Jason Licht that he and the crew will probably be rebuilding this yr.
“I simply don’t like that phrase,” Licht stated on the Mix. “Going into free company we’ve bought a number of nice gamers once more and we’d prefer to carry a few of them again. Extra of that offensive line, all the time when you may have an opportunity you’ve bought to have an excellent offensive line. So we nonetheless have some excellent gamers. We nonetheless have total, what’s it, six Professional Bowlers which might be beneath contract with us subsequent yr? Bruce and I and the remainder of the crew really feel fairly good about the place we’re in comparison with the place we have been a few years in the past. So we don’t see it as a rebuild.”
It’s not a reload as a result of the Bucs received’t essentially be Tremendous Bowl contenders in 2022. But it surely’s not a rebuild as a result of they’ve sufficient expertise to make one other run on the playoffs. So name it a reboot.
Bucs Are Centered On Profitable The NFC South
After two years of being a authentic Tremendous Bowl contender with Brady beneath middle the Bucs are re-calibrating their expectations in 2023. Tampa Bay followers can be clever to do the identical. With a frightening schedule forward that features video games towards the Tremendous Bowl champion Rams and the runner-up Bengals, along with the Packers, Cowboys, Ravens and Chiefs, the Bucs are targeted on successful the NFC South – not essentially successful the NFC.
“We’ve bought some excellent coaches,” Licht stated. “We’ve bought some good younger gamers developing, and offensive linemen we be ok with, too. I feel we will nonetheless make a run at this division for positive.”
Final yr the Bucs received the division for the primary time since 2007 en path to a franchise-best 13-4 file. With the Saints dropping head coach Sean Payton to retirement and the Falcons and Panthers nonetheless in flux, the NFC South is huge open in 2022.
“We solely received it as soon as,” Arians stated. “The Saints nonetheless have that protection. Matt Ryan continues to be in Atlanta. I feel it’s going to be huge open, however I like our probabilities with our protection.”
Even a 9-8 file might win the NFC South in 2022. That may give the Bucs a house playoff recreation, and after that, who is aware of?
The Davis Dilemma
Licht and Arians need to have free agent cornerback Carlton Davis III again, but it surely feels like it is going to be come by means of the franchise tag. Each males talked about Davis being an excellent cornerback “when wholesome.” That is code for the crew wanting to place Davis on a one-year, prove-it deal through the franchise tag.
Davis has missed 14 video games in his 4 years in Tampa Bay, and has by no means had a season during which he’s performed in each recreation. Final yr, Davis missed seven video games because of a quad damage.
The opposite subject with Davis is his playmaking capability. He breaks up a ton of passes – 52 profession move breakups – however solely has six profession interceptions. Davis notched his first profession decide in 2019 after which had 4 in 2020. Final yr, he produced only one INT in 10 video games and dropped about three extra.
Cornerbacks that may common 4 interceptions per yr, like he had in 2020, receives a commission much more than ones that solely decide off one move a yr, as Davis did in 2019 and 2021. How a lot is Davis truly value? The Bucs need the 2022 season to search out out.
We Knew This QB Scenario Was Coming
Licht and Arians are resigned to the truth that the crew received’t be capable to commerce for an elite beginning quarterback. That’s one thing Pewter Report forecasted early on and tried to prep our readers about. We acknowledged that Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask could be the most effective choices as a result of they could be the one choices. Licht and Arians admitted that on the Mix.
To all these followers who (wrongly) consider that Arians wouldn’t come again for the 2022 season at age 70 if he didn’t have a terrific quarterback, you don’t know Arians. He’s a coach, and coaches are academics. Arians takes simply as a lot pleasure in growing younger quarterbacks as he does in teaching nice ones. The joys is similar for him. It simply is available in a special kind.
Arians is curious as heck about seeing what Gabbert 2.0 can do in his offense after growing behind the scenes in it for 4 seasons. No different present NFL quarterback is aware of Arians’ system higher than Gabbert does.
Arians and Licht are additionally excited to see what Trask can do and the way shortly he can develop. They made a clever transfer in drafting Trask final yr as a result of they’d him rated greater final yr than any QB within the 2022 draft class. If he can by some means beat out an skilled quarterback like Gabbert for the beginning job that ought to be considered as fairly an accomplishment for Trask and never essentially an indictment on Gabbert.
Operating Again Is An Afterthought
Outdoors of answering a query about Ke’Shawn Vaughn, neither Licht nor Arians even talked about any of the Bucs working backs in a mixed hour’s value of interviews between native media scrums and the rostrum press conferences. That’s noteworthy given the truth that the crew has simply two working backs beneath contact – Vaughn and Kenyon Barner.
Each Licht and Arians suppose extremely of Vaughn, a third-round decide from 2020. In actual fact, they suppose he’s a beginning caliber working again. I don’t see it, and consider he’s a No. 2 or No. 3 working again as a substitute. Barner, who’s principally a kick returner, isn’t any lock to make the crew.
Free agent Leonard Fournette’s identify wasn’t talked about as soon as in Indy. Everyone knows Ronald Jones II is transferring on. That’s a mutual determination. However there’s an opportunity Fournette returns later in March after the primary wave of free company. I feel the Bucs would welcome him again on an analogous one-year, $3.25 million deal like he signed final yr.
Tampa Bay must let him take a look at the waters after which wait patiently till his contract calls for come down if there are not any takers within the 27-year outdated again. If he does signal elsewhere the Bucs can all the time draft a working again and signal a worth free agent. Tampa Bay confirmed robust curiosity in Arizona State working again Rachaad White on the Mix amongst others. White was featured in Pewter Report’s preliminary Bucs 7-Spherical Mock Draft. It feels like Arians is ready to make use of the committee method at working again in 2022 like he has previously.
Bear in mind, Arians’ offense is a pass-first scheme. The Bucs might not sling it round as a lot as they did the final three years with out Jameis Winton or Tom Brady, however the emphasis will nonetheless be on getting the receivers the ball. Tampa Bay might certainly run the ball extra typically with out Brady to take a few of the stress off the brand new QB. However addressing the working again place received’t be a prime precedence when free company begins until they get the suitable participant on the proper worth early on.
FAB 5. SR’s Buc Photographs
• THE QB TRAITS ARIANS LOOKS FOR: Bucs head coach Bruce Arians is called the “quarterback whisperer” because of his grooming and growing of a number of NFL star QBs. He was requested on the NFL Scouting Mix what he appears for in an NFL quarterback.
“Grit – he’s bought to be powerful,” Arians stated. “A frontrunner – a man that the crew will comply with. And, he’s bought to know what the hell he’s doing. I imply, he can’t flip the ball over.”
That final sentence all however guidelines out the return of former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston to Tampa Bay. Winston had an NFL-high 30 interceptions in his lone season with Arians in 2019.
• BUCS MAY RUN THE BALL MORE IN 2022: The Bucs led the NFL in move makes an attempt with 731, passing yardage with 5,383 and passing touchdowns with 43 final yr. However with a brand new quarterback in 2022 that isn’t going to be as expert as Tom Brady, Tampa Bay’s offense will doubtless throw the ball much less and run the ball extra.
It’s not that Bruce Arians’ playbook will change this yr. It’s simply that the Bucs might flip to totally different pages of the playbook than they used with Brady on the helm.
“Our offense has form of been there for 20 years,” Arians stated. “[Offensive coordinator] Byron [Leftwich] was enjoying in it. We will achieve this many issues, it’s actually who the gamers are. And when you get the gamers we’ll construct it round them.”
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Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Matt Matera are in Indianapolis masking the NFL Scouting Mix this week, and did a few episodes analyzing the press conferences for Bucs common supervisor Jason Licht and Bruce Arians.
On Monday, Scott Reynolds and J.C. Allen mentioned the sudden retirement of guard Ali Marpet and what it means for the Bucs going ahead.
On Tuesday, Ledyard and Matera mentioned the large takeaways from the Licht and Arians press conferences.
On Wednesday, Ledyard and Matera broke the information about which tight ends and working backs the Bucs have interviewed on the Mix.
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• GET TO KNOW NEW BUCS OLBs COACH BOB SANDERS: New outdoors linebackers coach Bob Sanders coached with Bruce Arians in Arizona from 2015-17. At age 68, Sanders has loads of teaching expertise he’ll carry to Tampa Bay. Take a sneak peek at Sanders from this latest podcast interview.