The Bucs’ secondary definitely went by way of it in 2021.
Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting, Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Jordan Whitehead entered the yr as Tampa Bay’s beginning group. But, it felt like that these 5 gamers not often shared the sector collectively. Every man hung out sidelined with accidents.
Consequently, the Bucs needed to depend on the likes of Dee Delaney, Ross Cockrell, Pierre Desir, Richard Sherman and Andrew Adams at completely different occasions all through the season. Whereas these guys stepped in admirably — all issues thought of — it wasn’t an excellent state of affairs for a Tremendous Bowl contender.
There was a little bit of turnover within the secondary this offseason, however the principle issue for the group in 2022 shall be well being. If the beginning group of Davis, Dean, Murphy-Bunting, Winfield and Mike Edwards can keep on the sector collectively, they’ve an opportunity to be particular.
Professional Soccer Focus appears to suppose so, anyway. PFF’s Michael Renner launched his 2022 secondary rankings this week, and the Bucs’ unit could be very effectively considered. Actually, Tampa Bay’s secondary finds itself in Tier 1, coming in at No. 2 within the league. Baltimore took the highest spot. That may shock some followers, who noticed the highest three cornerbacks solely produce a mixed three interceptions in 2021.
One Final Experience For This Bucs Secondary?
In a league with a wage cap, it’s onerous to maintain groups collectively for all that lengthy. There’s sure to be turnover for the sake of parity within the league. Tampa Bay noticed a little bit of it this offseason, with Whitehead leaving to signal with the Jets.
The Bucs have been in a position to re-sign Davis this offseason, locking him down for 3 extra years. Nonetheless, the staff enters 2022 with three members of their beginning secondary coming into contract years. Renner notes as a lot in his rankings.
“We go from some of the skilled secondaries within the NFL to 1 with 4 starters nonetheless on rookie offers,” Renner wrote. “A big a part of the Bucs “operating it again” from a roster-building perspective was their potential to hit on so many gamers of their defensive secondary the previous 5 years, permitting the staff to allocate cash elsewhere.
“With Dean, Murphy-Bunting and Edwards all set to hit free company after this season, 2022 often is the final time we see this Tremendous Bowl-winning Tampa Bay unit in Tier 1.”
That final half feels a bit overly ominous, however it’s a distinctive spot for the Bucs to be in. Dean, Murphy-Bunting and Edwards are all in contract years. Winfield is in yr three of his four-year rookie contract. It’s unlikely that Tampa Bay will be capable to convey all three again subsequent yr. However this season will go a great distance in figuring out who the entrance workplace priorities subsequent offseason.
Proper now, if any of these three gamers are going to earn a second contract, Dean is the clear frontrunner. His rise has been considerably meteoric within the final couple of years. Just some weeks in the past, he and Davis have been each picked as cornerbacks who’re on the sting of being elite. If the staff can hold Davis and Dean as its two outdoors corners past 2022, it’s not out of the realm of risk for the Bucs’ secondary to stay close to the highest of the 2023 PFF rankings.
Depth Is A Energy Heading Into 2022
What Renner doesn’t appear to have in mind is that the Bucs have an excellent little bit of depth of their secondary. Logan Ryan was introduced in to push Murphy-Bunting for the beginning nickel nook spot. Fellow veteran Keanu Neal will see time at security as a useful run stopper.
Behind Davis and Dean at cornerback, the Bucs have Delaney, who has put collectively a unbelievable offseason. There’s additionally rookie Zyon McCollum, who has the entire bodily instruments to be a key member of the secondary sooner or later.
Cockrell and Rashard Robinson are two extra choices Tampa Bay can deploy if wanted. However above all else, the Bucs will certainly be hoping for higher damage luck on the place than they’d a yr in the past.