It’s been fairly the offseason for the Bucs. Retirements, unretirements, a training change, and a busy free company interval have everybody extraordinarily intrigued about what’s to come back within the third (and perhaps remaining?) 12 months of the Tom Brady period in Tampa.
Fortunately, “rankings season” is sort of over. Coaching camp is arising in a few weeks, and due to Tampa Bay’s loopy offseason, there is no such thing as a scarcity of sizzling subjects to remember when the Bucs return to the AdventHealth Coaching Middle. NFL.com’s Bobby Kownack put collectively a complete NFC South camp preview this week, and he detailed 4 subplots to concentrate to for every group. There’s quite a bit to dive into for the Falcons, Panthers and Saints. But it surely’s the Bucs who’re the defending division champions. And it’s the Bucs who’re probably the most attention-grabbing group among the many 4. So, what had been Kownack’s 4 subplots for Tampa Bay?
A Change In Management At The Prime
In some other offseason, the Bucs going by means of a training change in all probability would’ve been their No. 1 storyline. However the teaching transition has firm, with Tom Brady retiring and unretiring being one of many greatest tales in the complete NFL during the last six months. Nonetheless, a change in management is important for any group. And for a group with legit Tremendous Bowl hopes, it’s even greater. Bruce Arians, who gained Tremendous Bowl LV with the Bucs simply two seasons in the past, stepped down and stepped right into a entrance workplace position. That opened up the prospect for him to go a championship contender to his hand-chosen successor, Todd Bowles. And that’s the place Kownack focuses for his first subplot. Right here’s what he needed to say about Bowles’ first camp:
“Todd Bowles could also be inheriting probably the most Tremendous Bowl-ready group for a coach in his first 12 months since Barry Switzer with the mid-’90s Cowboys. The cabinet is overflowing in comparison with what Bowles needed to work with throughout 4 largely unsuccessful years as Jets head coach in 2015-18, nevertheless it additionally means outsized expectations. The excellent news is that a lot of the organizational items are nonetheless in place — even Bruce Arians stays in a quasi-advisory position. Any adjustments to the group’s strategy will probably be tweaks relatively than transformational, however the variations beneath the brand new Bowles period will nonetheless begin to take root throughout camp.”
Throughout OTAs and mini-camp, it was made clear that there gained’t be any huge procedural adjustments from what the group did beneath Arians. However seeing Bowles lead camp as the pinnacle coach will probably be a change. And it’ll undoubtedly be attention-grabbing to see how he and the Bucs deal with the key expectations on their shoulders.
The Return Of Brady For Yr 23
The principle storyline that has been threaded between each different storyline this offseason is Tom Brady and his return for a twenty third NFL season. For 40 days, it appeared just like the Bucs — and the league — must step into life with out the best of all time. Brady retired on Feb. 1, signaling the top of a short however excellent period for Tampa Bay. It appeared just like the group must transfer on and go together with Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask or Secret Possibility C on the quarterback place in 2022. However then, simply earlier than free company started, all the things modified once more. Bucs normal supervisor Jason Licht and then-head coach Bruce Arians maintained that they’d preserve the sunshine on for Brady. On March 13, the 44-year-old quarterback introduced his comeback. Right here’s what Kownack needed to say about Brady in Bucs camp:
“All eyes will probably be on Tom Brady as his twenty third season will get underway. His capacity to maintain his thoughts and physique prepared season after grueling season is famous, however this 12 months’s break had just a little extra aptitude than the same old avocado ice cream. Brady retired in February, unretired in March after which reached a mega-deal in Might to turn into Fox Sports activities’ lead NFL analyst each time he has a retirement that sticks. The best to ever do it should flip 45 on Aug. 3 and is clearly permitting himself a peek past the curtain, but when he says he’s all in, we’d be fools to imagine he can’t attain the mountaintop once more … proper?!”
This season will probably be fascinating for Brady and the Bucs. The seven-time Tremendous Bowl champion will flip 45 early in camp. He’s again to go for an eighth ring — and a second in three years with Tampa Bay. He lately stated he is aware of he doesn’t have a lot time left within the league. And he could not even play past this 12 months. So, it’s time to exit the proper manner. The aim will probably be one other championship. If he can get to the Tremendous Bowl and win it once more, you may guess he’ll stroll away on prime. Bucs followers can solely hope that’s what’s on the horizon for his or her quarterback and favourite group.
Query Marks For The Bucs At The Tight Finish Place
Retirements had been an enormous theme for the Bucs this offseason. Brady’s got here first, nevertheless it didn’t final. The latest retirement got here simply final month, and its results stay to be seen. Rob Gronkowski — considerably surprisingly — determined in opposition to a return for an additional season. And it positive appears like he’ll keep on the sidelines for good this time. So, how does Tampa Bay transfer ahead? It has Cameron Brate main the tight finish group, however he’s the one veteran within the room. Outdoors of him, the Bucs have fourth-round decide Cade Otton and sixth-round decide Ko Kieft within the combine. There’s additionally undrafted free brokers JJ Howland and Ben Beise. Longtime follow squad member Codey McElroy will get a shot to make the roster as properly. However will the group add one other veteran? Kownack asks the identical query:
“Most figured Rob Gronkowski would observe the chief when Brady unretired, and whereas some nonetheless imagine he’ll return if Brady calls, Gronk insists he’s “achieved with soccer.” That leaves Cameron Brate main a TE group in any other case composed of two rookies (Cade Otton, Ko Kieft) and a profession follow squad participant (Codey McElroy) with one regular-season reception. Tampa Bay will possible discover veteran choices resembling Eric Ebron, Kyle Rudolph or Jared Cook dinner earlier than Week 1 begins.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported earlier this week that the Bucs have curiosity in veteran tight finish Kyle Rudolph. But it surely’ll be attention-grabbing to see what Tampa Bay decides to do on the place. Do they see what they’ve in Otton and Kieft after investing draft capital in them? Do Howland, Beise or McElroy go from longshot to 53-man roster member? The Bucs may wish to see what they’ve with these guys in coaching camp, then resolve on a possible signing. And there’s all the time the off likelihood that they head into the season viewing Gronk as a security blanket — nonetheless unlikely it’s that he returns.
A True Look At The Bucs’ Rebuilt Trenches
Generally misplaced within the shuffle of Brady, Arians and Gronkowski’s retirements is the truth that 2021 Professional Bowl guard Ali Marpet hung up his cleats this offseason as properly. That leaves a large gap on the left aspect of Tampa Bay’s offensive line. Marpet was the definition of consistency throughout his seven-year profession. The Bucs by no means needed to query what they had been going to get from the Hobart man on any given gameday. Changing him is troublesome sufficient, however the group can also be changing Alex Cappa on the proper aspect. He left to signal with Cincinnati in free company, however Licht acted shortly to search out his substitute. He traded a fifth-round decide to New England for Shaq Mason, who’s extensively considered as an improve. And on the opposite aspect of the trenches, there’s simply as a lot turnover. Right here’s the final bit from Kownack:
“Championship groups are constructed from the within out, and inside occurs to be the place the Buccaneers are seeing probably the most turnover. Tampa Bay could have two new beginning guards — presumably Shaq Mason, who’s accustomed to protecting Brady upright from their days in New England, and second-rounder Luke Goedeke. In the meantime, on the opposite aspect of the trenches, the Buccaneers are hoping the oft-injured Akiem Hicks has sufficient motor left to exchange Ndamukong Suh’s 55 begins (together with playoffs) since 2019. If the shuffled strains can jell, the Bucs have sufficient skill-player expertise to care for the remainder.”
Mason having the ability to step proper in for Cappa is big. That leaves only one open spot on the offensive line to determine. Who will emerge as the best choice to play alongside Donovan Smith? Aaron Stinnie comes into camp with the expertise, however the Bucs spent a second-round decide on Central Michigan’s Luke Goedeke. Robert Hainsey has an outdoor shot as properly. Now, on the opposite aspect of the road, the Bucs will get their first correct have a look at changing Ndamukong Suh. A lot is predicted of prime 2022 draft decide Logan Corridor, moreover the group introduced in veteran Akiem Hicks. How will the new-look defensive position come collectively in camp? What is going to it’s like when that defensive position strains up in opposition to the rebuilt offensive line? We’ll quickly discover out.