The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be heading into next season as the team to beat following their remarkable 2020/21 campaign, one that ended in a Super Bowl victory. Tom Brady reminded everyone he’s still the best quarterback in the NFL, even at 43, taking one of the league’s weaker sides to the Super Bowl and etching their name in history.
The Bucs now have one of the best rosters in football, having brought back all 22 starters from their championship campaign and adding edge rusher Joe Tryon and another QB in Kyle Trask. Tampa is still one of the top favorites in the online casinos due to this fact but some would argue Brady would be enough even with a whole new team around him.
Brady hasn’t played in a full-capacity Raymond James Stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is pretty excited to do so next season.
“It’s going to be really, I think, exciting for all of us,” he said after a practice in early June.
“We had a little taste of it in the Super Bowl, where there was definitely crowd noise. There was crowd noise in Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, but there’s nothing like running out there in front of a home crowd and 70,000 people cheering us.”
As per custom, the team will have to make cuts here and there and we could see some important players released. While the Bucs aren’t expected to drop any of their starters, some top contributors could be on their way out.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The above-mentioned Trask was drafted in the second round and the Bucs are hoping to see him succeed Brady when the latter decides to move on. Either Ryan Griffin or Blaine Gabbert could be let go and Griffin seems like the one who will should it come to that.
Gabbert’s entire contract with the team is guaranteed and he is considered to be an important player, having played behind Brady last season.
Griffin, who re-signed with the Bucs in April, wouldn’t put the organization at any financial risk should they opt to offload him. He certainly seems the easier option in that regard. He’d also have no trouble finding a new home.
Should he get kept, it would be his seventh season with the team since being claimed off waivers from the New Orleans Saints in 2015. Griffin is mostly used in preseason and has only thrown four passes in his NFL career, all in 2019. He’s quite used to Byron Leftwich and Bruce Arians’ tactics but, given the team’s draft pick, he might not be a part of the squad next season.
Ke’Shawn Vaugn could possibly find himself without a team although he was drafted last year. The team is likely to favor Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Giovani Bernard. Vaughn is liked by the Bucs coaching staff but hardly did himself any favors when he spurned OTAs at first.
He eventually showed up but Andy Reid was none-to-pleased with the attitude. Arians was not happy either. “Hopefully, he’ll make a better decision tomorrow,” the coach was quoted as saying.
While OTAs are not mandatory, coaches very much prefer it if players show up.
Watson had seven catches in his first four games last term and his play came in quite handy when Chris Godwin went down with an injury. However, Antonio Brown’s arrival pushed him further down the pecking order. He’s now unlikely to make the Bucs’ final roster.
It’s pretty unfortunate for a player of such quality to be in the fringes but, if you’re taking on Antonio Brown, it becomes understandable.
Steve McLendon isn’t guaranteed to be part of the roster despite getting re-signed during the offseason. While he’s a respected player among his peers, the 35-year-old is a rotational piece. There’s only space for three or four players on the defensive line, with Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea and William Gholston locked in as starters.
As mentioned above, he’s a favorite in the locker room but his minimal cap charge could prompt the Bucs to cut him as they look towards younger options.
Quinton Bell is competing with Anthony Nelson, Cam Gill, and Ladarius Hamilton for the Bucs No.4 edge-rushing position. Special teams acumen will be pretty important and could determine who lands the role; of course, pass-rushing will have a lot to do with it. The Bucs’ first-round pick Joe Tyron has also made life harder for Bell, who only appeared in five games over the past two seasons.
He certainly has the looks of a player Tampa wouldn’t think twice about cutting.