Buccaneers’ $3 Million Starter Poached by AFC Contender: Report

Bruce Arians

Getty The Buccaneers are losing starting free safety Mike Edwards to the Chiefs.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are losing another one of their key starters.

As the Buccaneers continue to reshape their roster following the retirement of quarterback Tom Brady, they’re losing safety Mike Edwards. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Kansas City Chiefs are signing the former Bucs starting free safety to a one-year, $3 million deal. The deal is worth up to $5 million when factoring in incentives.

“The Chiefs are signing former #Bucs S Mike Edwards, source said,” said Rapoport. “Coming off his best season with 82 tackles and two picks, he now lands in KC. It’s a 1-year deal worth $3M with a chance to get to $5M with incentives, per source.”

How Mike Edwards Emerged as Buccaneers’ Starting Safety

The 26-year-old Edwards had been a member of the Buccaneers since he was selected with a third-round draft pick in the 2019 NFL draft. Edwards spent the 2019 season as a part-time starter, the Buccaneers’ 2020 season as largely a special teams contributor and the 2021 season as a heavily-used reserve safety. It was during the 2022 season that Edwards finally broke through as a full-time starter.

After the Bucs lost former starting safety Jordan Whitehead to the New York Jets in free agency, Edwards was named Tampa Bay’s starter at free safety.

In his best season to date, Edwards posted a career-high 82 tackles with two interceptions while appearing in 94% of the defensive snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Edwards posted a decent 56.7 defensive grade and a career-high 64.3 pass-rushing grade last season.

Logan Ryan Sounds off on Mike Edwards’ Departure

Safety Logan Ryan — who spent last season with the Buccaneers — took to Twitter to express how big of a loss it is for the Buccaneers to lose Edwards.

“Playing with the lead in the 4th quarter I can’t imagine how many picks M__Edwards7 bout to have 😱 Mike one of the best ball hawks I ever played with at any level sheesh,” said Edwards on Friday, March 17. “Don’t believe me just watch Chiefs.”

As JoeBucsFan points out, the Buccaneers were not likely to bring Edwards back considering their salary cap struggles this offseason. At one point, Tampa Bay was in the worst salary cap shape entering the offseason.

“Welcome to salary cap hell,” said JoeBucsFan. “There was no way the Bucs would keep everyone after being $50 million above the cap days ago. Edwards was collateral damage, assuming the Bucs wanted him to return.”

The Buccaneers were able to re-sign longtime defensive captain Lavonte David to a one-year, $7 million deal. JoeBucsFan explains why Tampa Bay leaned towards re-signing their leading tackler from last season over a young valuable starter in the defensive backfield.

“Joe guesses you could argue what was the point of letting a good young defensive back go rather than keeping a 33-year old linebacker (Lavonte David)? That’s fair,” said JoeBucsFan. “But who was going to have a greater impact, the Bucs’ leading tackler last season, or Edwards? David. of course.”

Across four seasons with the Buccaneers, Edwards racked up a total of 184 tackles with seven interceptions in 58 games and 23 starts.

Edwards projects to be the Chiefs’ starting free safety alongside strong safety Justin Reid in the defensive backfield.

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