Buccaneers Lose Super Bowl LV Starter to AFC Squad

Bruce Arians

Getty The Buccaneers are losing CB Sean Murphy-Bunting to the Titans.

One of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers‘ key starters from their Super Bowl LV squad has found a new home.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Buccaneers cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting is signing with the Tennessee Titans for one year. The move comes just hours after Rapoport had reported that Murphy-Bunting was planning to visit the Titans.

“Bucs FA CB Sean Murphy-Bunting is scheduled to visit the #Titans tomorrow, source said, and if all goes well he could land in Tennessee,” Rapoport reported on Sunday, March 19. “With 13 starts in the past two seasons, the versatile Murphy-Bunting may end up with a bigger role.”

As noted by Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times, the deal is expected to be for $5 million.

Sean Murphy-Bunting Came Up Big During Bucs’ Super Bowl LV Run

The 25-year-old cornerback had only started 13 games over the past two seasons after being shifted down the depth chart in favor of Jamel Dean.  Prior to starting just five of his 12 appearances during the 2022 season, Murphy-Bunting had started 21 of his 25 appearances during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The former second-round draft pick played a key role on the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl LV squad, notching 70 tackles while starting 13 of his 16 regular season appearances. He also started all four of Tampa Bay’s four postseason games, posting three interceptions in those games.

Despite seeing a smaller role this past season, Murphy-Bunting excelled, posting career-high marks with a 76.6 defensive grade and 80.9 grade in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Among all cornerbacks, Murphy-Bunting ranked 17th in defensive grade and 10th in coverage grade.

However, it became clear that after Tampa Bay re-signed Dean to a four-year, $52 million deal, Murphy-Bunting became expendable. The Buccaneers also lost a fellow draftee from the 2019 class, safety Mike Edwards, to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Murphy-Bunting is just the latest departure for the Buccaneers this offseason. Tampa Bay has also moved on from several other key members of the Super Bowl squad from just a couple years prior, with running back Leonard Fournette, tight end Cameron Brate and guard Shaq Mason all departing in recent days. That’s in addition to quarterback Tom Brady announcing his retirement following the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Murphy-Bunting ends his Buccaneers career after four seasons with stat totals of 188 tackles, six interceptions and four forced fumbles.

Baker Mayfield Sends Strong Message to Buccaneers

With Brady retiring from football, the Buccaneers will have a new starting quarterback entering the 2023 season.

While third-year man Kyle Trask could very well emerge as that guy, veteran signing Baker Mayfield may also end up as the starter. During his introductory press conference on Monday, March 20, Mayfield had a strong message for reporters — he’s not Brady.

“Listen, I’m never going to be Tom Brady,” Mayfield said. “There’s a reason he’s won so many Super Bowls. He’s the greatest of all time. There’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to try to be Tom. I’m going to be me. That’s what has gotten me to this point. We’re going to do it differently, but that’s what makes this league so special. Everybody puts their own touch on it.”

Mayfield will compete with Trask for the Buccaneers’ starting quarterback job after stints with the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams. The former No. 1 overall draft pick holds a 31-38 career record and previously led the Browns to a playoff win at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

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