Buccaneers Have Tough Decision Looming on Former First-Round Pick

Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Getty Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

There’s only a certain amount of time any NFL player has to prove himself after getting drafted. That time might be up for Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

After Tryon-Shoyinka was selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft at No. 32 overall he signed a four-year, $11.1 million contract. The deadline for a decision on the fifth-year option for 2021 draft picks is May 2.

Picking up that option would pay the former Washington star $13.25 million in 2025 —  a number the Buccaneers would be hard-pressed to justify at this point.

“Tryon-Shoyinka has been disappointing when measured against his first-round draft pick status,” wrote PewterReport.com’s Joshua Queipo. “Over three seasons he has logged just 13 sacks to go with 114 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, six passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. But is perhaps more well known for the volume of sacks he failed to finish than he is for the ones he has created.”

Comments From Todd Bowles Point to Different Role

The Buccaneers expected Tryon-Shoyinka to develop into an elite outside linebacker and pass rusher along the lines of former Tampa Bay linebacker Shaquil Barrett. That hasn’t happened yet.

Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles seemed to damn Tryon-Shoyinka with faint praise recently when he said the fourth-year player might be a “Joker” in the Buccaneers’ defensive scheme this season.

“Joe is a very unique player,” Bowles told PewterReport.com. “He’s not going to be a go-around-the-corner, Shaq-type guy. Joe can move all across the line of scrimmage and help us in a lot of things. He’s our linebacker, he’s our defensive end, he’s our three-tech, he’s our part-time nickel, he’s our part-time inside ‘backer. He can come from a lot of areas, so he has a lot of jobs. He’s one of those chess pieces that I talk about.”

Tryon-Shoyinka’s greatest use in 2024 could be as an enticing trade option for a team desperate for help in its pass rush. Bleacher Report proposed a trade that would send him to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2025.

Tampa Bay linebacker YaYa Diaby led the team with 7.5 sacks as a rookie in 2023 and replaced Tryon-Shoyinka in the starting lineup late in the season.

“For the Bucs, this would be a chance to move on and get something in return for a player that they benched last season,” wrote Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine. “For the Cowboys, it’s an opportunity to take a relatively low-cost risk on a high-potential player.

Buccaneers Could Add Pass-Rushing Depth in 2024 Draft

How much the Buccaneers may have already moved past Tryon-Shoyinka could be spelled out very clearly in the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25-27 in Detroit.

ESPN’s Matt Miller has the Buccaneers projected to take UCLA defensive end Laiatu Latu with the No. 26 overall pick — a player with almost the exact size and skill set as Tryon-Shoyinka.

“You won’t find a more productive pass-rusher in this class,” Miller wrote about Latu. “… he would slot in well as a standup rusher with the Bucs’ 3-4 scheme. Latu reminds me of the Bucs’ 2021 first-rounder Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, whose fifth-year option decision for 2025 is due right after the draft.”

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