Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Aaron Stinnie never started a playoff game before the team’s run to Super Bowl LV.
Stinnie earned his keep in three playoff starts, and the Bucs re-signed him on Wednesday according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman. The former James Madison standout, who stepped in place of star guard Alex Cappa, signed a one-year contract instead of becoming a restricted free agent per ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Stinnie’s agent, Nicole Lynn, extended congratulations on Twitter.
Auman confirmed the numbers for Stinnie’s contract haven’t been announced.
Stinnie Steps in for Cappa
When Cappa got injured during the Wild Card game at Washington in January, Stinnie stepped for the remaining playoff games. He helped the Bucs garner 116 yards rushing per game and allow an average of one sack per game according to Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.
“It’s definitely been a roller coaster,” Stinnie told JMU Sports before the Super Bowl. “One of the biggest pieces for me, just seeing the way our season has been going and seeing how many different people on our team have been able to step up in different situations when, you know, the team’s needed them to.”
Stinnie’s moment came against a team that had Bucs’ number all season — the New Orleans Saints. He did his part as the Bucs gained 127 yards on the ground and allowed one sack. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians knew he could do it.
“He’s done a good job for us, so he’s more than ready to play,” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said in a January press conference per USA Today’s Bucs Wire.
Stinnie said he takes a starter mentality into every game.
“You have to attack each week as though you are going to be that starter for that week. The thing I like to say is ‘When you stay ready, you never have to get ready,'” Stinnie told the Richmond-Times Dispatch’s John O’Connor before the Saints game. “Those mental reps, picking the starters’ brains as they’re out there going, that definitely helps out, asking them questions here and there, what they’re seeing out there, what’s happening. So definitely using those mental reps throughout the games and practices helps out.”
The 6-3, 312-pound guard played sparingly in the 2020 regular season, his second with the Bucs after joining the team via waiver claims from the Tennessee Titans in October 2019 per Smith. Stinnie saw action in a couple of games in 2019.
He entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Titans in 2018. Because Stinnie played at an FCS powerhouse at JMU, he played in many college playoff games from 2014 to 2017, including a national title in the 2016 season. He also won FCS All-American honors twice.
Tampa has been active of late in re-signing players from its Super Bowl team. The Bucs franchise-tagged wide receiver Chris Godwin, re-signed linebackers Lavonte David and Shaquil Barrett, and re-signed tight end Rob Gronkowski in the past nine days. Quarterback Tom Brady received a contract extension, too, during that stretch.
Several key free agents remain for the Bucs to sign in wide receiver Antonio Brown, running back Leonard Fournette, defensive end Ndamukong Suh, and kicker Ryan Succop. The Bucs have 20 remaining unrestricted free agents overall to sign per Smith.