The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have to make some major roster decisions this offseason.
The team enters the offseason with a little less than $7 million in cap space, meaning it has less room to add contracts. When one factors in that Tampa Bay has to sign draft picks and key young free agents, one can see that’s just not a lot of money to work with.
That’s why, according to Bleacher Report’s Michelle Bruton, the Buccaneers should allow five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to walk as a free agent.
It’s just one of the tough decisions the Buccaneers will have to make in order to preserve a playoff-caliber roster. The Buccaneers also will have to make difficult decisions on several notable Buccaneers who are expected to become free agents, including wide receiver Chris Godwin, running back Leonard Fournette, center Ryan Jensen and tight end Rob Gronkowski.
“The Buccaneers aren’t likely to prioritize re-signing Suh again,” Bruton wrote in a February 9 column. “The 35-year-old should focus on getting the highest-paying deal he can to maximize the rest of his NFL career.”
Bruton wrote that lower-tier teams that struggle in the pass rush department — including the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars — should make a run at the former Defensive Player of the Year.
“A handful of teams with money to burn could use a player like Suh, a durable and productive pass-rusher who has totaled six sacks and double-digit quarterback hits in each of his last two seasons.
“The Jacksonville Jaguars had only 32 sacks in 2021 and are projected to have the third-most cap space. The Detroit Lions could also pursue a reunion with Suh, as they’re projected to have $24 million in cap space.
“The league still has a place for Suh in 2022. But Tampa Bay doesn’t.”
Suh’s Play Has Declined
At 35 years old, Suh is on the decline. According to Pro Football Focus, Suh’s 52.4 defensive grade ranked 80th among 119 defensive tackles. In fact, his defensive grade has been on the decline for four consecutive seasons.
To his credit, he remains durable, having started in all 17 games during the 2021 season. Suh has not missed a game since the 2011 season.
After signing fellow defensive tackle Vita Vea to a four-year, $73 million extension, Tampa Bay might have to simply move on from Suh.
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Report: Bucs Leaving Door Open for Brady Return
According to a report February 13 from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero, the Buccaneers will do “whatever is necessary” to lure Tom Brady, their 44-year-old quarterback, out of retirement.
Rapoport and Pelissero noted that Tampa Bay has done “extensive homework” on the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson. Furthermore, they’re also open to the idea of exploring a potential trade for the Seattle Seahawks‘ Russell Wilson.
Tampa Bay is in a difficult situation at quarterback following Brady’s departure. The only quarterback currently under contract is rookie Kyle Trask. Veteran journeyman Blaine Gabbert served as the backup quarterback over the past two seasons, but he hasn’t started a game since the 2018 season.
Brady is coming off arguably the best season of his career (outside of his record-setting 2007 campaign, when he threw 50 touchdown passes.) The oldest player in the league led the NFL in touchdowns, completions and passing yards.
The Buccaneers’ biggest priority in the offseason will be finding Brady’s replacement. But considering that will be a difficult task to accomplish, Tampa Bay may still hold out hope that their former quarterback will return in 2022.