The Buccaneers need to replace Ryan Smith.
Special teams is far from a popular position in the NFL. No one really grows up wanting to be a gunner or in the first row of the return formation, but these positions are necessary for a team looking to win the Super Bowl like the Buccaneers. Players like Ryan Smith didn’t show up on the stat sheet during last season, but their impact was clear.
Smith was never a large contributor on the defensive side of the ball, but he did fit in on the team as a special teams standout, playing 78% of the snaps in 2020. Every team has one or two guys like Smith, who lean into the role on special teams, and this job is hugely underrated.
Blown protection on kick returns is disastrous. Failure to communicate by the special teams unit can lead to horrible situations for the offense or the defense based on the scenario. Smith served as the glue to hold these units together.
The Buccaneers lost Ryan Smith to free agency
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While the Bucs have been great at keeping the band together in free agency over the past few weeks, they did lose Ryan Smith to the Chargers today according to Tom Pelissero on Twitter. This isn’t a massive loss, but it does still leave a hole for the Bucs to address.
Outside of the big three starters, the Bucs have almost no proven depth at corner, and they will need to find a replacement for Smith on special teams. These gaps aren’t incredibly pressing, but we have all seen how injuries can strike at the worst moments.
The smart money is on Tampa Bay looking in the draft for a special teams replacement and re-signing Ross Cockrell as a more than capable backup for the defense.
The Buccaneers need to make sure that their secondary remains intact in the event of an unlucky scenario, and without Smith serving that role reliably, Tampa Bay will need to find a replacement sooner than later.
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