It’s no secret that the Buccaneers have an absurdly loaded roster. They are the first team in the Super Bowl era to bring back all 22 starters (and some change) from the previous season’s championship squad. They did so by restructuring and resigning their pending free agents to team-friendly deals.
The thing is, despite the miraculous job done by General Manager Jason Licht and company, the Bucs aren’t completely out of the woods. Their strategy can be described as “kick the can down the road” from a salary cap perspective, and entering 2022 they will have a similar situation on their hands when it comes to expired contracts. The quality of the pending free agents may not be equal talent-wise, but the quantity won’t be either in that the Buccaneers will have several more starters that’ll be pending free agents by the 2022 offseason than they did in 2021.
One of these pending free agents is safety Jordan Whitehead.
Whitehead is a solid football player. The thing is, with all the pending free agents next year, the Bucs may not be able to afford to keep him in Tampa. Luckily, they have more than a solid backup plan in the form of Edwards. Whitehead and Edwards are virtually the same sizes, with the 205 pounds Edwards actually outweighing Whitehead by seven pounds.
They also have equal productivity in some areas despite unequal playing time. Whitehead obviously had more tackles in 2020 due to starting every game, but things get interesting as far as coverage goes. In 2020, both Whitehead and Edwards both had a fumble recovery, two interceptions, and Edwards actually had five passes deflected to Whitehead’s four.
The point is, if Whitehead were to be playing elsewhere beyond 2021, Edwards can fill right in and provide similar production. He knows what it’s like to come in and play to replace someone when called upon. When Antoine Winfield Jr. tweaked his ankle leading up to the NFC Championship, forcing him to miss the game, Edwards stepped in and performed with great aplomb.
The week before in the divisional round against the New Orleans Saints, Edwards picked off Drew Brees in the fourth quarter, sealing the game for the Bucs in what would become the final pass of Brees’ career. That’s certainly something Edwards can hang his hat on.
2020 will be a very telling year for Mike Edwards. Should his play continue on the upward trajectory it’s currently on, he can see his role progressively increase going forward, possibly even into a starting role. His is a name fans of the Buccaneers should not forget.