Buccaneers: Mike Edwards playing his way into bigger role

Mike Edwards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Mike Edwards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

The secondary of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has seen more down than ups so far in 2021, but safety Mike Edwards, generally a reserve, has been a bright spot for the Buccaneers unit. He should also see his role expand more and more going forward.

Edwards was one of the unsung heroes for the Buccaneers during their Super Bowl championship run in 2020, performing with great aplomb when called upon when the team needed him most. In training camp, Edwards looked like a true ballhawk safety, intercepting seemingly every pass thrown his way, including one incredible circus catch, which was just another example of his great nose for the ball. So far in 2021, that nose has kept sniffing.

In the Buccaneers’ week two win against the Atlanta Falcons, Edwards was able to record two pick-sixes in a four minute span in the fourth quarter. In doing so, Edwards joined  Ronde Barber as the only two players in Bucs history to record two pick-sixes in a single regular-season game. Of course Dwight Smith also did it in Super Bowl XXXVII as well.

Edwards also becomes just the tenth player in NFL history to have two pick-sixes in the same quarter, the last being the New York Jets’ Otis Smith in 1997, against the Bucs ironically enough, shoutout Trent Dilfer. For those keeping score, Edwards has become the 27th player ever with two pick-sixes in a game in NFL history, and the first since then-Tennessee Titans linebacker Zach Brown in the 2012 regular season.

Related Story. Other way the Bucs made history in week two. light

Historical anecdotes now out of the way, let’s talk present and future.

Despite the miraculous job done by General Manager Jason Licht and company, the Bucs aren’t completely out of the woods salary cap-wise. 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 fellow 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. So far in 2021, Edwards has been making history while Whitehead’s health has been a mystery.

The Buccaneers’ secondary has certainly been suspect so far in 2021, particularly the corners. At safety though, the Bucs appear to have two young studs, even if one of them in Mike Edwards has been primarily a reserve. If he keeps it up though, that may change sooner rather than later.

Next. Some help could be on the way down the road. dark