The Buccaneers need to protect their offensive line above all else in free agency.
The Bucs put all their chips on the table to capitalize on the Brady window and attempt to “go for two” as Super Bowl champions, if not more. That being the case, Jason Licht and the rest of the front office had to use the approach of “kicking the can down the road“ when it comes to the salary cap. Now, the chickens have come home to roost and it’s not looking like the Buccaneers will be able to retain everyone again. The team currently has $19.4 million in cap space, which puts them squarely in the middle of the league.
However, they also have a huge amount of veterans set to be free agents, most notably Chris Godwin, Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, Alex Cappa, and Jordan Whitehead just to name a few. Of course, there are also all of the veterans along the defensive line we listed on the previous slide. So yea, the Buccaneers have their work cut out for them.
Also mentioned on the previous slide was how games are won and lost in the trenches, and that was quite evident during Super Bowl LVI.
Joe Burrow became the first quarterback in NFL history to lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance while also being the most sacked quarterback in the league. His greatness was able to overcome it, but sooner or later it was going to come back to bite the Bengals. Burrow was unable to escape Aaron Donald when the game was on the line, and on the final play had J’Marr Chase wid open down the sidelines which would have given them the lead. Instead, the Bengals are settling for second place.
The point of this is, it doesn’t matter how great your quarterback is if he can’t stay upright. Try this stat on for size, Tom Brady was sacked 22 times the entire regular season while Burrow was sacked 19 during the Bengals’ four playoff games. That should tell you all you need to know.
This being the case, using the limited amount of cap space the Bucs have to work with (for now) retaining Alex Cappa and Ryan Jensen HAVE to be the two players with the highest priority when it comes to re-signings. They can’t afford to blow money on interchangeable skill positions like running back. The Buccaneers obviously have to figure out their quarterback situation as well, but it may not matter much if they can’t protect him and give him a chance. This brings us to…