The Ndamukong Suh-Jason Pierre-Paul era has officially come to a close for the Buccaneers with the signing of Akiem Hicks.
All good things come to an end at some point. It’s hard to believe that the Buccaneers are turning the page after so much success during the last few years with their veteran core, but getting younger is the name of the game in the modern NFL.
There were younger, and more importantly, cheaper, options out there than Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul for the Bucs. That is the only reason why they are no longer on the team.
Neither is a bad player. In fact, both can still find competitive teams to contribute on, but what they brought to the table for the Bucs relative to their age and pay just didn’t meet the standard of a team that is looking to win its second Super Bowl in three years.
Akiem Hicks replaces Suh on the defensive line, and the front seven just got much better if Hicks is able to stay healthy. This might be a big if when looking at the last few years and Hicks’ foul injury luck, but perhaps a lighter role on the Buccaneers with a bit of supporting depth should make things easier to manage.
Replacing Suh should feel weird for Bucs fans, even if it is obviously the right decision. What Suh has done for Tampa over the course of the past three years is nothing short of special. The defense was terrible when he and JPP showed up. While they weren’t the only reasons for a change, their veteran leadership and high levels of play certainly played a role in a major turnaround.
The era is over. This important period will be something that Bucs fans remember forever as one of the craziest times in franchise history. There are still plenty of veterans from those teams that aren’t going anywhere, but this is the start of a natural trend that isn’t going to slow down.
Despite not being fits for the Ring of Honor, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul have left a clear mark on the Buccaneers that will last long after their careers in the NFL are done. The era might be over, but influence from this duo is absolutely still going to play a role in their absence.
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