It appears the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are considering a move for Tristan Wirfs that could impact the future of another long-time starting tackle.
Everyone in Tampa Bay knows that the Buccaneers are facing an offseason of potentially massive change. It seems hyperbolic, but the team that fans have watched for the last three seasons will look very different when the season kicks off this year, and some key pieces sound like they’re going to be moving.
Some of those pieces are moving on. Tom Brady announced his retirement — if not from the NFL then from the Bucs — back in February, something that started a chain reaction fans knew was coming but dreaded the day of its arrival.
After Brady’s retirement Leonard Fournette asked for and was granted a release by the team, Cameron Brate was given a pink slip, and the Bucs began looking long and hard at its roster and the $55 million in cap space it needs to shed when the new league year begins on March 15th.
With guys like Fournette and Brate already cap casualties, another name to watch is left tackle Donovan Smith. He had one of the worst seasons of his career last year and is a candidate to be released to both freshen up the offensive line and get his money off the Bucs’ books.
If Smith is moved, which would come as a relief to fans, it raises the question of who would replace him.
One potential solution would be to move Tristan Wirfs from right tackle to the other end of the offensive line. It’s a move that has been rumored among Bucs fans and writers recently, but has now reached the mainstream.
Buccaneers news: NFL insider hints at potential move for Tristan Wirfs
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted a potential move to right tackle for Wirfs recently, noting that all involved in the decision seem comfortable with the idea.
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have discussed the possibility of moving All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs to the left side. Wirfs would have to be comfortable with that, but the early belief is he’ll be open to the possibility. Veteran Donovan Smith has one year left on his deal with a $17.9 million cap hit, so the team needs to sort out his future."
For what it’s worth, Wirfs talked about a potential move to left tackle while he was still at Iowa.
“When I first started flipping back and forth, I think I was trying to look for a big difference. Honestly, the only thing different is you got your other hand down. It just feels awkward at first but once you settle in it feels fine,” Wirfs said, via Pewter Report. “It kinda feels like wiping your butt with your other hand. It just feels a little awkward at first, but you get used to it.”
That doesn’t sound like a guy too worried about a drop off in performance if he has to switch positions next season.
It’s a risky move, but Wirfs is one of the most athletic tackles in the league and one of the best at what he does. Moving him from the right side of the line to one of the most important positions in football seems like a move that would offer benefits on a number of different levels.
Wirfs anchoring the left side would offer the sort of protection for Kyle Trask — or who ever is the quarterback — that even Tom Brady wasn’t afforded. Tampa Bay would have a key piece locked in for the future at a critical position, and it would also allow the team to move off Smith and both his massive contract and frustrating play.
It’s a win-win, even with the risks involved, and a move that seems like it’s being manifested into reality as the Bucs chart a course for the future.