Now that Mike Edwards has decided to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs, how will the Tampa Bay Buccaneers replace him?
It’s been quite a whirlwind offseason for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to so far. First things looked rather dire, with the team needing to untangle a $55 million salary cap knot while also needing to address some key areas of the roster that might be turning over.
Tom Brady retired, Leonard Fournette asked for a release, and guys like Cameron Brate and Donovan Smith were cut loose.
Al of that set up an offseason that likely would be bleak at best. Jason Licht had other ideas, though, and turned what could have been a miserable offseason into one of the best any team in the league has turned in.
Not everything has gone the Bucs way, though. Despite re-signing Jamel Dean and Lavonte David the team lost starting safety Mike Edwards to the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday.
It’s a solid move for Edwards, who will play on a one-year contract in Kansas City and has the chance to showcase his skills to earn a huge payday next offseason. For the Bucs, though, the time has come to pick up the pieces and determine what the best course of action is to replace Edwards next season.
How will Buccaneers replace Mike Edwards in 2023?
Edwards was vastly underrated during his time with the Bucs, and started to truly come into his own with a career year last season. The safety room belongs to Antonine Winfield Jr., but replacing Edwards won’t be easy for the front office.
Here’s what the Bucs are replacing:
- 58 games played
- 184 tackles
- 7 interceptions
- 3 touchdowns allowed
The safety market isn’t plentiful this year, and the Bucs don’t have a ton of cash to spend anyway. Edwards signed a $3 million deal with the Chiefs, plus incentives, which seems like the sort of deal the Bucs could have matched if they were able to.
Not having enough funds to chase a free agent replacement, and without any depth on the roster, there are a few routes the Bucs can go.
Re-sign Logan Ryan or Keanu Neal
With Edwards signing with the Chiefs, the Bucs have zero strong safeties on the roster. Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal are free agents as well, but could be brought back as replacements for Edwards if the price is right.
That’s the key, though, as it cannot be overstated how careful the Bucs need to be with free agent spending. Ryan and Neal are both veterans who would keep some continuity on defense, but both came aboard to help Tom Brady try and win a Super Bowl. While the team has a made it clear that tanking is out of the question next season, this isn’t the squad either of them signed up for so it’s a matter of if they want to return to Tampa Bay or try and win a ring elsewhere.
Draft a replacement for Mike Edwards
Jamel Dean returning on a four-year, $52 million deal did a few things for the Bucs, not the least of which was widen the scope of what the team can do with the No. 19 overall pick this year.
Initially it seemed like the team might need to use it to replace Dean with a top rookie cornerback, but that doesn’t need to be in the plans anymore. Replacing Edwards, however, could be a way to use either the top pick or one of its higher second day picks.
First-round prospects like Brian Branch and Antonio Johnson could be options at No. 19, or the Bucs could hold out for Day 2 targets like Jordan Battle or Jamie Robinson.
Putting a young safety into the secondary could be a move that pays off long-term as well, with Winfield due for a big extension next year and the possibility of shoring up the safety position for years to come very much on the table for Tampa Bay.