3 Reasons Buccaneers might not repeat as NFC South Champs in 2024

It's going to be an uphill battle for the Buccaneers to win their fourth straight division championship this year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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New signings and rookie class struggle early in starting lineup

With the retentions of several key players and the additions of a couple of potential difference-makers, the Buccaneers got better in the offseason. Still, Tampa Bay lost a few notable players who's departures does weaken the team. Most notably, the Bucs lost outside linebacker Shaq Barrett to Miami and middle linebacker Devin White to Philadelphia in free agency.

While Barrett is entering his age-31 season and White was disgruntled and had no plans to return to Tampa Bay, both are significant losses to their linebacker core. Later, Tampa Bay traded starting cornerback Carlton Davis III to Detroit for their 2024 third-round pick, which they later spent on McMillan.

Between the losses of Barrett, White, and Davis III, Tampa Bay's defense is weaker and inexperienced than it has been in recent years. After making those moves, Tampa Bay drafted Alabama outside linebacker Chris Braswell and Georgia cornerback Tykee Smith in the second and third rounds of the draft, along with the aforementioned signings of Hall and Thomas.

In addition, Tampa Bay will return 2022 fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum in the secondary, along with 2021 fifth-round pick KJ Britt to their linebacker core. Between Braswell, Smith, McCollum, and Britt, Tampa Bay has clear replacements for Barrett, White, and Davis III. The question now becomes whether or not these players will be solid enough at their positions to give Tampa Bay a good enough defense to repeat as division champs.

This season alone, the Buccaneers' defense will slot up against Jared Goff, Jalen Hurts, Kirk Cousins (twice), Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Brock Purdy, Justin Herbert, and Dak Prescott, one of the tougher stretches of quarterbacks in the NFL. Without strong play from Braswell, Smith, McCollum, and Britt, Tampa Bay will be over reliant on their offense to win, which wasn't the case under Canales last season.

Ever since taking the head coaching job two years ago, head coach Todd Bowles has built Tampa Bay's division success on a strong and reliable defense. Without their veteran stalwarts in the front seven and secondary, the Bucs' identity may change in 2024, without strong play from Braswell, Smith, McCollum, and Britt.

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