Buccaneers completely disrespected in latest ESPN projections

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baker Mayfield
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baker Mayfield / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

How many more times do the Tampa Bay Buccaneers need to win the NFC South to finally get more respect? Despite winning three straight division titles, the Buccaneers continue to get overlooked.

It's reasonable to expect more competition from the Atlanta Falcons after signing Kirk Cousins, while the New Orleans Saints will remain competitive in the division. But the Buccaneers have the potential to improve, too.

Tampa Bay retained several key starters this season, signing Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Lavonte David, and Antoine Winfield Jr. to new deals.

Jason Licht drafted well. On offense, Tampa Bay helped Mayfield by selecting center Graham Barton, running back Bucky Irving, and wide receiver Jalen McMillan, who is already turning heads this offseason.

However, the Buccaneers' quietly impressive offseason seemingly wasn't enough to increase expectations.

ESPN projections have Buccaneers missing playoffs in 2024

ESPN's Mike Clay has made his latest projections for the upcoming season, including player statistics and win/loss records. Let's focus on the latter.

Clay's projections have Tampa Bay winning 7.6 games with 9.4 losses, earning Todd Bowles' team the 10th overall selection in the 2025 NFL Draft. It would be an awful outcome after reaching the NFC's final four last year.

Worse yet, Carolina is just behind Tampa Bay with a projection of 7.5 wins and 9.5 losses, finishing with the ninth overall draft pick. Meanwhile, New Orleans' 8.8 wins is good for the 17th selection, while Atlanta's 9.4 victories land the fourth seed and division title.

Clay also graded every position group for all 32 NFL rosters. The Buccaneers have one of the deepest receiving corps in the league, but Clay has the group ranked 13th, below the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, and Seattle Seahawks.

Mike Evans has played 10 seasons in the NFL and literally never had less than 1,000 receiving yards. Chris Godwin has hit this milestone for three consecutive seasons and in four of the past five.

Is a top three of Evans, Godwin, and McMillan worse than Garrett Wilson, Mike Williams, and Xavier Gipson?

It's nothing new for the Buccaneers. They will once again get written off and predicted to land a top-10 draft pick, just like last season.

They will have to prove everyone wrong again.

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