What will the 2023 season bring for these Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
It's a new era. It's a brand-new look for the Bucs, and all it took was watching the greatest quarterback of all-time hang up his cleats. Now, the Bucs are left, still, with somewhat of a direction they can lean into.
With plenty of talent still on this roster, a lot of what success they might have does, indeed, depend on the quarterback position and how that shakes out during training camp.
There are also three specific players this Bucs team needs to stand out in 2023. They have a lot to prove, and if they rise to the occasion, then Tampa Bay should be just fine without Brady.
Shaquil Barrett, OLB
Remember the year Tampa Bay signed Shaquil Barrett after four mediocre seasons with the Denver Broncos? Barrett hadn't finished with more than 5.5 sacks in any of those seasons in Denver. Then, in his first year with the Bucs, he went on to lead the league with 19.5 sacks. It was a legitimate breakout, albeit a late one.
Barrett followed that year up with 8.0 sacks the following season, which is nothing to sneeze at. Then, in 2021, he got back into double digits with 10.0. However, last year, he totaled just 3.0 in eight games and missed nine games due to a torn Achilles.
We've seen reports this offseason that Barrett should be good to go by Week 1, thankfully. But, after producing just three sacks in half a season last year, is he going to be the guy we saw in that first season with Tampa? Can he even get back to double digit sacks? If the Bucs are going to compete for the NFC South title, they're going to need their sack leader for the last few years to revert to form.