** Opinion Editorial **
For all of those thinking that the Buccaneers training camp has a ghost, you can R-E-L-A-X. The ghost I’m talking about is a Buccaneer by the name William Gholston. There has been much talk this offseason from Gerald McCoy to Jameis Winston but Gholston has found a way to fly under the radar of fans, media, and coaches to stay on this roster thus far.
Gholston was selected in the fourth-round (#126 overall) of the 2013 NFL draft out of Michigan State. At a massive 6’6 280 pounds, he would seem to be unstoppable, but six years later it was the exact opposite. Since being drafted, the defensive end has a total of 234 tackles and 11 sacks; an average of 39 tackles and 1.8 sacks per season. In the spring of 2017, after consecutive seasons which produced 84 tackles, six sacks, and 17 tackles-for-loss, Gholston was rewarded a five-year $27.5 million contract extension with $9 million in signing bonuses. However, since receiving that contract, his numbers have sharply declined. He will receive $3.75 million in 2019, $4.75 million in 2020, and $5.5 million in 2021. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Here’s a highlight reel from 2017, courtesy of Buc It Productions. Highlights have been few and far between since then.
The Way I See It
This is Gholston’s last chance to prove his worth. He needs to dominate in Todd Bowles’ one gap attack defense. He has provided little to no pass rush off the edge and very small pass rush support from the middle. He’s been seen in games giving up at the point of attack if he doesn’t gain an advantage on his opponent. Instead, Gholston should be working around blocks and finding ways to get pressure on the quarterback. He will see a pay increase over the next two seasons and, from what I have seen on the field, is not worth the $3.5 million due. He is also coming off one of his worst seasons where he recorded only 10 total tackles and one sack in 16 games. The Buccaneers can cut Gholston and have no dead cap. He is a six-year veteran on this team and provides no leadership skills to coach rookies.
Trade for Trent
Gholston’s current and remaining salary cap could be used elsewhere to help with the team’s other shortcomings. One example is that the Washington Redskins long-tenured left tackle Trent Williams has lost all faith in his team and wants out. Williams has been solid for the Redskins since the day he was drafted. Using Gholston as a trade tool for Williams is good for three reasons: 1.) Tackle Demar Dotson is gone after 2019. 2.) Tampa Bay will have the cap space next season. 3.) Williams is a Pro Bowler.
Prove Bucs Nation Wrong
Gholston will probably remain on this roster for the season if he is not cut after the preseason. On the positive side, he does offer run support, but it is not consistent. Bowles has made playing interior defensive lineman for this team easy and fun because the job has been simplified and made to suit the players’ strengths. I do wish the best for him and hope he proves me wrong if he stays. But the way to win in this league is by two words that begin with “P”. Penetration and protection.
Spotrac, Pro Football Reference, Buccaneers.com