The 2020 season saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive line put everything together. Even with a backup guard during the Super Bowl, they proved themselves worthy. In order to have continued success, the Buccaneers need to keep continuity on the line and ensure the protection of Tom Brady.
Returning On Contract
For the 2021 NFL season, the Buccaneers are retaining all their starting offensive lineman. The trenches remain intact. Highlighting the group is recent draftee Tristan Wirfs. His stellar performance this year was no fluke. He showed up every single snap. Also on a contract beyond 2021 is Ali Marpet, Marpet ranked seventh out of 80 guards according to Pro Football Focus (PFF, subscription required).
Among the returning players, three are in the last year of their contract. Ryan Jensen returns at center, Alex Cappa at guard, and Donovan Smith at tackle. If a priority is placed on these three Smith is candidate number one. Having improved greatly he played very well all the way through to the Super Bowl. Extending him now maybe in the Buccaneers’ best interest. Jensen and Cappa are a close second. The advantage that should aid the Buccaneers in looking to extend a player this year is the fact that Cappa is only 26 years old.
Two of these players may be extended this offseason. Especially if it helps the Buccaneers cap situation.
Free Agent: Aaron Stinnie
Though not a household name, Aaron Stinnie showed up when it counted the most. Subsequently, filling in and starting he put in a performance to remember as he became a Super Bowl champion. Stinnie deserves to come back. Retaining him adds needed depth.
The Way Forward
Jason Licht, a brilliant general manager may be looking two steps ahead in this category. The draft may be where he finds his answer. A mid-round pick may be used to draft a replacement for one of the three on their last year who may not be coming back in 2022. Cappa himself was a third-round selection.
If the Buccaneers want to repeat the offensive line will be key. In order to keep the unit strong, the depth has to be there for the emergency case of an injury. At this point there are a few players still on the roster or signed to future/reserved contracts that the team will have plenty to evaluate for the final roster and practice squad.