If the Buccaneers are finding themselves in a cash-strapped position without Tom Brady returning the team could make drastic moves. One of those moves could be to trade Ryan Jensen and compile some draft picks while allowing for Robert Hainsey to become the clear-cut starter at center.
In his first full year of duties Robert Hainsey showed that he has the capability to perform at a high level. During the 2022 season he logged in 1,175 snaps while playing in each regular season game at center. Of those snaps 800 were pass blocking snaps according to PFF. For those 800 snaps Hainsey only allowed 20 pressures all season. None of those were sacks and only seven of which were quarterback hits. This was a great performance all around by the third round draft pick from Notre Dame.
With this performance in the books he could be a starter on almost any team. Only six other centers graded higher than he did this year by PFF standards.
The Comeback Kid
Jensen, after a horrible knee injury did something most people would not have expected this season. He returned. Now it was just for the playoff loss but he showed he could come back and play. So looking at his last complete season and overall career Jensen is still every bit a starter in this league. In 2021 he only allowed 21 pressures all season. Two of those were sacks and five were quarterback hits. That was on 786 pass blocking snaps.
These stats alone and the fact that he returned should be enticing for a team in need of a center.
I understand that Jensen is a huge fan favorite. He’s for sure one of mine. But putting on my general manager hat for a moment I have to consider some things.
First, Hainsey showed he can start. So is it in the teams and his best interest to push him back in the depth chart or put him back at guard? Or, is it better that he stay at center and start? Second, given the situation at left guard it looks as though Nick Leverett can start for the Buccaneers in 2023. This means Luke Goedeke can be coached up further while filling in as depth. Third and additionally, draft stock and wiggle room in the cap will provide for more depth to be added to the offensive line. Weather that’s through free agency or the draft.
If Tom Brady is not coming back this may be a way to start modifying the roster for 2023 and beyond. Hell, maybe Brady would be ok with taking snaps from Hainsey if it meant we freed up space and got some more assets for him. Maybe trade both Jensen and Donovan Smith and get the team a top notch left tackle.
Trading Jensen prior to his roster bonus hitting would allow the Buccaneers to unload a $15 million dollar cap hit in 2023. He’s due $12.5 million in base salary and a $2.5 million signing bonus. For 2024 the Buccaneers would clear another $15 million off the books. Along with those two active years his voidable years in 2025 and 2026would go with him.
This clears cap space that will be needed in the rebuild.
As a general manager you’re forced to make decisions that don’t sit well within the walls of your organization or with the fan base. This very well could be one. Sometimes you must endure some small pain in order to facilitate real growth and a large return on investment. This could be one of those moves. I would seriously consider it.
The Aftermath with AJ & Slick
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