Jamel Dean wants to become an experienced leader for Bucs
Over the past four years, Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean has steadily risen from an up-and-down rookie to a proven No. 2 cornerback – and borderline No. 1. His consistency between 2019 and 2022 has been remarkable, with Pro Football Focus numbers of respectively 76.4, 76.4, 71.8 and 77.9. And his outstanding 2022 season fell in a contract year, earning money while free agency.
It felt like the 2019 third round might have priced itself out of Tampa Bay, especially given the limit restrictions faced by the team. But as it turned out, Dean cashed in on a four-year, $52 million deal – from the Bucs. And while the prospect of continuing his collaboration with Carlton Davis III excites him and he’s happy to still play under head coach Todd Bowles, Dean is poised to be an experienced presence for the Bucs in 2023 and beyond.
“For me, I just feel like I want to take that next step of becoming a vet and developing the younger guys because I’ve seen how much I’ve grown. I see potential in the younger guys,” Dean said Thursday. “They just need a real vet. I feel like I didn’t have that for the first few years. I didn’t have a vet until my third year when we brought in Richard Sherman. I can see that really helped take my game to the next level, so I want to do the same thing that Richard Sherman did for me.
Jamel Dean is ready to lead after coming into a young high school
When he was called up in 2019, Dean was surrounded by other young cornerbacks. Davis himself had only been drafted a year earlier, as had MJ Stewart. Sean Murphy-Bunting was a 2019 co-designer. Vernon Hargreaves III was the only corner with significant NFL experience at the time, and he had his own share of the fray – which ultimately led to his mid-season release.
Even in 2020, Dean was part of a young secondary, albeit one that helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. He, Davis, Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards (another 2019 draftee) were essentially the “veterans” of the defensive backfield with the addition of rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr.
Then, as he mentioned in his press conference on Thursday, Dean had a real veteran presence to learn from during the 2019 season – his third year in the league. As injuries piled up in secondary, the Bucs brought Richard Sherman into the mix. Sherman soon had his own injury problems, but he served the team well in a coaching role. Dean, as well as other Tampa Bay defensive backs, have often spoken of the impact the former Seahawks All-Pro made during his time with the team.
It obviously had such an impact on Dean that he’s ready to play that role for the Bucs’ secondary for the next four years. That can start right away, as he can take 2022 fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum under his wing and help him as he tries to maximize his speed and athleticism at the NFL level. Not to mention, the Bucs will likely replace Murphy-Bunting this offseason and could try to capitalize on a deep cornerback class in the 2023 Draft. That would give Dean another young cornerback to work with and pass on his wisdom.
Dean will turn 27 during the 2023 season, as will Davis. Both of the Bucs’ top cornerbacks can lead the way on and off the field for what is sure to be a secondary with some new faces in the mix. Dean, in particular, has seen it all on a professional level. From his struggling debut in a Seattle starting position as a rookie to playing in a championship defense, he’s been through a lot in four years as a pro. For that reason, there’s no question that he can be the veteran leader he aspires to be.
Jamel Dean was in no rush to leave Bucs, Todd Bowles
When the Bucs’ 2022 season ended with a thud against the Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Round, it felt like Jamel Dean had played his last game with the team. Murphy-Bunting played over him in the game and although he was dealing with a foot injury and some kind of illness, it sounded like Dean was more of a coach decision.
“I just controlled what I could control. Like you said, it’s above me,” Dean told reporters after the game. “I was still just a team player.”
In terms of play, Dean has cemented himself as the CB2 of the team over the years. But he still took on second-team representatives during last year’s training camp and seemingly had to beat Murphy-Bunting for a starting job. He did, but between that and the way the season ended, it felt like the former Auburn Tiger was going to go elsewhere – earning a big payday and getting the chance to further cementing his status as a top corner in the league.
Instead, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Dean loves the city and state he played in for the first four years of his career. He loves the Bucs and wants to be a leader for them.
“I really didn’t want to leave, man. I was born and raised in Florida, I’m close to home, I feel comfortable,” Dean said. “So I was like ‘Why should I leave?'”
In addition, Dean cherishes his relationship with Bowles, who he said he turned to in 2019 when things weren’t going his way on the pitch. He asked the defensive mastermind to teach him the game of football, and he has evolved under him ever since. Dean was asked Thursday if staying with his one-year head coach and four-year defensive play-caller was a major deciding factor in his choice to re-sign with Tampa Bay.
“It was really big because me and he did a lot of work together. So, it’s like, why would I let another coach reap the benefits of what me and Bowles did? said Dean. “So that was very big because I only want to be coached by Bowles. He’s the one who taught me everything I know.”
So with a new contract, a newfound sense of responsibility as a leader, and the same trusted coach working alongside him, Jamel Dean is ready to take off to new heights for the Bucs.
#Jamel #Dean #experienced #leader #Bucs