NFL analysts not thrilled with Key Bucs’ move into Free Agency

While 2023 is a new chapter for the Bucs, don’t close the book just yet.

Head coach Todd Bowles said it best at the NFL annual meeting on Tuesday about how the team will embrace change and move forward following the retirement of Tom Brady, a move seen by many as closing the Super Bowl window of the season. team.

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

“It’s a change. Every time you lose the all-time greatest, that’s a big presence leaving your team,” Bowles said. “That doesn’t mean the closet is empty if you lose someone like that. You have to win in different ways, and we have good players in our football team who understand that… how we win in the future.”

Two of the Bucs’ biggest moves that signal their approach for the upcoming season include adding quarterback Baker Mayfield and re-signing linebacker Lavonte David.

The team got a lot of value through both trades, guaranteeing Mayfield just $4 million, the lowest among veteran quarterbacks signing new contracts in the NFC South.

While a former Buc is debatably a Ring of Honor candidate, re-signing a future inductee to Lavonte David was just as important, if not more important. David will remain captain of center of defense for another season for just $7 million, a bargain for the contributions he continues to make on and off the field.

Shouldn’t the Bucs’ front office get a lot of credit for how they’ve managed to take steps to keep the ship afloat and fire the guns next season? Well according to ESPN’s NFL Free Desk Figures for 2023 until now (ESPN+ subscription required), these moves are viewed differently on a national scale.

ESPN reviews Lavonte David re-signing with Bucs

Reviewed and analyzed by ESPN analysis writer Seth Walder and NFL draft analyst Matt Miller, both moves only got a C+.

Their comments on both moves show just how quickly the Bucs are counting down next season. Walder began by commenting on Lavonte David’s re-signing.

Bucs Ilb Lavonte David

Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I always loved David, a permanently underrated linebacker who excels at reporting. As with other Buccaneers moves, this figure is less a reflection of the player and more about the Bucs’ situation. Signing David to a one-year contract in line with the linebacker market this offseason certainly makes sense for a team trying to win the Super Bowl. But I don’t see how that relates to the Bucs, who have Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask at quarterbacks.

“For Tampa Bay, this contract costs $7 million that it could spend next year or the year after that when it could be a contender again. Plus the late-round offsetting pick the Bucs would likely get if David signed elsewhere is gone. I continue to believe that rebuilding Tampa Bay is the right move.”

This is an interesting look at David returning to the team for a few reasons. For starters, David is an integral part of the team. He is the team’s defensive captain, locker room leader, an accomplished presence, and continues to be one of the most prolific players at his position, as his 85.1 PFF rating was third among 81 ranked linebackers. On paper, his 124 tackles last season were his highest since 2015.

Would the Bucs trade all of that for just one compensating choice? If he leaves with a similar deal, how would that affect player and fan morale? Bringing him back won’t make the team a Super Bowl contender, but it will keep someone who knows what it takes to win.

Spending just $7 million on a player with David’s pedigree is an investment on and off the field. Especially in terms of team chemistry and culture. Remember, it was David and Devin White that held a dinner for the defense during the season to get on the same wavelength.

Baker Mayfield signs with Bucs labeled an “interesting move”

In terms of the Bucs’ signing of Baker Mayfield, Miller’s analysis of the deal is dizzying: “Let’s start by acknowledging that the Bucs didn’t really have great options. Not having a quarterback And no money is not a great place to be and a result of going all in with Tom Brady. It’s fine, it was worth it. But here they sign Mayfield, one of the least valuable players in the NFL last season.”

Bucs Qb Baker Mayfield

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield – Photo by: Cliff Welch//PR

That part is all fine, as Mayfield mostly struggled with both the Panthers and Rams in 2022. But he went on to say which quarterbacks would have given the team more “advantage”.

“I would have rather shot a shot at Gardner Minshew or Jacoby Brissett, who I think at least have an advantage.”

Wait a second. Is Miller actually saying Mayfield did that? No upside down? Say what you will about him, but that’s laughable. It can be argued that he has the most advantage of the three, as it was one of five things he will take to the Bucs, as Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds said.

The last part of Miller’s analysis is the most controversial and could upset Bucco Bruce’s cap: “For me, the best way for the Bucs to become a contender again is to tear it down and rebuild it, save as much money as possible and all the design capital take what they can. That means trading with players like Mike Evans, Shaquil Barrett, Devin White, and maybe even Vita Vea.

“If Tampa Bay plays out 2023 with Mayfield at QB, it’s just burning money it could use going forward…all for a few petty wins in a non-combatant season.”

Like David, Evans isn’t going anywhere. He is rated as highly by the organization, more than any draft pick. The team won’t embark on a full teardown either, as it still has a chance in an NFC South fraught with question marks. Each team will have roughly the same talent at quarterback, and the core of the Bucs that brought Brady to Tampa Bay remains largely intact.

Bucs HC Todd Bowles sees moves differently

Despite all the talk about rebuilding, Bowles doesn’t want to hear it. He commented much more favorably on both moves to reporters on Tuesday.

Bucs Hc Todd Bowles

Bucs HC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Well, number one, he can play,” Bowles said of why re-signing David is so important. “We’re not going to have a man who can’t play. I think everyone points to his leadership for us, I think so [his] play in the first place. He’s still a very good footballer and that’s why we brought him back, number one.

“His leadership and Devin’s leadership are critical for us to move forward defensively [Antoine] Winfield and Vita [Vea]. Those guys bring a lot to the table, and they teach you how to be professional, and you don’t want to let those guys down. So it’s important for us to have him back.”

Commenting on Mayfield, Bowles added that his addition gives the team “some competitive juice”.

“Baker won in college, he went to the playoffs as a pro and he brings us a lot of leadership,” said Bowles. “I think this style of attack will suit him really well, and I think it’s going to be a good battle between him and Trask to see who can win it.”

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