Anyone who’s been to or just driven through Raymond James Stadium knows that each year, murals of some of the Bucs’ core players adorn the walls on every corner. When the new season arrives, new murals go up – almost as if it marks the return of football.
However, those player murals will definitely look different in 2023. This off-season has brought some significant changes to the group that you might consider the faces of the franchise.
Tom Brady, who has been a regular at the stadium side for the past three years after arriving via free agency in 2020, retired in February. Perhaps his name will be known soon inside from the Raymond James stadium in the Bucs Ring of Honor, but the Brady mural outside in the southwest corner of the stadium is going down soon.
Leonard Fournette, who appeared in the northeast corner last season following the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, was released in March. So there is another mural that needs to be replaced when the calendar turns into July.
Finally, there is the case of Devin White. While he is still a member of the Bucs and will still be in attendance this fall, his off-season trade request received a lot of publicity. As a result, his supply has plummeted with some believers in Tampa Bay. There are still some diehard fans of the young linebacker who will always stand behind him, but his approval rating is probably at an all-time low within the Bucs fanbase.
The fact that White is supposed to be a team captain doesn’t help, and decision makers may be hesitant to keep him as one of the prominent faces at the stadium in 2023. He feels less of a “franchise man.” these days, especially given his uncertain future after this season.
It would not be unprecedented that white would stay outside the stadium. It was a completely different situation, but the Bucs chose not to include Jameis Winston among the players featured on murals at the start of the 2018 season. Winston, the team’s quarterback at the time and previously a fixture at the stadium, faced a three-game suspension early that year.
White’s circumstances are, of course, not the same. But it would have felt a little awkward to see him playing on Ray Jay’s side this year (just as it would have been uncomfortable to see Winston there in 2018).
Who will join the wall pillars of the Bucs in 2023?
So, who could be seen on the corners of Raymond James Stadium in the new year? Assuming the Bucs continue the way things have been for the past few years — two players on each corner — there are eight spots.
Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Lavonte David and Vita Vea will definitely keep their spots. Evans and Godwin are the two who make the attack succeed. David is a team legend and Vea was captain for the first time in 2022 and remains one of the anchors of the Tampa Bay defenses. Shaq Barrett is also likely to keep his spot in the group. He is the best pass rusher on the team and one of the most established players on defense.
But who will replace Brady, Fournette and possibly White?
Tristan Wirfs has certainly earned his place. He is one of the best in the game at his position, and he is about to become a bigger leader for Tampa Bay this year.
Wirfs is about to move from right tackle to left tackle, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be the same dominant force he has been for the first three years of his career. He will be in the Bucs’ plans for a long time to come, so seeing him in their home stadium could become a regular occurrence.
Beyond Wirfs, the other spots are a little less obvious. It feels like the defense is represented by the last two spots rather than the offense. Anthony Winfield Jr. should have a case just like Carlton Davis III and Jamel Dean. Could all three be placed on a corner of the stadium to show the secondary? Picking just two out of three defensive backs is tough, especially after Dean’s decision to sign for another four years.
What do you think, Pewter people? Who should everyone see at Ray-Jay this fall as they drive up and down Dale Mabry Highway and Himes Avenue? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.