Skip to main content
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2023 State of the Bucs: Safeties 

Taking a position-by-position breakdown as the Buccaneers head into the 2023 season wrapping-up with safeties 

State of Bucs safeties

Position Group: Safety 

Players: Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan, Keanu Neal, Dee Delaney, Nolan Turner

2022 Evaluation: The Bucs' safeties collectively produced five of the team's 10 interceptions in 2022 and three safeties ranked among Tampa Bay's top six tacklers: Mike Edwards (82), Antoine Winfield Jr. (80) and Keanu Neal (61). Of the bunch, Edwards concluded the season with the most interceptions of the unit with two.

Edwards, Winfield Jr. and Neal played the majority of snaps in the Bucs' backfield, with Edwards accounting for 94% of the club's defensive snaps and Winfield Jr. finishing with 88%. Both missed several games due to injury but solidified the last line of defense when on the field. Overall, the Bucs pass defense concluded the year ninth overall, allowing 203.6 yards on average through the air. 

Edwards played in 13 games with a career-high 12 starts last season, missing one game with an elbow injury and three more due to a hamstring strain. He got the chance to start in 2022 when Jordan Whitehead left in free agency to the Jets, and he took advantage of the opportunity. Edwards came in third on the team with a career-best 82 tackles, adding three tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback hits, two interceptions and three passes defensed. His two picks tied Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting for a team-best in 2022. Most notably, Edwards was the lone Buccaneer to score a defensive touchdown in 2022, notching a 68-yard fourth-quarter pick six at New Orleans in Week Two which sealed the 20-10 Bucs' victory against their division nemesis. Last season, the Bucs' safeties were used interchangeably, with Edwards manning 55.9% of his snaps at deep safety and 26.2% in the box. 

Winfield, the Bucs' second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, developed into a versatile chess piece, possessing the awareness to line up over the top and the physicality to play in the slot. He filled a variety of roles for the Bucs in 2022, lining up at centerfield to clean things up in the back of the team's base 3-4 and emerged as the Bucs' slot-option in nickel packages. Safety had been Winfield's primary position during his first two seasons in the NFL, but he showcased the ability to line up in the slot and cover, blitz, and to set the edge vs. the run. Winfield displayed both his range and athleticism at free safety and his physicality/intelligence in the slot. He finished the 2022 season with 80 tackles, seven tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, six quarterback hits, one interception, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. 

The Bucs' utilized three-safety looks, incorporating both Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan in a rotational capacity to maximize their position flex. Neal, who was thrust into action following Ryan's injury in Week Four, finished the year with 61 tackles, two tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks, five quarterback hits, one interception and four passes defensed in eight game starts (17 games played). Ryan, who missed significant time with a foot injury, accumulated 38 tackles, one tackle for loss, one interception and three passes defensed. 

Dee Delaney served as a reserve option, primarily contributing on special teams in 2022. He totaled two tackles for loss and 25 tackles in 17 games played. 

2023 Outlook: The Bucs face a potential-depleted secondary with Mike Edwards, Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal impending free agents. In addition, Dee Delaney is an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he has fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. Edwards, one of eight defenders for the Bucs' who posted at least 400 defensive snaps in 2022, will vie for his second NFL contract either with the Bucs or with another interested suitor. Neal and Ryan were acquired last offseason to boost competition and to help fill the void left by Jordan Whitehead. The Buccaneers have several key decisions ahead in building their secondary, as they are poised to potentially lose both cornerstone pieces and depth options.

Related Content

win monthly prizes, download the app and turn on push alerts to score

Download the Buccaneers app and turn on push alerts for your chance to win

Latest Headlines