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2024 Buccaneers Free Agent Focus: Aaron Stinnie

Guard Aaron Stinnie, who has played the last three seasons in Tampa on one-year deals, is a potential free agent again after taking over as the team's starting left guard in 2023


On more than one occasion in his NFL career, Aaron Stinnie has had to wait awhile for his shot, and then has made the most of it when it came around.

Originally an undrafted free agent out of James Madison with the Tennessee Titans in 2018, Stinnie had played in a grand total of 12 games before the 2020 postseason, with zero starts. By this time, he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose starting offensive line in 2020 had performed very well and mostly avoided the injury bug. Reserve linemen Joe Haeg and A.Q. Shipley had seen a bit of action when Ali Marpet suffered a concussion and swing tackle Josh Wells made one start for an injured Donovan Smith in December. Stinnie, meanwhile, pulled a grand total of 30 offensive snaps during the regular season.

The Bucs' luck up front changed in the playoffs when starting right guard Alex Cappa fractured an ankle in a Wild Card game at Washington. Stinnie finished that win and then stepped into the starting lineup for the rest of the team's run to the Super Bowl LV championship. He received rave reviews from the Bucs' coaching staff for keeping the offensive line from seeing a dip in play after Cappa's departure.

That strong postseason showing earned Stinnie a chance to compete with Cappa for that right guard spot in the Bucs' 2021 training camp, but the incumbent held onto his job. Cappa did leave for the Bengals in free agency the next year but Stinnie didn't get a chance to claim that spot because he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason. He returned to the active roster in 2023 but was now a reserve behind rookie right guard Cody Mauch and free agent import Matt Feiler at left guard.

As such, after that strong 2020 playoff run, Stinnie had made exactly one more start from 2021through late October of 2023. Then came a foot injury for Feiler, thrusting Stinnie back into the starting five. When Feiler was eventually cleared to play, Stinnie held onto the job anyway and made 13 starts, including the postseason.

Now Stinnie is one of 18 players from Tampa Bay's 2023 roster who could become unrestricted free agents on March 13, and it's not likely the team will be able to retain all of them for the 2024 season. Priorities on that list will be set and pursued. And so, in the weeks leading up to the start of the new league year, we are going to look at 10 players who are currently poised to become unrestricted free agents in mid-March. This is the full schedule of our 2024 Free Agent Focus rundown:

• February 14: QB Baker Mayfield

• February 16: S Antoine Winfield Jr.

• February 21: RB Chase Edmonds

• February 23: K Chase McLaughlin

• February 28: WR Mike Evans

• March 1: DL Will Gholston

• March 5: G Aaron Stinnie

• March 6: LB Devin White

• March 7: WR David Moore

• March 8: LB Lavonte David

This list is subject to change based on potential roster moves in the coming weeks. However, we will continue today with one of the Bucs' five starting O-Linemen from 2023.

Player: Aaron Stinnie

Position: Guard

Age at the Start of the 2024 Season: 30

Experience: Entering seventh NFL season

How Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Titans in November of 2019.

Previous Contract(s): Stinnie originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Titans in 2018, signing a three-year deal that May. He was waived at the end of the preseason the next summer and added to the Titans' practice squad, but he was quickly signed back to the active roster, agreeing on a new two-year deal. When the Buccaneers claimed him off waivers later that season, they inherited the remainder of that two-year deal. That contract carried through the 2020 season and Stinnie has since signed a series of three on-year contracts for 2021-23.

Rank in Pro Football Focus Top 200 NFL Free Agents for 2023: Not ranked.

2023 Performance: As noted, Stinnie's second opportunity to start arose in Week Seven when Feiler suffered an injury that would sideline him for a month. Stinnie stepped in at right guard and was soon lauded for his work by the coaching staff, particularly in regards to his rugged run blocking. While the Buccaneers still finished the season with a low-ranked rushing attack, that part of the team's offense did improve in the second half of the season.

Once he got onto the field with the offense, Stinnie never came back off. He played all 851 of the Bucs' offensive snaps from a Week Eight contest in Buffalo through the team's Divisional Round playoff loss at Detroit. Stinnie's blocking helped second-year back Rachaad White fall just 10 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard rushing season and gave Baker Mayfield time to operate in an impressive 4,000-yard bounce-back season. The Buccaneers ranked 14th in sacks allowed per pass play, at 7.04%.

Career Accomplishments: After getting his first extended opportunity to start in 2023, Stinnie has now played in 31 regular season games with 12 starts, all 12 of which came with the Buccaneers. He has also appeared in seven games with five starts in the postseason and was a starter for Tampa Bay in its Super Bowl LV win over Kansas City at the end of the 2020 campaign.

He played in four games for the Titans after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and again in 2019. In 2023 he was part of an offense that improved by two points per game over the previous season. In the three games that he started in the 2020 playoffs, the Buccaneers allowed only three sacks of quarterback Tom Brady while running for 116.0 yards per game.

Other Potential Free Agent Guards: Kevin Dotson (Rams), Robert Hunt (Dolphins), Kevin Zeitler (Ravens), Dalton Risner (Vikings), Ezra Cleveland (Jaguars), Damien Lewis (Seahawks), Jon Runyan (Packers), Jonah Jackson (Lions), John Simpson (Ravens), Graham Glasgow (Lions), Greg Van Roten (Raiders)

Top Interior Offensive Line Prospects in 2024 NFL Draft: Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon), Graham Barton* (Duke), Troy Fautanu* (Washington), Zach Frazier (West Virginia), Sedrick Van Pran (Georgia), Christian Haynes (Connecticut), Christian Mahogany (Boston College), Cooper Beebe (Kansas State), Tanor Bortolini (Wisconsin), Isaiah Adams (Illinois), Zak Zinter (Michigan), Kiran Amegadjie* (Yale), Layden Robinson (Texas A&M)

* Potential conversions from tackle

Take a look at some of the best photos of the Buccaneers' offense from the 2023 season.

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