The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who memorably only had one Pro Bowler on the 2020 roster that won Super Bowl LV, will be sending at least five players to the all-star game this year, including the majority of their offensive line.
The NFL announced the initial AFC and NFC rosters for the 2022 Pro Bowl on Wednesday night and it included these five Buccaneers:
- OLB Shaquil Barrett
- QB Tom Brady
- C Ryan Jensen
- G Ali Marpet
- T Tristan Wirfs
Tristan Wirfs was designated as a starter for the game, meaning he is regarded as one of the top two offensive tackles in the NFC this season, as determined by a combined vote by fans, coaches and players.
The NFL also revealed that three other Buccaneers were first alternates for the roster and another five were additional alternates. These players may eventually be added to the Pro Bowl roster if other selections at their positions can't play due to injury or advancement in the playoffs.
The Buccaneers' first alternates are:
- WR Mike Evans
- ILB Devin White
- S Antoine Winfield, Jr.
The other alternates are:
- G Alex Cappa
- RB Leonard Fournette
- WR Chris Godwin
- TE Rob Gronkowski
- DL Vita Vea
The Buccaneers' five Pro Bowl selections are their most since 2015. This is the eighth time Tampa Bay has had five or more players in the all-star game, along with 1997 (eight), 1998 (five), 1999 (six), 2000 (nine), 2001 (six), 2002 (seven), 2015 (five).
Brady was one of five Pro Bowl selections announced by the league on Monday, and that honor makes him the first 15-time Pro Bowler in NFL history. Brady had been tied with Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen for the most career Pro Bowl selections. This is the second Pro Bowl nod for Shaquil Barrett, both during his three seasons as a Buccaneer; he was also chosen in 2019 after leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks.
The Bucs' trio of Pro Bowl offensive linemen, on the other hand, are all going to the all-star game for the first time in their respective careers. The Buccaneers have felt that Marpet was worthy of the honor for years and have been very happy with the 2018 free agency acquisition of Jensen, who started his career in Baltimore. Wirfs, the 13th-overall selection in the 2020 draft, was a rookie sensation for the Super Bowl champs and needed only two seasons to get the all-star call. Wirfs is just the eighth player in franchise history to make a Pro Bowl in one of his first two seasons, joining linebacker Hugh Green (1983), fullback Mike Alstott (1997), running back Warrick Dunn (1997), kicker Martin Gramatica (2000), kick returner Clifton Smith (2008), running back Doug Martin (2012) and quarterback Jameis Winston (2015).
This is the first time Tampa Bay has had even one offensive lineman in the Pro Bowl since 2015, when guard Logan Mankins got the honor in his final NFL campaign. The Buccaneers have never had three offnesive lineman in the same Pro Bowl before; the 2000 team, with center Jeff Christy and guard Randall McDaniel, was the only previous one with at least two.
Jensen and Wirfs are just the second Buccaneers center and tackle, respectively, to make the all-star game. Center Tony Mayberry was selected in three consecutive years from 1997-99, while tackle Donald Penn made it in 2010.
The Bucs' three Pro Bowl linemen, plus Cappa and left tackle Donovan Smith have formed arguably the best offensive line in the NFL in 2021. Tampa Bay has allowed the lowest sacks allowed per pass play rate (3.44%) and is ranked first on both the run blocking and pass blocking charts posted by Football Outsiders. All four of the Buccaneers' primary ballcarriers – Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, Giovani Bernard and Ke'Shawn Vaughn – have averaged 4.5 yards per carry or better.
Brady, meanwhile, leads the NFL in both touchdown passes (36) and passing yards (4,348), as he continues to build his untouchable G.O.A.T. resume at the age of 44. Barrett leads the Buccaneers with 9.0 sacks and 21 quarterback hits and is fourth in the league in sacks since joining Tampa Bay in 2019, with 36.5, second only to Aaron Donald (37.0) in the NFC.