No NFL roster remains the same from one season to the next, which means the 2021 Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be looking to defend their Super Bowl LV championship with a crew that necessarily has some changes. Free agency, of course, is the main avenue for player movement around the league, and that process begins with the arrival of the new league year on March 17.
The Buccaneers have two dozen players from their Super Bowl-winning roster who could become unrestricted free agents at 4:00 p.m. on that date, including seven who started in the title game and every single person who scored a point in that contest. If the Bucs hope to keep most of that championship core intact, they have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks and months.
As that process takes shape, we are going to look at the following 10 players who are currently poised to become unrestricted free agents on March 17:
February 16: ILB Lavonte David
February 19: WR Chris Godwin
February 23: RB Leonard Fournette
February 26: K Ryan Succop
March 2: DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches
March 5: QB Blaine Gabbert
March 9: WR Antonio Brown
March 12: TE Rob Gronkowski
March 15: OLB Shaquil Barrett
March 16: DL Ndamukong Suh
This list is subject to change based on potential roster moves in the coming weeks. However, today we examine one of the last players the Buccaneers added before the 2020 season began.
Player: Ryan Succop
Experience: Entering 13th NFL season
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent on September 1, 2020
Previous Contract(s): Succop played the 2020 season on the one-year deal he signed on the date above. He had been released in March by Tennessee after playing the first two seasons of a five-year contract he signed in 2018. He previously signed two contracts each with Tennessee and Kansas City, beginning with a three-year pact he got as a seventh-round draft pick with the Chiefs in 2009.
Rank in Pro Football Focus Top 200 NFL Free Agents for 2021: Not ranked. There are no kickers included on the PFF list, which was recently expanded from 150 to 200 players.
2020 Performance: Succop signed with the Buccaneers in the last full week of training camp, amid concerns about the consistency of incumbent kicker Matt Gay. Just four days later, the team waived Gay and elected to go with the veteran in the hopes that Succop would be a reliable week-to-week performer. He proved to be exactly that and, with the postseason included, had perhaps the best season ever by a Tampa Bay kicker.
Overall, Succop made 37 of his 40 field goal attempts in 2020, including the playoffs. He was 28 for 31 during the regular season, a success rate of 90.3% that ranked second in franchise history to Connor Barth's 92.9% in 2011. Succop converted all nine of his field goal tries in the Bucs' four-game run to the title and in fact has still not missed in 13 career postseason attempts. His success rate in 2020 with the playoffs included was 92.5%.
Succop was particularly reliable on kicks that coaches consider a sure thing in today's NFL, making all 20 of his attempts from inside 40 yards. His first attempt as a Buccaneer was a 54-yarder that was blocked, but he made his other two attempts from 50 and beyond, including a 50-yarder in a Week Six win over Green Bay and a 52-yarder in the Super Bowl. At one point during the regular season, Succop made 21 straight field goal tries.
Succop made 52 of his 57 extra point tries during the 2020 regular season and finished with 136 points scored, a new single-season record for the Buccaneers. He finished sixth in the NFL in points scored.
Career Accomplishments: Succop has played a dozen NFL seasons since the Chiefs made him the last pick in the 2009 draft, and in 11 of those campaigns he has appeared in all 16 games. The exception was the 2019 season in Tennessee, in which a knee injury limited him to six games and rendered him ineffective when he did play. That eventually led to his release the following March and made him available to the Buccaneers after he had fully recovered from that injury.
Overall, Succop has played in 182 games and has made 264 of his 318 career regular-season field goal attempts, a success rate of 83.0%. As noted above, he's 13 for 13 in the postseason. His 2020 field goal percentage of 90.3% was the second-highest single-season success rate of his career, but he's finished at 86% or better six times. He has made 390 of his 405 extra point tries.
Other Potential Free Agent Kickers: Randy Bullock (Cincinnati), Daniel Carlson (Las Vegas), Nick Folk (New England), Zane Gonzalez (Arizona), Stephen Gostkowski (Tennessee), Dustin Hopkins (Washington), Younghoe Koo (Atlanta), Cody Parkey (Cleveland), Matt Prater (Detroit), Cairo Santos (Chicago)
Top Kicker Prospects in 2021 NFL Draft: Evan McPherson (Florida), Jose Borregales (Miami), Blake Lynch (Kansas State), Quinn Nordin (Michigan), Riley Patterson (Memphis)