Skip to main content
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Updates: March 2023

Keep informed with our daily updates: News, notes and more throughout the month of March

March 28 Updates

The Buccaneers sent a guard, a center and a tackle to the Pro Bowl following the 2021 season, yet somehow started the 2022 season seven months later with almost a brand new starting line. Left guard Ali Marpet unexpectedly retired shortly after his Pro Bowl appearance, right guard Alex Cappa left for Cincinnati in free agency and Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a significant knee injury on the second day of training camp. All-Pro right tackle Tristan Wirfs was still in his spot, as was stalwart left tackle Donovan Smith, though Smith would subsequently suffer an injury in Week One.

As such, by Week Two Wirfs could stare down a line populated by trade-acquisition Shaq Mason at right guard, second-year player Robert Hainsey at center, rookie second-rounder Luke Goedeke at left guard and veteran swing man Josh Wells at left tackle. The Bucs still managed to allow the fewest sacks in the NFL – Tom Brady's quick release undeniably helped in that endeavor – but struggled to find a ground game all season.

Now the Bucs' offensive line is facing the likelihood of some more shuffling in 2023, particularly if it's most decorated performer is needed at a new position.

That would be Wirfs, who emerged almost immediately as one of the NFL's best right tackles after being drafted 13th overall in 2020. He started for a Super Bowl champion as a rookie, won first-team All-Pro honors in 2021 and went back for a second consecutive Pro Bowl last season. With the Bucs electing to release Smith in March as part of their salary cap maneuvering, there is some thought that Wirfs could switch to the left end of the line. Head Coach Todd Bowles said that hasn't happened yet but could still be on the table depending upon the possible addition of more linemen.

"He's on the right right now," said Bowles. "As free agency goes on and the draft goes on, we'll try to make a decision somewhere around the line. We know he's a great right tackle; he can always right tackle. So we'll see going forward."

Goedeke's future could be a byproduct of where Wirfs ends up. A right tackle in college, Goedeke started his rookie season at left guard but suffered a foot injury six weeks in and didn't get his job back from Nick Leverett after his return. However, he did get a spot start at his college position to end the season when the Bucs rested most of their starters in a meaningless Week 18 game at Atlanta, and it went well enough to make that move a consideration in 2023. Goedeke is definitely in the team's plans for their starting five, one way or another.

"Luke started out learning," said Bowles. "I think he's a very physical football player. I think he's going to help us this year. He's going to play somewhere on the line; we're not quite sure of where yet. You really like him at guard, then he showed he can really play tackle at the end of the year. Depending on how the draft and the rest of free agency goes we'll kind of find one of the two spots for him, but it's good to have the versatility."

Meanwhile, Hainsey would presumably be on the move if Jensen is back in the lineup. The feisty veteran shockingly made it back from his knee injury in time to resume his spot at center when the Bucs made the playoffs, after Hainsey had held down that position during the entire regular season. Hainsey could be in line for a starting spot at one of the guard positions, along with the likes of Goedeke, Leverett and Aaron Stinnie.

"I thought Hainsey came a long way," said Bowles. "When Jensen went down I thought Hainsey did a very good job during the season. I think he's very versatile. I think he's a valuable piece for us. I think it goes very underrated the job he did from an intelligence and toughness standpoint. We know he can play guard as well. He'll be in the mix as far as doing some things we want to do with the center/guard combination when Ryan comes back. We just look forward to getting better and see where he goes, but I was very pleased with everything he did."

CLICK HERE for more thoughts from Coach Bowles on the Bucs' 2023 roster decisions and needs.

Among the proposed changes to the NFL's rules and bylaws being discussed at the Annual Meetings in Arizona this week is one submitted by the Detroit Lions which essentially aims to resurrect the "inactive third quarterback" rule the league used for two decades before striking it from the books in 2011. At that time, teams were permitted to have 45 active players and eight inactive players on game days, but one of those eight inactive players could be a designated third quarterback who could play in the game if needed. If he entered the game prior to the fourth quarter, the other two active quarterbacks would be prohibited from re-entering the game.

If there's a sudden nostalgia around the league for that rarely-enacted option available from 1991 through 2010, it springs from last season's NFC Championship Game, in which the San Francisco 49ers' offense was hamstrung by early injuries to quarterbacks Brock Purdy and Josh Johnson (and the absences of the already injured Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance). Philadelphia won easily, 31-7, as the 49ers essentially couldn't throw the ball after the first quarter. Under the old third-QB rule, San Francisco might have had a third passer available to them for that game.

The new rule proposed by the Lions is very similar to the old one, but it would require the two active quarterbacks to be officially ruled "out" for the remainder of the game due to injuries, and it has no specific fourth-quarter provision. It does provide a new option, however, that goes hand in hand with the revised practice squad eligibility rules the league has introduced in recent seasons, which allow weekly "elevations" from that unit for game days. If a team keeps only two quarterbacks on its active list for a game, it can designate a third quarterback, either on the list of inactives or on the practice squad, who could enter the game under the above circumstances. If the third quarterback is on the practice squad, his playing in the game would be considered a "standard elevation" but would not count against the three times he can be elevated during the season or the limit of two elevations for that game.

The Buccaneers couldn't currently take advantage of that new rule because they only have two quarterbacks on the active roster in Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield. Obviously, the team will be adding at least one more passer at some point before training camp (and probably before OTAs in May), and how the vote goes on the third-quarterback rule will help inform who the Bucs target for a third passer.

"There's room to add one," said Head Coach Todd Bowles from those meetings in Arizona. "Its early in the process. We'll see how the voting goes with this third quarterback to see what kind of quarterback you want to add. That will have a lot to do with it as well. We'll wait and see how this process goes and that will tell you whether you want to go young or old."

CLICK HERE to watch Coach Bowles' wide-ranging media session at the league meetings.

March 17 Updates

On Friday, the NFL announced the pending distribution of an additional $336 million in salary to a list of players for the 2022 based on the Performance-Based Pay program that was first introduced in the 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement. The payments are based on the players' playing time and salary and generally benefits players with higher percentages of playing time and lower salaries.

Buccaneers offensive lineman Robert Hainsey is one of the players set to receive a payment from the program; in fact, his pending allotment of $706,331 is the 13th-highest payment in the league this year. He is the only Buccaneer to rank in the top 25 on the list, which is headed by Philadelphia safety Marcus Epps ($880,384).

A third-round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2021, Hainsey was thrust into a starting role on the Buccaneers' offensive line when Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen suffered a serious knee injury on the second day of training camp. Hainsey went on to start all 17 regular-season games at center, playing 100% of the team's offensive snaps through the first 16 contests before departing a meaningless Week 17 outing in Atlanta after just 13 snaps. He was part of an offensive line that allowed a league-low 2.93% sacks-per-pass-play figure.

March 16 Updates

The Buccaneers released Donovan Smith on March 7 and thus, for the first time in nine years, are looking for a new starter at left tackle. A common theory outside of team headquarters is that Tristan Wirfs, the 2021 first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler at right tackle, was the franchise's left tackle-in-waiting, ready to flip sides as soon as the team moved on from the ironman Smith.

The idea has been discussed inside the AdventHealth Training Center, too, but it wasn't prompted by the recent roster move. It's an idea that's been on the table since Wirfs was taken 13th overall in the 2020 draft, but that doesn't mean it's necessarily coming to fruition in 2023.

"Ever since we drafted Tristan, we've talked about that," said General Manager Jason Licht. "I think right now it's just talk, but we have the offseason. We still have a lot of time here to see how this unfolds."

The second half of that theory, given the Bucs' current O-Line depth chart, would be to install 2022 second-round pick Luke Goedeke at right tackle, the position he played in college. The Buccaneers opened the season with Goedeke at left guard, but a foot injury and the ascendance of Nick Leverett ended that approach after six games. When the Buccaneers rested most of their starters in a meaningless Week 18 game against Atlanta, Goedeke started at right tackle and acquitted himself nicely.

"It's great that we think he can play both," said Licht of Goedeke's guard-tackle flexibility. "We're not making any decisions right now, today. Things could change in the matter of a couple days or a couple weeks. We've still got the draft coming up. But we're happy with the fact that we think that he can play both guard and tackle at a pretty high level."

If Goedeke were to get the call at right tackle, that would mean one less competitor for the two guard spots, but Licht says the Bucs have plenty of options for those spots, and a whole offseason to get more.

"I think we have a lot of depth and players that can actually start for us," said Licht, referencing Leverett, Robert Hainsey, Brandon Walton and Aaron Stinnie. "Now, we're going to continue to add there. We've got the offseason here, we've got the draft, we've got all the way up until our first game. We're not playing in two weeks, so we have a lot of time to do it. But we have a lot of confidence in these guys."

March 15 Updates

On Wednesday, CB Dee Delaney received a qualifying offer from the Buccaneers, making him an exclusive rights free agent as the new league year begins. An exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) is a player with an expiring contract but fewer than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. As an ERFA, Delaney cannot negotiate with other teams, and signing his qualifying offer converts it into a one-year contract for the 2023 season.

A versatile defender who has seen action at cornerback and safety for the Buccaneers over the past two seasons, Delaney played in all 18 games, playoffs included, in 2022, with one start at safety. He recorded 25 tackles and two tackles for loss. He had five stops and a tackle for loss in his lone start at safety against Pittsburgh in Week Six.

Delaney also played two-thirds of the Buccaneers snaps on special teams and contributed four kick-coverage tackles. The Buccaneers now have two exclusive rights free agents after also extending a qualifying offer to guard Nick Leverett last week.

CLICK HERE for a list of the Buccaneers who could become free agents on Wednesday.

March 10 Updates

The Buccaneers have extended the tender offer to Nick Leverett necessary to make him an exclusive rights free agent at the start of free agency next week. An exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) is a player with an expiring contract but fewer than two accrued seasons of free agency credit. As an ERFA, Leverett cannot negotiate with other teams, in contrast to restricted free agents (RFA), who have three seasons of accrued credit.

Leverett, who originally joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted rookie out of Rice in 2020, emerged as a starter on the Buccaneers' offensive line last season. He took over for injured rookie Luke Goedeke at left guard in Week Eight and started the final 10 contests, though he missed the Bucs' lone playoff contest due to knee and shoulder injuries.

Leverett spent all of his rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad in 2020, then made the active roster in 2021 and appeared in three games, including one in the postseason.

The Buccaneers have two players who could qualify as ERFAs if they receive the necessary tender offer; the other is cornerback Dee Delaney.

CLICK HERE for a list of the Buccaneers who could become free agents next Wednesday.


March 6 Updates

Buccaneers Legend Rondé Barber has decided who will present him at the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he is inducted with the Class of 2023 this summer, and it was the natural choice. Barber's Presenter at the enshrinement ceremony on August 5 in Canton, Ohio will be his twin brother, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber.

The Hall of Fame announced Barber's choice on Monday afternoon and Barber confirmed it minutes later in a tweet that read, "If you know me, you know there was no choice but @TikiBarber."

At the ceremony, Tiki will introduce his brother in a video segment before Rondé gives his speech to the crowd. After the speech has concluded, the two brothers will join each other in revealing Barber's new bronze bust by pulling off the cover.

The two Barber brothers played together at Virginia and they were both selected in the 1997 NFL Draft, Tiki by the Giants in Round Two and Rondé by the Buccaneers in Round Three. Tiki played 10 years in the NFL, all with the Giants, and earned three Pro Bowl invitations and one first-team AP All-Pro selection. He is New York's all-time leading rusher, finishing with 10,449 career yards and 55 touchdowns. He also caught 586 passes for another 5,183 yards and 12 scores and 1,181 yards on punt returns and 544 on kickoff returns. Tiki joins Hall of Famers Marcus Allen and Marshall Faulk as the only players in league history to run for 10,000-plus yards and catch passes for 5,000-plus yards, and he's the only one ever to do that and add at least 1,000 return yards.

Rondé believes Tiki is deserving of joining him in the Hall and plans to make that point in no uncertain terms.

"I've got a platform now to start talking about his candidacy more," said Rondé. "Running backs are getting the short end of the stick and I'm not sure why. I'll be glad to share my opinions about Tiki Barber, the New York Football Giants' all-time leading rusher. It's one of the storied franchises in the history of this game, of professional football, and he doesn't get much attention for his accomplishments."

CLICK HERE to hear Rondé discuss his selection for the Hall of Fame on the Salty Dogs podcast.

March 3 Updates

Buccaneers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. followed up his first Pro Bowl appearance after the 2021 season with another strong campaign in 2022. Winfield racked up 80 tackles to go with seven tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, six QB hits, one interception, three passes defensed and one forced fumble.

Winfield did this while playing a new hybrid role in this third NFL season. While he continued to start at safety in the Bucs' base defensive scheme, he would generally move into the slot when the team went to a nickel or dime package. The Bucs felt he had the coverage skills to match slot receivers, and moving him closer to the line of scrimmage allowed Head Coach Todd Bowles to take advantage of the young defender's blitzing talent and strong tackling. However, Bowles envisions simplifying Winfield's role in 2023 in order to allow him to more fully master one particular job.

"Since he was so young, he gets better mentally every year," said Bowles. "His tackling is outstanding, his intensity is outstanding, what he does for the team is outstanding. I think he's one of our top three defensive players. He can only get better with experience, you know? I don't want to move him around as much this coming season than I have this year – I'll try to leave him at one spot as best as I can. I think he'll master that spot and get even better for us."

CLICK HERE to listen to more of Coach Bowles thoughts from the NFL Scouting Combine this week.

Running back Rachaad White had a promising rookie season for the Buccaneers in 2022, but he plans on getting a fresh start in 2023, at least sartorially.

On Friday, White revealed on Twitter that he plans to switch to jersey no. 1 after playing his debut season in no. 29. White simply tweeted "Da 1," along with a workout video and a stylized image with him wearing Buccaneers jerseys with his new number. A team source confirmed that White has applied for the jersey switch.

A third-round draft pick out of Arizona State last April, White played in all 17 games of his rookie season, taking over as the starter in the Bucs' backfield around midseason. He finished second on the team to Leonard Fournette with 481 rushing yards and also added 50 catches for 290 yards and three total touchdowns. White also returned 11 kickoffs for 244 yards and made five tackles on special teams.

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