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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Latest News, Top Quotes From the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine 

Critical decisions loom for the Buccaneers in shaping their future, beginning with the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Here is a look at the top quotes from the podium on Tuesday

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The work put in during the offseason shapes an NFL team's future, starting with the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many important questions will need to be answered at the Combine as the club evaluates the 319 players invited to participate. Head Coach Todd Bowles and General Manager Jason Licht were made available to the media on Tuesday, fielding a myriad of questions over the club's future from coaching additions to the signal caller. Here is a rundown of the top takeaways from the podium on Tuesday:

Jason Licht: Confidence in Kyle Trask

With Tom Brady's retirement and Blaine Gabbert set to become a free agent in March, Kyle Trask is the only quarterback under contract currently for the upcoming season. Although unproven at the NFL level, Trask spent the 2022 season learning from arguably the greatest player of all time, 45-year-old Tom Brady. At the collegiate level, Trask dominated the SEC in 2020, leading the Gators to an 11-2 record in Dan Mullen's second season. Trask garnered Heisman Trophy and Davey O'Brien Award finalist honors, as well as second-team All-SEC honors. He drew eyes in college for his above average arm-talent, timing and accuracy. With a limited sample size over the previous year to make a comprehensive evaluation, Trask now has the opportunity to win the starting gig in Tampa Bay. General Manager Jason Licht spoke on the team's confidence in Trask to compete for the role under center.

"Yeah, we're very excited about Kyle. We're very excited about him getting the opportunity to be the starter – we'd be very comfortable with that. [We're] excited – I've used that word already, but I really am – for him to get a chance to be with the starters in offseason, starters in training camp, starters in preseason, which he's never done. He was a successful quarterback in the SEC – I mean, wildly successful. We took him in the second round for a reason – we didn't take him in the second round just to be a third-string quarterback. Now, it has yet to be seen what he turns out to be, but we're confident that it's going to be very good… "Well, first of all, he can throw the ball very well. He's changed his body a little bit with just being in the NFL with our strength and conditioning staff to where he looks more athletic than he did, to me, than he did in college. He can get out of trouble in the pocket. He's accurate, he's smart, he works hard – he's got all the traits that you're looking for in a quarterback."

Todd Bowles: Additions to the Staff

Following the departure of nine assistant coaches in January, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers filled several vacancies on Todd Bowles' staff. Dave Canales, formerly the Seattle Seahawks' quarterbacks coach, was hired as the Bucs' new offensive coordinator. Bowles, the second-year head coach, described the characteristics he valued during the interview process that led to the hiring of Canales.

"No, you look at everything as a coordinator – how he schemes, what he thinks, how he responds, what pieces he thinks he needs, what he can work with, what he can't work with. You look at the overall group and you look at the guys you have and see if he can work with those guys and see if his scheme fits, and I thought it was the best scheme fit for everything we had coming back this far…He has a good idea of what he wants to do. And, you know, the more I've talked to him, the more we were in sync that way."

Canales will work alongside two other additions to the staff in Tampa Bay, including wide receivers coach Brad Idzik and running backs coach Skip Peete. Thad Lewis, who spent the previous two seasons serving as the team's assistant wide receivers coach, was promoted to quarterback's coach. "Well, he was a heck of a college quarterback," Bowles described. "He understood the game coming in. When Bruce [Arians] hired him as an intern, he was a very bright guy in the office – in early, out late. He has a great understanding of quarterback play, and he has a lot of modern-day technique and scheme that he can help fit to a quarterback. He is very quarterback friendly. I think the world of Thad. I think he will be an offensive coordinator in light [speed] from now. I think it's a good move for him and I am excited to see it."

The Buccaneers added to their defensive staff with the hiring of former Cowboys' Senior Defensive Assistant George Edwards, who will fill the role of outside linebackers coach in Tampa Bay. His NFL career has spanned 25 seasons and most notably, Edwards played a crucial role in the development of Micah Parsons. Through one-on-one detailed instruction of angles, stance, footwork and hand placement, Edwards unleashed Parsons' potential as a pass rusher. Edwards will now work on developing third-year player Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in Tampa Bay, as well as bolstering the team's overall pressure off the edge. "Anytime you can get a chance to get another bright guy in the room, you try to get them," Bowles assessed. "He's been around a long time. He was part of that great Dallas defense last year. He helped draft Micah Parsons and shape him. You know, hopefully he can do some of those things to Tryon [Joe Tryon-Shoyinka]. Again, he's another bright guy in the room…I think he is a good fit for us and he's a good fit for the coaching staff."

Jason Licht: Approach to Building a Roster with Cap Constraints

Several tough decisions loom for the Buccaneers who currently sit more than $56 million over the salary cap and possess 23 unrestricted pending free agents. In a post-Tom Brady world in 2023, the narrative shifts to a team in transition. The aforementioned statement often engenders the term "rebuild" and the Bucs have their newfound focus set on building a foundation and competing at a high level, without compromising long-term aspirations. Jason Licht shared his thoughts on the Bucs' approach to building a roster with salary cap limitations heading into the 2023 season.

"I don't want to say taking a step back. We're still trying to restock and eventually build another championship team and it's just going to look a little different and be done a little bit differently. We were in a position in 2020 after we won the Super Bowl to be able to re-sign all of our players, which hadn't been done, or hadn't been done in a very long time. The goal is eventually to get back into a position like that, but in the short term, we still want to win and compete for this division – and we think we can. We just want to do it without sacrificing our long-term plans, our long-term goals, as well. I think we can find a way to do both at the same time."

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