The NFL's in-season trade deadline came and went on Tuesday and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – like most teams in most seasons – did not make a move. The NFL notably has a much lower volume of deadline deals than, say the MLB or the NBA, and that's even more true on a per-capita basis. In fact, that's probably the reason why the NFL doesn't have a lot of in-season deals, or at least a big part of the reason. Football is such a full-team sport and it's harder for one new player to make a season-altering impact in the NFL than it is in baseball or basketball.
There were some trades swung around the NFL in the days leading up to the deadline, starting with the supposedly-rebuilding Carolina Panthers (don't Steve Wilks and P.J. Walker that) shipping wide receiver Robbie Anderson to Arizona and running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers. The 7-0 Eagles picked up an pass-rushing piece for their excellent defense in Chicago's Robert Quinn. The Ravens got stud linebacker Roquan Smith from the Bears. The Chiefs took a flyer on being able to unlock the impressive raw talents of former Giants wideout Kadarius Toney. The Jets saw impressive rookie running back Breece Hall go down for the season and bandaged the depth chart wound with Jacksonville's James Robinson. The Dolphins may have swooped in to make the best deal of them all by landing Denver edge rusher Bradley Chubb, though it cost them a first-round pick and more.
All of those teams that gave up future draft picks for veteran players are arguably contenders here at the season's halfway point (or close to the halfway point…grrrr 17th game). I would argue that if it's not Chubb than it is McCaffrey who is most likely to take his new team to another level in terms of their title contender status, and his three touchdown game last Sunday is sobering for a Bucs defense that will play in San Francisco in Week 14.
The Buccaneers' 3-5 record doesn't scream contender but they are just one game back of the 4-4 Falcons, have a win in bank over Atlanta already and get to play them in the regular-season finale in what could be a winner-take-all scenario. The Bucs have lost five of their last six, which was completely unexpected, but they still believe in their collection of talent, and in Tom Brady's leadership.
But they didn't make a trade-deadline move, and that's completely unsurprising, to be honest. It's not clear and I'm sure it will never be made clear, whether the Bucs didn't really try to deal or simply didn't come across a trade option to their liking. Either way, like I said, this year's trade deadline went exactly the way most of them down, not just in Tampa but in most NFL cities.
To shed light on this, I have gone through franchise history and looked at every trade for a player that the Buccaneers have made during the season. To qualify, the deal had to go down after at least one regular-season game has been played. This most notably excludes the Bucs' late-August swap with New England in 2014 to get Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. I will be honest: I think this is an exhaustive list, but I'm only about 95% sure. It's possible I missed a qualifying trade somewhere in these 46 previous Buccaneer seasons, though I don't think so.
As it turns out, I can provide you the entire list, because it isn't very long. And the most recent one is quite possibly the one that worked out the best. Let's take these in chronological order.
* September 23, 1977: Buccaneers trade 1978 seventh-round pick to Atlanta for rookie kicker Allan Leavitt a fourth-round draft pick. Punter Dave Green handled placekicking duties in the season opener, then Leavitt arrived and held the job for nine games (including one shutout in which he did not play), before suffering an injury. He was beaten out for the job the following summer by Neil O'Donoghue and never played in the NFL again.
* September 11, 1978: Buccaneers trade 1981 third-round pick to the L.A. Rams for guard Greg Horton. Horton arrived two games into the '78 season and would go on to start 12 of the next 14 games, seeing action at both left and right guard. Horton also started every game at left guard for the 1979 team that made it to the NFC Championship Game, including both playoff contests. He was cut in training camp the following year.
* September 12, 1978: One day after getting Horton, the Bucs sent fifth-round picks in 1980 and 1981 to the Oakland Raiders for quarterback Mike Rae. Tampa Bay got a backup for Doug Williams, and Rae would later start five games for an injured Williams in November and December, winning one of them. He stuck around for 1979 and part of 1980 but didn't start any more games.
* October 10, 1978: Tampa Bay sends 1979 seventh-round pick to Washington for wide receiver Frank Grant. After five seasons in Washington, Grant finished his career in Tampa with 10 games, four starts and eight catches.
* September 18, 1991: The Bucs swap a 1992 fifth-rounder to New England for linebacker Jesse Solomon. Probably best known for being part of the massive haul the Cowboys got from Minnesota in 1989, Solomon only played one year in Tampa but did start 12 games and record 128 tackles. He was cut in camp in 1992.
* October 18, 2005: Tampa Bay trades a 2006 sixth-round pick to San Francisco for quarterback Tim Rattay. Rattay slid in as the third quarterback behind Chris Simms and Brian Griese in 2005 but didn't see any action for the Bucs until 2006. He eventually started the last two games of a 4-12 campaign, winning one of them.
* October 16, 2007: Bucs flip 2008 6th-round pick to Kansas City for running back Michael Bennett and a 2009 seventh-round pick. The Bucs were 4-2 at the time and were contenders dealing with an injury to Cadillac Williams. However, it was formerly little-used reserve Earnest Graham who would emerge as the lead back for the playoff-bound Bucs, and Bennett only ran for 201 yards over parts of two seasons in Tampa.
* October 19, 2010: Tampa Bay gives up a 2011 fifth-round pick to get Chiefs defensive end Alex Magee and a 2011 6th-rounder. The Bucs were looking for some pass-rush help but Magee didn't provide much, with 2.0 sacks in eight games. He did not make the team in 2011.
* October 18, 2020: After losing Vita Vea to injury in Week Five, the Buccaneers immediately shipped a 2022 sixth-round pick to the Jets for defensive lineman Steve McLendon and a 2023 7th-round pick. McLendon provided valuable D-Line depth and veteran leadership to a team that would go all the way to victory in Super Bowl LV. More of a plugger than a pass-rusher he gave the Bucs more than 500 defensive snaps over the 2020-21 seasons but was not re-signed after last year.
Having typed all that up, I guess I would now say that Greg Horton had the most impact of these nine in-season trade acquisitions, given his 28 starts and his spot on the 1979 NFC Championship Game. I would call McLendon a close second, given that he helped stabilize a position in need for a team that went all the way.
By the way, the Buccaneers have also been sellers at the trade deadline; in fact, they've traded players away more times than they've acquired them in season. Without all the details, here are the 13 players the Bucs have traded at or not long before the trade deadline: CB Johnthan Banks, LB Johnathan Casillas, S Mark Barron, CB Aqib Talib, DE Gaines Adams, DT Anthony McFarland, WR Keenan McCardell, safety David Gibson, DE Regan Upshaw, DT Reuben Davis, G Mitch Grier, LB Hugh Green and DE Booker Reese.
Green brough the best haul of that group, as the Bucs got first and second-round draft picks from Miami for him in 1985. Interestingly, the fourth-rounder the Bucs got from the Patriots for Talib was used to select defensive tackle Will Gholston, who has now played in more games than any other defensive lineman in franchise history.
Now on to your questions.
A reminder that you can send questions to me anytime you want on Twitter (@ScottSBucs) and they're easier to find if you include the hashtag #SSMailbagBucs. We are also now soliciting questions each week on our Instagram page; look for that story on Wednesdays. As always, if you want to get a longer question into the mailbag and would prefer to email your question, you can do so to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who should we expect to see more, Leverett or Geodeke?
- @abby_webb (via Instagram)
Well until Luke Goedeke recovers from his foot injury and gets back on the field, it's a moot question. Goedeke missed last Thursday's game and, as of Wednesday, was still not involved in practice, so it seems quite likely that Nick Leverett will get another start on Sunday against the Rams. It's difficult to predict how long the injury will have the rookie sidelined, but Logan Ryan is on injured reserve due to a foot problem and Akiem Hicks has missed straight games with one of his own.
The answer to your question will probably become evident in the next couple of weeks. If Leverett plays reasonably well and the offensive line shows improvement overall, I would expect the coaching staff to not want to mess with a good thing. If Leverett isn't a clear upgrade at left guard and the offensive line as a whole continues to struggle, then I would suspect we would see a game or two of the rotation strategy the coaches tried in Carolina before Goedeke got hurt. Let them both get their shot in the same situation against the same defenders and theoretically one of them will emerge as the best candidate.
That's my response for how the rest of the 2022 season will be handled. Looking further, I think the Bucs continue to see Goedeke as a long-term starter and will give him every opportunity to solidify that spot in 2023 after a full NFL offseason.
I am a bit confused, and getting this question answered would clear up a lot. I always here about Tom Brady as well as other athletes stating they work on their weak part of their game. However, ever since Tom Brady has been a BUC I have noticed that every announcer states the same thing about effecting his ability and that is move him from his SPOT, make him move outside the pocket as that makes him uncomfortable.
With that said, why doesn't he work on that more and why don't we slide the pocket to the left or right depending on what the opposing defense is able to do?
I know Tom Brady isn't a mobile QB (e.g., Lamar Jackson), but getting comfortable on the move and getting a few extra seconds to help out our Offensive Line could do wonders for our receivers to get open or deeper on a play.
- Ed Rosen (via email to email@example.com)
Honestly, I think you answered the question yourself. No, Tom Brady is not a particularly mobile quarterback, particularly by today's NFL standards, and he never has been. And that's not necessarily something you can "work on." It's hard to imagine anyone who is more dedicated to his health and being in peak physical shape than Brady. He has been fanatical about that for years and that has surely been the main reason he's still playing, and playing effectively, at the age of 45. He is blazing territory that no other quarterback before him has even imagined.
So if he has been doing all of that for years and still isn't any quicker or faster, how is he going to be able to change that now?
It feels strange to point out something that Brady isn't elite at because he is such an incredible athlete. But he himself jokes about his relative lack of footspeed after any game that involves one of his rare scrambles. I don't think he would be offended by a Madden footspeed score that doesn't approach all his other ratings.
So even if we call Brady's ability to escape pressure, compared to, say, a Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes, a "liability" in his game, it still hasn't stopped him from setting virtually every NFL record. Tom Brady has been a pocket passer for 23 seasons, and I'd say it's worked out pretty well. You can teach an old dog new tricks – Brady responded last season to defenses playing over the top to avoid big plays by throwing the ball quicker and shorter, and all he did was lead the NFL in yards and touchdowns – but you can't teach him every new trick.
The truth is, pressure up the middle is difficult for every quarterback to deal with. The point is, that interior defender shooting an A or B gap just has a shorter path to the quarterback so he can get their quicker. And while he's getting to the quarterback, he's also disrupting his sight lines and making it harder to step into his throws. Yes, a great runner like Lamar Jackson can respond to quick pressure up the middle by quickly scrambling to his left or right, and yes it would be great if Brady had all his amazing tools and a Jackson-like running ability, but that's simply not the case.
Brady isn't totally immobile. His movement in the pocket tends to be short adjustments up or to the left or right to buy a little more time and open up a new sight line. Last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, he had a 14.3% "Evade %." That's not Josh Allen (24.3%) or Kyler Murray (25.8%) territory, but it was better last year than the marks put up by Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. It's simply not a core part of his game, so I don't think you're going to see the Buccaneers introduce a new package of designed rollouts.
When you have Tom Brady, you let him do the things that he does so well. It's worked the previous two seasons and Brady has thrown plenty of passes this season that demonstrate he still has the same arm strength and accuracy. The Buccaneers just need to keep that interior pressure off him, just like every team he's been on has tried to do, usually with good success. More consistent play up front from the team's re-worked offensive line would help. So too, would a rushing attack that is actually perceived as a threat. That and potentially some more play-action passes would help slow down the pass rush a bit.
What records could be broken this season and how close are we to them?
- @bucsuk_ (via Instagram)
The Buccaneers' offense has set the bar so high over the past two seasons, and with this year's first-half offensive slump it's highly unlikely any notable single-season records will be broken on that side of the ball. No individual Buccaneer is on pace to threaten any of the team's season records in the passing, rushing or receiving categories. I guess if Mike Evans continued his recent torrid pace he might be able to threaten his own record of 1,524 receiving yards, but he'd have to average 105 yards per game the rest of the way. That seems unlikely.
Tom Brady has already set one new franchise record with his ongoing streak of 315 passes without an interception, and that made me think of one new mark he could set. Jeff Garcia set the Bucs' current standard for lowest interception percentage at 1.22% in 2007. Brady's league-best interception rate at the moment is 0.29%. The only issue is that Brady is going to end up throwing a lot more passes than Garcia did in 2007, which will increase his chances of an occasional pick. Garcia threw four interception in 327 attempts to set the record; Brady has alreadythrown 340 passes this season.
There are some niche-type records within reach. Leonard Fournette has caught three touchdown passes so far this season. The single-season record in that category for the Buccaneers is just four, by Charles Sims in 2015. That's not terribly exciting, but there it is. Jake Camarda has already tied the team record for most punts of 60 or more yards in a season, originally set at six by Josh Bidwell in 2008. That record seems very likely to fall. Tom Brady set the Bucs' single-season standard for passer rating with a 102.2 mark in 2020 and nearly matched it last year at 2021. This year so far he's down a bit to 92.4, but there are a lot of games left and if the offense can turn things around he could challenge that mark again.
Similarly, no one on defense is on pace to surpass any team season records in such categories as tackles, sacks, interceptions, passes defensed or forced fumbles. As a team, however, the Bucs have 25 sacks through eight games. That puts them on pace to have 53 by season's end. The team record in that category is 55, set in 2000.
Evans already owns all the relevant career records in the receiving category for Tampa Bay, as well as the touchdowns mark. He's third all-time in scoring but is more than 100 points shy of Martin Gramatica. Tom Brady would likely need one more season in Tampa to catch Jameis Winston's touchdown pass record, as he's still 30 away from breaking that one. He would need several more seasons to catch Winston's passing yardage record. No other Bucs are within striking distance of a new career record this year.
Why did we not explore any options before the end of the trade deadline?
- @elpapojr (via Instagram)
Actually, do we know that's true? It's quite possible the Buccaneers did explore some trade options before Tuesday's deadline. It's quite possible they even made an offer or two. What we do know is that the Buccaneers did not, in the end, make any trades.
Any attempt at making a trade is an exercise in balancing the cost and the potential benefit. As an example, I think it goes without saying that outside linebacker Bradley Chubb would be a welcome addition in the Buccaneers' locker room. Chubb was traded by the Broncos to the Dolphins on Tuesday in exchange for a first-round pick in 2023, a 2024 fourth-round pick and running back Chase Edmonds. The Dolphins also got a 2025 fifth-round pick back.
If the Buccaneers kicked the tires on Chubb – and to be completely clear, I have absolutely no idea if they did – they likely discovered how steep the price tag was going to be. It's worth noting that Miami had an extra 2023 first-round pick to play around with from their trade with San Francisco in last year's draft. The Dolphins had more resources than most teams to make a trade like this and must have felt it was worth it.
If the Buccaneers put in any calls on potential trade acquisitions, they went into it with an idea of what they were willing to spend, the balance of cost against opportunity. Perhaps they did not find any trade partners with similar ideas of what the compensation could be. Or who knows, perhaps they didn't see any available players that they felt would help them and be worth the cost.
What is the reason for throwing on 3*rdand 1 but also running on 3rd*and 15? Feels like inconsistency is one of our biggest problems
I'm only going to touch on this one briefly, because if I keep at it long enough I know I'm going to start writing about confirmation bias again, which is something I've already done enough in the past and I don't want to sound preachy.
(Confirmation bias is the act of recognizing evidence that fits the theory you already have while ignoring or fail to see evidence that contradicts that theory.)
Anyway, the Buccaneers have faced third-and-one 20 times so far this season and thrown the ball on just four of them. And they have succeeded on all four of those third-and-one passes. So if there was a "reason for throwing on third-and-one," it would be that it has worked, but also they really haven't done that a lot. I'd be willing to bet that many of your fellow Buccaneer fans would like to ask me why the Bucs run on third-and-one so much.
By the way, the Buccaneers have a 65.0% success rate on third-and-one this season. That's actually a hair above the league average of 64.9%. The league as a whole has chosen to pass on 27.8% of its third-and-one plays; the Bucs have thrown on 20% of them.
I can't find a similar database for specifically third-and-15, but I highly doubt the Buccaneers ran the ball on third-and-15 very often. Nobody does. I would guess that most of the times a team elects to hand off on third-and-very-long it's simply an effort to cut their losses and get off the field, or to get a little bit closer for a field goal. If the play happens to fool the other team and the back makes something great happen, that's gravy. But you're not going to convert very man third-and-15 situations by handing off, and play-callers know that as well as you do.