The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking like Super Bowl contenders again for the 2022 season. The reason for that is because of the work they were able to put in this offseason.
At one point this offseason, the Buccaneers were faced with the possibility of having to rebuild just one season after winning Super Bowl LV. Instead they will emerge from the offseason as one of the favorites to make it back to the Super Bowl out of the NFC.
With the Buccaneers gearing up for training camp, and most of their offseason work already done, it feels like a proper time to assess all their moves and hand out a final grade for their offseason work. So let’s take a closer look at Tampa Bay’s offseason before handing out a final grade for the moves that they have made.
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2022 offseason grade
The Buccaneers entered the 2022 offseason with a lot of uncertainty surrounding their roster. Key players such as Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen, and Leonard Fournette were free agents, and guys like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were contemplating retirement. There was a decent chance that everything Tampa Bay had worked so hard to build over the past two seasons was about to unravel in front of their eyes.
Tom Brady announced his retirement shortly after the 2021 season, which put a damper on Tampa Bay’s offseason plans. They would franchise tag Godwin in order to prevent him from hitting the market, but heading into free agency, it seemed like many of Tampa’s other key free agents were getting ready to depart.
Then Tom Brady announced his unretirement, and everything changed. Godwin was signed to a three-year extension, Davis, Jensen, and Fournette were all re-signed, and the Buccaneers were back in business. They added some help from outside the organization too, with wide receiver Russell Gage, safeties Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, and offensive lineman Fred Johnson all being brought on board.
Addressing the offensive line was crucial, because the Bucs suffered some unexpected losses at the position. They re-signed Jensen at center, but lost Alex Cappa in free agency to the Cincinnati Bengals, and saw Ali Marpet unexpectedly retire. They were able to fill a hole at guard by acquiring Shaq Mason from the New England Patriots for a fifth round pick, which was an absolute steal.
Tampa also put together a really solid draft, and addressed many of their remaining needs throughout it. The Buccaneers ended up trading out of the first round, although they ended up with the first pick of the second round, and used it to on Logan Hall to help their defensive line.
They then added some help on their offensive line (Luke Goedeke, 57th overall pick), grabbed a backup running back for Fournette (Rachaad White, 91st overall pick), and protected themselves from Gronkowski’s potential retirement by adding a pair of tight ends (Cade Otton, 106th overall pick and Ko Kieft, 217th overall pick). Many draft experts believe that the Buccaneers had one of the most successful draft in the league.
Of course, Gronkowski would eventually retire, leaving a pretty sizeable hole at tight end heading into the season. Some have speculated that Gronk will eventually come back if Brady gives him the call, but Gronk has sounded pretty adament that he’s retired for good this time.
After the draft, the Bucs worked on rounding out the edges of their roster. They made a couple of under-the-radar signings in defensive lineman Akiem Hicks and tight end Kyle Rudolph to help address some remaining needs, but other than that, Tampa Bay has been preparing for training camp ever since the draft concluded.
FINAL GRADE: A
Once Tom Brady unretired there wasn’t really anyway this could go down as a bad offseason for the Buccaneers. His presence under center immediately gives Tampa Bay fantastic odds of winning a Super Bowl next season, especially considering the weakened state of the NFC currently.
Not only that, but the Buccaneers have kept most of their core pieces in place heading into the 2022 season. They re-signed pretty much all of their key free agents, and the ones that they let go were replaced, or in some cases even upgraded, which should bode well for Tampa come next season.
And the Bucs put together a very efficient draft in which they hit on most of their biggest needs. Not all of them are going to contribute in 2022, but some of them have great opportunities in front of them to craft out a role for themselves as soon as training camp.
All in all, it was a fantastic offseason for the Buccaneers, especially considering how bad things looked early on. They have retained their key players, drafted well, and most importantly, they are still a Super Bowl contender when all is said and done. It was a great offseason for them, and they may reap the benefits during the 2022 season.