Measuring Robert Ayers

January 6th, 2018

Will he return?

There wasn’t a whole lot of beasting from Mr. Beasting this year.

Looking solely at sacks, there is no question the Bucs stunk up the entire NFL. Who knows how many games it cost the Bucs because opposing quarterbacks could order pizzas in the pocket and still have time to tip the driver before an edge rusher came near them?

(This is a proud Bucs tradition. Off the top of Joe’s head, the last time the Bucs drafted a defensive end who had double-digit sacks in a season was Marcus Jones. Isn’t it time to stop this nonsense and drag the team into the 21st century?)

Joe has pointed out often in recent days how the defensive line troika of Robert Ayers, Will Gholston and Swaggy Baker, who collectively raked in $19 million of Team Glazer loot in 2017, combined for 2.5 sacks (two from Ayers).

If you are a Glazer accountant, those three have red marks underlining their names.

But football is not accounting, though it is a business. Thus, Jenna Laine of ESPN takes a look at Ayers’ worth.

Robert Ayers has missed eight games in two seasons to injury. He managed 6.5 sacks in 2016, but had just two in 2017. He’ll be 33 when next season starts and the Bucs need to inject more youth into their defensive line, so it’s difficult to see them paying him $5 million in 2018, the final year of his deal.

Ayers’ fate is a bit tricky. On sacks alone, no way he should return. However, his tackling numbers are still pretty consistent with his career. That tells Joe he hasn’t lost it yet. (His forced fumble on Devonta Freeman at the goal line was a thing of beauty last month.)

Ayers is a good locker room dude and Joe has heard stories about how he holds young players accountable on the practice field. Sounds good, but at the end of the day, where are the results?

Joe has a hunch Ayers is safe. He is the polar opposite of Baker who seems aloof, distant and a complete and total clown. So long as the food is warm and the Team Glazer checks clear, Baker comes across as a content guy.

Ayers, on the other hand, works hard at his craft and takes his profession quite seriously.

The big question is, what do the Bucs do in free agency? This team simply has to address this edge rushing embarrassment; there is no way around it. Not having any edge rush is beyond a laughing matter and it is to a point where it will cost folks their jobs. If (when?) the Bucs sign a big-named, big-moneyed free agent defensive end this spring, how much Team Glazer has to shell out very well could determine if Ayers returns or not.

52 Responses to “Measuring Robert Ayers”

  1. Lakeland Says:

    It seems like the Bucs got more production from Will Clarke and Ryan Russell.

  2. Lamarcus Says:

    I’ll just replace him with Bennett or just keep as a rotational on run downs.

  3. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    I would love to know Will Clarke’s numbers considering he didn’t play much, but when he did, he was lit..

    And Ayers along with everyone else REGRESSED…except LVD…

    I don’t see the Bucs getting rid of Ayers..but Baker? That’s another story..

  4. lambchop Says:

    A DE is not brought in to just tackle. Any and all d-linemen will and should tackle. A DE has to make impact plays that cause disruption. Sacks, strip sacks, batted balls, tackles for losses, forced fumbles. Those are what DEs are responsible for. He may be a good locker room guy, but 5 million for a cheerleader or a rotational player just so he can keep players accountable? That’s too much. These guys are Pros and we have and will have more players who step up their leadership. Why drag on the inevitable when it comes at the cost of developing a new FA or draft pick? Hopefully Ayers has left an impression on how to be a pro that will live past his playing years with these guys. The only way I would keep him is if he is willing to renegotiate his salary with some performance based incentives.

    When we were losing game after game, everyone wanted to get rid of the under performing DL players. No point going soft now.

  5. Pickgrin Says:

    Ayers can be cut prior to March 13th with no penalty. After that his 2018 salary is guaranteed – and with the roster bonus it’s $6M – not 5M.

    Same scenario with Gholston. Can be cut with no penalty if by March 18th – after that, 2018 salary of $6.5M is guaranteed. (goes down to $3.75M in 2019 with no further guarantees).

    Ditto for Swaggy Baker. Cut by March 18th – no penalty. After that $4.875M guaranteed in 2018.

    Not sure if we are in a position to let go of all of them but that might be preferable. Maybe keep 1 – Ayers or Gholston. Cut Baker for sure. Re-sign McDonald to an inexpensive 2 year deal. Sign another mid tier DT via FA. Sign a higher tier DE in FA. Draft 2 DEs and 1 DT. Hope Spence and Stevie T. can come back healthy and go to camp with that + whatever additional “hopefuls” there might be.

  6. Blackmagic00 Says:

    Off subject. As much as is going on? Dk better be spending all off season scheming and watching our next years opponents. I believe in him and am absolutely expecting playoffs in 18. Go Dirk!

  7. Mr. Ed Says:

    You Joes have said that the Bucs pass rush is putrid.

    No one with a sane mind would disagree, not even Koetter, Licht or Smith.

    So, declare.

    Who should Licht sign in FA? C’mon Joes! It’s easy to point at a problem everyone already knows exists. Become part of the solution! (Hint — it’s not retread Michael Bennett).

  8. Joe Says:

    Not sure if we are in a position to let go of all of them

    2.5 sacks between three guys making $19 million?

    You mean the Bucs might be last in the NFL in sacks without them?


  9. Joe Says:

    Who should Licht sign in FA? C’mon Joes! It’s easy to point at a problem everyone already knows exists. Become part of the solution! (Hint — it’s not retread Michael Bennett).

    Not that easy on Jan. 6.

    (Bigger hint: Bennett is very much an upgrade.)

    When teams decide who to keep and who to cast off, Joe will have a better idea who to target. Sure, it’s easy to say, “Sign Ansah, he’s a free agent!” He’s also likely to get re-signed or tagged by the Lions. Safe bet he doesn’t escape Detroit. We don’t know at this date who will be on the open market or not.

    (Bennett, like Aqib Talib, have gone public with their beliefs that they will be salary cap casualties.)

  10. ManzielMadness Says:

    I’d be fine with him as a rotational player, however we still need 2-3 more DE’s… couple free agents/draft picks… just hope they go after a top tier guy in FA, no more 2nd tier ends in free agency. We need to be able to rush four and get pressure, will open up the defense a lot more. Take a lesson from the Jags (Tom Coughlin), signing AJ and Campbell had a yuggggeeeee difference in turning them into contenders from pretenders.

  11. Joe Says:

    Manziel knows!

  12. Dreambig Says:

    Love Ayers, like 3-4 years ago. Father Time has moved on and so should the Bucs. This is a area that you have to come to terms with the fact that Licht has done a horrible job to this point. The misses on free agents and pinning our hopes on too small Spence are the reason our Dline is so bad and severely cost us this year. If you bring a stop gap older player like the Bucs did with Ayers and Grimes, you better be looking at that move as a temporary fix and have a young guy being groomed ready to step in when Father Time claims his due. Looking towards Grimes next. Who is stepping up to take these guys place?

  13. QBKilla Says:

    Like Joe, I was pissed when Bennett left. He would be an upgrade to what we have now. I gotta say though that only 8.5 sacks for 15.5 million didn’t work out too well for the Seahawks.

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’ve reduced my suggestion to draft 6 DEs to 4……that should leave room for a CB, RB & K.

    So…..we draft 4 DEs and pick up 2 in FA…..with Spence that makes 7…..then we cut the 3 least productive.

    Am I serious?……Not really, but that strategy may be the only way to at least pretend we care about an edge rush.

  15. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Wasn’t serious about the K in the draft….Aguayo is a FA.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Pickgrin I like your approach regarding fixing the DLine but I think you’ve got 1 extra DT in there. GMC isn’t going anywhere (despite what tmaxcon wants). Re-signing McDonald should be a no-brainer (love the guy, both on the field & off). We have no idea at this point what Stevie T brings to the table, but not sure it matters much … if Bucs don’t transition more to a 3-4 then Spence won’t hold up (again) & Beckwith (or Kwon if he moves outside like I’d prefer) won’t be on the field as much as they need to be.

    You said sign 1 mid-tier DT but I’d rather see us go after a top-tier DT if we’ll be using the 3-4 more (if not, then mid-tier would do fine). Or if we can’t find one in FA THEN draft one … a high-ranking one (no more 5th, 6th, 7th rounders). But if that’s the case, we’d need to find a couple of DEs in FA, not just 1. Can’t draft enough high quality players in just 1 year. BTW, cutting Baker is a no-brainer for me. I’d keep Gholston over Ayers just by virtue of age. Then if he has another year like this one, I’d let him go too. DEs can’t keep going through years with 0 sacks.

  17. dmatt Says:

    It’s time we go all out to bring in players that can take us to the next level. Over the past several years we brought in scrub DE’s such as Larry English, Daniel Te’o-Nesheim,Michael Johnson, George Johnson, DaQuan Bowers, n nothing changed other than deterioration each year, a result of letting MBennett go n hoping for a wing n a prayer on Jaqueis Smith b n the next Von Miller. Y can’t we go for all the marbles n bring in players with a consistent proven track record. I begged for us to bring in FA JPeppers in 2010, McCoys rookie year, then again when he was a FA 2014, MEvans rookie year, and last but not least, we had a chance to bring him in 2017 where he had 11 sacks for the year n had an all star game against us. Our scouting is awful let’s bring in someone who can evaluate FA talent. I’m still dumbfounded on us not signing Calais Campbell.

  18. RustyRhinos Says:

    dmatt it takes two to tango. If a player does not want to come here you really can not make them.

  19. The Buc Realist Says:

    I thought we already discussed Ayers 3 days ago…..Oh Yea, Its the “Realist Repost”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Buc Realist Says:
    January 3rd, 2018 at 8:57 am
    Just like the Glazers, I voted Totally Confident!!!!!! Now that the “distractions” and injuries are hopefully out of the way, the team will focus on the “real” issue’s, the Trenches!!!!!!!! And that I am totally confident as well!!!!!! The biggest issue was weapons, and man did they stacked the roster with it!!!!! We will see that once again!!!!! I can almost guarantee a Guard and a DE in free agency!!!!! We will comb DE with the 1st pick in the draft (unless the RB falls to 7, which is likely, as QB’s rise in the draft and RB fall)!!!!! If the whispers I am starting to hear are correct, They might Keep Robert Ayers JR and will pay him his current rate of 6 million to be a rotational guy of the Bench!!!! RA91 would be a great part time player as injuries and age do not allow him to be effective as a starter!!!!!!!!

    I am very excited for next year!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. BucEmUp Says:

    I wanna see another team rack up high sack numbers when the corners are playing back like it’s a hail Mary every snap. OH WAIT THEY DONT!!!!!

  21. Guzzie Says:

    No one but scrub DEs will come here because our coaches suck, Raheem, Schianot, Lovie, now Klueless and Smith, especially if other teams ha money too, Campbell and Bouye got paid handsomely by Jags, even if our Bucs offered to pay them, they would’ve stayed away

  22. Guzzie Says:

    The Jags had Coughlin to legitimize their new coaches

  23. BoJim Says:

    One in FA and one in the draft. Ayers has a good attitude and a mean streak. Bucs need that.

  24. dmatt Says:

    RustyRhinos, very good point.
    Maybe we trade the Glazers for Robert Craft😝

  25. SteveK Says:

    My way to early mock draft:

    Round 1 Pick 7: Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State (A+)
    Round 2 Pick 7: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State (B+)
    Round 3 Pick 7: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia (A-)
    Round 4 Pick 7: Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State (B+)
    Round 5 Pick 7: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama (A+)
    Round 6 Pick 7: Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State (A+)
    Round 6 Pick 29: D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State

  26. The Buc Realist Says:

    dmatt Says:
    January 6th, 2018 at 7:50 am
    RustyRhinos, very good point.
    Maybe we trade the Glazers for Robert Craft😝

    Why???? do we need to install an institution of cheating????????

  27. Ndog Says:

    Yes drop him why is this even being discussed. We can’t even get him on the field then the rare times he is we see little to know production. ACCOUNTABILITY! We need to hold these players to higher expectations. Its,time for McCoy to be more of an impact in the 4th regularly, it’s time for Jameis to stop making bone head plays, it’s time for Evans to catch the ball and quit looking at the refs forever not just one year, it’s time for D jax to run a good route and show some freaking effort, it’s time Noah Spence get healthy and produce, it’s time Jason Licht drafted a DE that can actually play, it’s time we coached up the talent we do have to bring out their best IT’S TIME TO QUIT WITH THE EXCUSES AND WIN!!#!

  28. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Possible Cap Release(s)

    • Chris Conte FS $2,250,000
    • Chris Baker DT $4,875,000
    • Robert Ayers DE $5,000,000
    Total: $12,125,000

    • Jacquizz Rodgers RB $1,600,000
    • J.R. Sweezy G $5,250,000
    • Doug Martin RB $6,750,000
    Total: $13,600,000

    Combined Totals: $25,725,000
    Bucs Projected Salary Cap: $69,795,129
    Possible Grand Total: $95,520,129 ←

    Note: If we’re able to trade DeSean Jackson ($11M).
    That would bring the grand total to $106,520,129. ←

  29. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Flip Offense/Defense

  30. Ndog Says:

    LUV we can’t release Sweezy as while he was not great he was light years better than Pamfield or Smith and it would be hard two find two really good starting guards in one off season. And Conte, while not a superstar, more times than not did his job. We should be looking at bums that half a**ed it all year long not guys like Conte who busted his tail and is just a little limited talent wise.

  31. Defense Rules Says:

    LUVMYBUCS, the only player on that list I’d opt to keep is Conte. Tandy is a FA (and probably won’t be re-signed) and I’d say bye bye to TJ Ward also (dude showed me nothing this year). Given Koetter’s past relationship with Jacquizz in Atlanta (and the fact that he’s quite inexpensive to keep around at $1.6 mil), I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the roster next year.

    My big question is what will Licht do about Sims. I like him, but only at the right price. Say a 2-year contract at about $4-5 mil max. If he can do better than that in FA, so be it.

  32. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Ndog – Lol right

    DR – Yeah I’m battling with that one. Cheap contract decent but not great play.

  33. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Defense Rules

    I would also after Dion Lewis ($5M).
    He’s a better runner/receiver than Sims.
    Also Draft either Kerryon Johnson,Damien Harris, RJ, or Martez Carter.

  34. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    I would also go after Dion Lewis ($5M)

  35. Pickgrin Says:

    Luv – Sweezy would only net about $3M savings due to dead cap $ if he is cut this year. Also why get rid of Quizz for only $1.6?

    DR – GMC + McDonald + mid tier FA + Stevie T. = 4 DTs (+whatever hopefuls going to camp). The Bucs usually keep 4 DTs and 6 DEs on the final 53 going into the season. We aren’t going to a 3-4 unless a new DC who runs 3-4 comes in.

  36. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Andrew Norwell would be a huge upgrade

  37. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Happy New Years Brotha

    You can replace Sweezy w/ Norwell.
    And draft similar guard like Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech – in the later rounds.

  38. DB55 Says:

    In the spirit of the article full disclosure and what not:

    Clinton McDonald – 3mil per year – 5 sacks
    Geraldini McCoy – 13 mil per year – 6 sacks

    What are we to do about that? Not to mention McCoy is like a wet paper napkin on the goal line and short yardage.

    And for those that say, if he leaves and does well on another team….. never fear according to pff Alteran Vernon was one of the better/best corners in the league all year. Imagine that!

  39. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    Pre-6/1 Trade/Release:
    $1.875M ($4M savings)

    Post-6/1 Trade/Release:
    $625,000 ($5.25M savings)

  40. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:


    Keep an eye out on Marcus Davenport from University of Texas San Antonio (UTSA). He is 6-foot-7, 265-pound Davenport and has been a dominant force on the UTSA defense all season, ranking among the national leaders and second in Conference USA in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles per game.

    He just got an invite to the senior bowl, a first for a UTSA player. This guy is a man beast. I had heard he is projected to go in the first round.

  41. LUVMYBUCS Says:


    GMAC might actually help/push management to acquire a couple quality FA’s. So I’m good 🖖🏿

  42. Mike Johnson Says:

    Ayers should be in Hollywood Horror movies. He’s got a great..mean look..complete with scowls and tough talk. But he’s softer than Charmin TP. And forget chubb. He’s off the board by the 5th pick. So is Mr. Barkley.

  43. StPeteBucsFan Says:

    This has gotten to my brain. I no longer worry about any position on this team except DL.

    Some like D.R. like to win with defense…others like me prefer offense…but at this point I’ll toss in with D.R. if we could build a reputation as having the best DL in the league. If we recreated the “Fearsome Foursome” the rest would take care of itself. If the front 4 or 3 + 2 OLBs dominate the other teams OL we have plenty of decent players for the back end provided we resign Grimes and maybe even add Talib.

  44. Ndog Says:

    So LUV who you starting at guard? Pamhile and a rookie? Good luck with that.

  45. Ndog Says:

    In a perfect world we need two new guards, a new right tackle (Dotson always gets hurt), a new runningback, a new nose tackle, two to three new defensive ends, a new safety, two new corners, a new kick returner, a new punt returner and a new kicker. Other than that were good….. You see what I’m saying LUV replacing Sweezy would be ideal but he performed better than Hargraves at corner, better than Swaggy at nose, better than any DE,

  46. Ndog Says:

    We can’t replace them it’s just not realistic.

  47. Pa Privateer Says:

    Cut fatty Baker as soon as playoff are over.

    Keep Gholston as depth. He is very strong against the run and can be used as a spare DT in a Pinch.

    Re-up McDonald, he is a great team guy and gives depth.

    Keep the backups on roster until an upgrade is found.

    Offer Bennett a decent salary loaded with incentives and clauses. If he is trailing off in speed in these next years, then he can be a stronger run supporter or inside rush on 3rd down.

    I think Chubb may be there at #7.

    There are numerous QB needy teams ahead and behind us. QBs will get drafted ahead of their ranking and teams may trade up for a QB. There will be a ton of movement this year in the draft evaluation process. OT is a huge need for Indianapolis. There are factors in our favor for Chubb to be there at #7.

    Side Note: Having watched RB Barkley play every Saturday, I can predict draftniks will let his ranking slide. I still think Cleveland takes him at 4.

  48. DB55 Says:


    He’s batting 1000 in getting top tier fa to play along side him.

  49. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    I certainly take your point about having too many teams and having to make some hard decisions to allocate resources properly.

    The only bone I would pick is the world you described is far from perfect!!! LOL

    You actually gave a believable but worst case scenario of the status of our talent.

    “we need two new guards, a new right tackle (Dotson always gets hurt), a new runningback, a new nose tackle, two to three new defensive ends, a new safety, two new corners, a new kick returner, a new punt returner and a new kicker.”

    I think if we created the best pass rush in the NFL all the rest of the pieces will fall into place. I’m serious now…no fooling around…the ENTIRE effort focused on creating the best pass rush at least in our Division. EVERYTHING else would fall into place.

    Our QB is our franchise QB…our WR’s are incredibly talented…our TE tandem is perhaps the very best in the league…we need to upgrade somewhat at RB
    and the OL is loaded with ???? I think we can fix our OL with one starting quality OL from the draft and another from FA…both doable.

    Our defensive backfield could go to top ten in one year..if we resign Grimes and steal Talib from Denver…he’s ready to leave…back them up with VHG…McClain and the two kids. IF…..IF we had the best pass rush in the Conference there wouldn’t just be stars on the DL….the CB’s and Safeties suddenly become much better as well. It’s a team thing.

  50. Mike Johnson Says:

    When has anyone not seen a great pass rush not create chaos and opportunity. Everything else falls into place after that. With a great pass rush your DB’s become more bold to make plays your whole Defense gets fired up. Start here and the rest will fall in line. But when you got no rush like us, you are always on your heels trying to outscore somebody. Buc Defense needs an identity, a calling card and they need to find one quickly. Or you shall see the SOS next season.

  51. SOEbuc Says:

    I’m not sure what the draft looks like this year in depth, but this is just what I’d like to see…

    1. Chubb/ Nelson
    2. CB/S
    3. DT
    4. DE
    5. RB
    6. OG
    6. OT

    – And also make some gigantic FA moves for our gigantic holes that need to be filled. How bout starting off with OG Andrew Norwell outta Carolina if need be. All-Star player that can give us info on Rupaul Newton and the rest of the kittens.

  52. godzilla13 Says:

    BoJim Says: Ayers has a good attitude and a mean streak. Bucs need that. I agree. Ayers is a very good if not great DE/DT. In case some of you have forgot great DE’s who play old school “smash mouth” football are very hard to come by. Of all the position groups DE has the least amount of players available either in FA or the draft. When you have one you keep them until the wheels actually fall off. This is another reason why Bradley Chubb is the player we need. He too has a “nasty” streak in him and is one of the best 4-3 DE to come out of college in a long time.

    StPeteBucsFan Says: “Our defensive backfield could go to top ten in one year..if we resign Grimes and steal Talib from Denver…he’s ready to leave…back them up with VH3”. VH3 in the slot… if we have this in our secondary and add Chubb and a DT in the draft we really could have a top ten defense. I believe when the CB can cover at an elite level your pass rush obviously improves because the QB has no one to pass to.

    Keep Ayers, sign Talib if he becomes available and Bennett too. Draft a RB and watch this team turn all those close games into wins.