How In Danger Is Robert Ayers?

February 6th, 2018

Wasn’t invisible.

Mr. Beasting actually beasted last year, just not with sacks.

Yes, the Bucs need more from a guy like Ayers who registered only 2.5 sacks in 2017. That kind of production won’t cut it.

But Ayers did produce. As Joe noted near the end of the season, Ayers’ tackles numbers were fairly consistent with the numbers he has put up throughout his career. His 31 tackles were one better than his solid 2016 season. But it wasn’t just tackles where Ayers showed up, notes Carmen Vitali of

Ayers had 16 quarterback hits this season … He [also] had two forced fumbles … the most of any defensive lineman and third-most on the team in 2017.

So it is not like Ayers was invisible (when he was healthy enough to play). He just struggled getting quarterbacks on the ground.

He was hardly alone.

 If one has to look objectively at what defensive end shouldn’t return to the Bucs, one could make a much more compelling case to keep Ayers over Will Gholston.

56 Responses to “How In Danger Is Robert Ayers?”

  1. NFLNut Says:

    The two SuperBowl teams COMBINED for just one sack in the SB … I’d love some sack-masters, but sacks aren’t everything and can be highly over-rated.

  2. Bucsfan951 Says:

    ^ yeah and Brady passed for over 500 yards AND both teams combined for over 1000 yards! Yes, sacks may not be everything but they’re pretty damn important!

  3. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    NFLNut hit the nail on the head..

  4. Pickgrin Says:

    Agree Joe. Keep Ayers for 1 more year. Re-sign McDonald for 2 years. Cut Baker. Cut Gholston (unless he’s in the mood to renegotiate for 1/2 price). Sign 2 DL free agents. Draft 2-3 D-line players. Go to camp with fingers crossed and see what shakes out…

  5. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    Can you all name at least 2 players who got better and did not regress like 99 percent of our guys?? And I am NOT talking about rookies..we’re talking about ones that played in 2016 and 2017..

    Ayers is a beast…and he doesn’t put up with candy arsed players..

  6. Joe Says:

    Can you all name at least 2 players who got better and did not regress like 99 percent of our guys??

    Clinton McDonald, Kendell Beckwith and Devante Bond.

  7. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    Beckwith doesn’t count Joe..he’s a rookie..Clinton stayed the same..and Bond? I cannot even remember him on the field!

  8. LifeOfABucFan Says:

    And I am not sure how to feel about WGholston…man, that’s a hard one..

  9. DI Says:

    There may have been only one sack but you have to admit the pressure on Brady was very important in many of their key defensive stands. Our defense would look many moons better if we had that kind of pressure

  10. Joe Says:

    Beckwith doesn’t count Joe..he’s a rookie..Clinton stayed the same..and Bond? I cannot even remember him on the field!

    McDonald improved this year. Had a decent year. If you missed Bond, you weren’t watching.

  11. godzilla13 Says:

    Everyone is in a complete panic because the defense only produced 22 sacks last season. I like this subject about QB hits because it creates the discussion on defensive pressure (sacks, hits and hurries) as a whole as opposed to sacks only. Without the information ob the amount of “hits” Robert Ayers produced (16), most of us just look at his sack total (2.5) and feel that he had a unproductive season to the point that you see comments which some are actually talking about if the team should pay him ($6,500,000) this year or cut him loose? Then there is the on-going comments that he gets injured to often? He missed a total of four games in 2017. After suffering a concussion in the Week 11 game at Miami, Ayers was held out the next two games and missed the last two games of the season as he battled a shoulder injury. To my point which is on this team where there is such a dire need for DE help that anyone would even consider not keeping our best DE? Absolute nonsense. Don’t forget that just two seasons ago with almost the identical players (minus Noah Spence, Alterraun Verner and Akeem Spence) the Bucs defense produced 38 sacks (9th) and the defense generated pressure — which includes sacks, hurries and forced scrambles — on 24.7 percent of pass plays and Tampa Bay’s -89.2 percent value with pressure ranked second in the NFL, just 3 points behind Arizona, according to Football Outsiders. The defense is better than many make it out to be and one of the reasons why is.. Robert Ayers.

  12. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    It depends if they need the cap space which I don’t think they will. He does bring attitude for sure but needs more production.

    We will tolerate you until we can replace you.

    Draft a DE (or two!), sign one (or two!) via FA.

    We need to get a top notch CB via FA and/or a top notch DE. Otherwise don’t bother on “value” FA. Please stock us with some talent Licht and do your thing on draft day (no not the kicker thing, the other thing where you draft four starters).

  13. bucs_365 Says:

    ^^ Is “abdominal” snowman a joke, or do you not know how to spell “abominable”?

  14. Off the Cuff Says:

    The top DE’S are likely to be franchised.
    Our worst problem is up the middle where we only have Gerald McCoy, who wears down every season from constantly fighting double and triple teams.

    We can get a quality tackle like Star Lotulei, then go in the draft and get Arden Key or Marcus Davenport. I would lean towards Key since LSU has produced some great talent for us lately.

  15. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe, you’ve now got me bewildered. On the one hand, I hear ‘Our DLine sucks’ which would imply ‘Fix it big time’ and of course ‘Dump Smitty’. On the other hand, I hear ‘GMC is great’ and ‘Ayers did produce’ and ‘Smitty’s a nice guy’. This DLine doesn’t need a LITTLE change IMO; it needs some BIG changes or we’ll get the same results in 2018.

    Spotrac has some fascinating numbers, and one of their charts deals with ‘Cost of the various DLines by team in 2017’ ( ). When I look at the rankings by team for last season, Jags came in #1 ($57.8 mil), then Dolphins at #2 ($50.8 mil), then Eagles at #3 ($49.5 mil), followed by Giants at #5 ($47.7 mil) and Panthers at #5 ($36.3 mil). Then the Bucs at #6 … $34.1 mil spent on our Defensive Line in 2017. Pretty big gap in spending between the Giants at #5 and Panthers-Bucs next.

    Point being, in the Top-6, Jags-Eagles-Panthers got their money worth IMO based on their W-L record. Dolphins-Giants-Bucs … not so much. Apparently $$$ spent doesn’t guarantee anything. LOTS of other teams seemingly performed far better than we did from a DLine standpoint (Vikings, Steelers, Rams) but kicked out less for their DLines (Pats interestingly spent less than half of what we did for their DLine). Bucs have some seasoned vets making some pretty good $$$ but who aren’t producing the desired results. Maybe from a T-E-A-M perspective we need to re-think what we’re doing and how we’re doing it?

  16. Jeagan1999 Says:

    Law of diminishing returns with Ayers. Time to move on and get younger and faster at the position. I would not be surprised if we took 2 DE/Edge Rushers in the draft….and maybe even signed a FA too. Ayers was a very disruptive player early in his career, but Father Time catches up with all of us sooner or later!

  17. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Pass Defense Rankings
    Yards: 4169 | Ranks 32nd ← Dead Freakin’ Last

    Cornerbacks | Snap Count: 2017
    • #24 Brent Grimes (34yrs) 5-10,185 | Snaps: 844
    • #36 Robert McClain (29yrs) 5-9,195 | Snaps: 690
    • #29 Ryan Smith (24yrs) 5-11,189 | Snaps: 598
    • #28 Vernon Hargreaves(22yrs)5-10,204 | Snaps: 502
    • #35 Javien Elliott (24yrs) 5-11,176 | Snaps: 130

    Safeties | Snap Count: 2017
    • #23 Chris Conte (28yrs) 6-2,203 | Snaps: 774
    • #21 Justin Evans (22yrs) 6-0,199 | Snaps: 715
    • #43 T.J. Ward (31yrs) 5-10,200 | Snaps: 405
    • #37 Keith Tandy (28yrs) 5-10,205 | Snaps: 226

    Sure pass rush played a factor – but without question this unit needs to be upgraded.

  18. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Da’ Vets: (5)
    • #24 Brent Grimes (34yrs) 5-10,185 | Snaps: 844
    • #43 T.J. Ward (31yrs) 5-10,200 | Snaps: 405
    • #36 Robert McClain (29yrs) 5-9,195 | Snaps: 690
    • #37 Keith Tandy (28yrs) 5-10,205 | Snaps: 226
    • #23 Chris Conte (28yrs) 6-2,203 | Snaps: 774

    Da’ Younsta’s: (4)
    • #21 Justin Evans (22yrs) 6-0,199 | Snaps: 715
    • #28 Vernon Hargreaves (22yrs)5-10,204 | Snaps: 502
    • #29 Ryan Smith (24yrs) 5-11,189 | Snaps: 598
    • #35 Javien Elliott (24yrs) 5-11,176 | Snaps: 130

    ^Now do you see why – we have to infuse the defensive backfield with younger talent?

  19. Defense Rules Says:

    LUVMYBUCS … Great analysis (Josh Robinson figures in there too, someplace, although almost exclusively on STs). Figuring that we need 6 CBs & 4 Safeties (which we carried), looks like we should be looking to upgrade about half that group (and that’s a LOT to swap out in 1 year IMO). I’d personally keep Evans, Conte, VHIII & Ryan Smith out of all you listed, then try to re-sign Grimes & McClain (both are FAs). IF we’re able to do that, we’d still need 2 CBs & 2 Safeties. Hopefully we can grab 1 experienced CB (starter) in addition to Grimes, plus 1 experienced SS (starter) in free agency, PLUS draft a CB & SS. Would also consider bringing Jude back, as well as Elliott, to compete in training camp.

  20. ATrain Says:

    Ok Joe

    When we talk about Ayers there is NO mention of the soft line or slug Baker next to him

    BUT all we hear about with GMC is He can’t do it himself

    Maybe Ayers would have 10 sacks if the DT picked it up

  21. The Buc Realist Says:

    I think that RA91 would be more effective in the CM98 role where he is more productive with limited snaps!!!!!!! CM98 proved he can not start for 16 games but in limiting his snap count and coming off the bench he stays healthy and productive!!!!!!! If you look at the DE position their is depth!!!!!!!! The problem is that the depth is starting!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GO Bucs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Bird Says:

    Think he is being sarcastic about his abs/gut

  23. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    LifeOfABucFan Says
    “Can you all name at least 2 players who got better and did not regress like 99 percent of our guys??”

    Ryan Smith improved.

  24. Bucsfanman Says:

    Who cares if he’s not as productive, he’s mean. Remember, that’s what our d-line needed, a “meanie” who keeps the players “accountable”!!!
    Production, pffft!

  25. Easy Denman Says:

    Ayers was a joke last season and wasnt much better the season before. Let him walk

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucsfanman, the Bucs were ‘accountable’ for a 5-11 record last year. Being a ‘meanie’ is not a criteria for great performance (i.e, Lee Roy Selmon?). Reality is that Robert Ayers had ONE very good year (Giants 2015 – 9 sacks) and ONE pretty good year (Bucs 2016 – 6.5 sacks) in his NINE year career. He has 19 sacks in the other SEVEN years … an average of less than 3 sacks per year. Last year he had 2 sacks … that’s pretty much what we can expect from him IF he stays healthy at age 33 when this season starts. Ryan Russell got 2 sacks last year & so did Will Clarke (2.5 actually), and they’re both a lot younger, plus a LOT less expensive. I love having experience on the DLine (and the leadership that it should bring with it), but last year’s DLine had tons of experience but I didn’t see a whole bunch of leadership. Personally think that GMC, McDonald, Noah Spence & Gholston are the only 4 real ‘keepers’ at this point, but would definitely bring Russell & Clarke to camp & see if they can make the team. 2 new beastly DTs & 3 new DEs & Bucs DLine could get a LOT better real fast.

  27. DoNUTS Says:

    Sacks are not important? A sack WON the SB this year. It was the difference in the game at the end. This team needs to improve in the trenches. Can we get GMC some help? It may require a “Weapons for Winston” trade.

    Ayers – I am on the fence on this guy. He seems too light v OT in the NFC South. I think we need to go younger. Younger = energy = Chubb if he is there – which looks to be lining up with the QB selections before us per the draft mockery.

  28. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Easy Denman Says
    “Ayers was a joke last season and wasnt much better the season before.”

    He had 6.5 sacks the year before. I would say that was much, much better.

    Frankly though, I’m all for cutting everyone on the defensive line except McCoy, Clinton and Noah. Start from scratch with the rest.

    However, I am not certain the Bucs will release Ayers. While they could save money, he is pretty much the only one with fire on the line. He may not produce like he has it, but he has the right attitude. And that attitude is what we need in any younger players.

  29. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    NFLNut Says
    “The two SuperBowl teams COMBINED for just one sack in the SB … I’d love some sack-masters, but sacks aren’t everything and can be highly over-rated.”

    Patriots was top ten in sacks this year. Not to mention, they had the most sacks in the playoffs (11).

    Eagles ranked 16th in the 2017 season.

  30. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I was thinking yesterday…none of the QBs in this draft are blockbuster popular. Therefore, I think the QB needy teams will be open to trading down from the top.

    If that happens, it will be so a team can get another position. Possibly DE.

    On the other hand, if he makes it down far enough, Licht could trade up a couple spots…but I don’t see that happening. Licht likes to wait to see what falls to him. He doesn’t sell the farm to move up…so far.

    I think if the Bucs do a trade at all, it will be to move back, if they feel they will have good options if they do so.

    The problem is, Licht doesn’t do trades too well, not ones that benefit the team. He might acquire a 4th rounder by trading down, when he could have gotten a 3rd or even a 2nd to the right team (depending on how far).

    I’m debating whether I should even do a wishlist this year. I’m tempted to just sit back and watch. Can’t wait to see how things play out.

  31. Bucsfanman Says:

    Defense Rules- That was definitely “tongue-in-cheek”!!! I agree with most of what you say, except for Gholston. I did not understand the clamoring to re-sign this guy last year. He was a one-trick pony last year and this year he was a no-trick pony. For all of his run-defense “prowess”, I did not see a whole lot of production. Of course, other than his VHIII school of celebrating tackles 3 yards downfield!
    We need depth, so I’m not ready to throw out everybody. But, these guys need to be rotational players NOT full-time starters. They are NOT starting caliber.

  32. Defense Rules Says:

    Bucsfanman … Just busting you chops with that ‘accountability’ thing. Gholston is one who has me totally baffled. I really thought he’d have a break-out year soon, but nada. Robert Ayers’ career hasn’t been much different BTW … until his breakout year with the Giants, you could’ve called him ‘Will Gholston’. We need so much new blood on the DLine that we really don’t have the luxury of gutting it in total then starting from scratch. Personally more concerned about Noah Spence than I am about Gholston. Noah just can’t seem to hold up. I’m hoping that it’s just the 4-3 & that he’d hold up better in a 3-4 defense, but not sure. He just seems frail … at 240 lbs he’s too small for DE (and maybe even for a OLB in a 3-4).

  33. 813bucboi Says:

    time to let the band aids walk….grimes and ayers were suppose to be patches while we develop VHG and spence… that the defensive staff has shown the inability to develop young players(cb’s and de’s ) we have 2 options….let the young boys play and hope they develop on their own or sign players like aaron lynch…Michael Bennett, Malcolm butler…ej gaines….

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!…..GO BUCS!!!!!

  34. Defense Rules Says:

    And Bonzai, folks like to think we’d get 2 high-rounders this year for our #7 pick, but it’s a lot more likely IMO that we’d get a lower 1st rounder this year PLUS a 1st or 2nd rounder in 2019. If everyone we like is already taken, that may not be that bad since next year possibly has more defensive potential.

  35. Bucsfanman Says:

    D.R.- I just don’t know if we know what good d-line players look like. I mean, by accident this group should’ve been more productive. We just keep settling for mediocrity, or less in this case.
    Spence is another one. Is he a full-time starter? I don’t think so. The fact that he’s been injured pretty much supports that.
    And don’t talk about “chops” right now, I’m starving! 🙂

  36. VA BUC Says:

    Please do not bring him back we have to let him go alllllll he did was collect a check lets be real o n was loud and roary for some odd reason

  37. ATrain Says:

    So when we talk Ayers it’s all about the sacks?

    Let’s see a comparison between Ayers and GMC for tackles
    Tackles for loss?

    I’m sure GMC must have liked him in those stats
    Or are we going to the verbiage GMCs talent can’t be gauged by stats

  38. ATrain Says:

    Ayers plays with passion
    Something GMC could learn

  39. Bucsfanman Says:

    ATrain- GMC-47 (33 tkl, 14 Asst) 6 sacks, Ayers-30 (20 tkl, 10 asst) 2 sacks. Passion is great when it’s matched with production. In this case, what’s the difference? Passion don’t mean squat without production. It’s about results.

  40. Maze Says:

    If Ayers is cut Licht is even dummer than we thought.

  41. Destinjohnny Says:

    It’s good in a way as nobody will feel inferior.
    Kinda like the one kid in school that made everyone look bad
    Bucs d line doesn’t have that guy.
    Under achieving at every level pesonicated

  42. Bob in Valrico Says:

    A train
    McCoy has 13 tackles for a loss. About 100 players listed and no other d lineman
    makes the list.

  43. Bob in Valrico Says:

    edit no other Buc lineman is listed .
    Note to DB, Fletcher Cox and LVd were tied at 7.

  44. The Graham Tram Says:

    Keep. With more help, I think Ayers will be nice in rotation

  45. webster Says:

    I am convinced many tampa fans have no idea.

    @ joe

    Why would you or anyone cut gholston? He makes 5 mil a year. Thats called rotational money. Top flight de makes 15 mil+ a year. 5 mil says you are a player that is better than your average rookie contract but nothing special. 5 mil is a bargain for the bucs best run stopper on the line. Just because someone got a raise, it does not mean they are overpaid. He is a rotational player that is paid as such.

  46. GhostofSchiano Says:


  47. Pickgrin Says:

    Webster – Gholston made $7M last year and is scheduled for $6.5M in 2018.
    His tape did not come close to justifying that $7M in 2017 and his 2018 money becomes guaranteed if he isn’t cut before March 18th – so Bucs don’t even get to have a look at him in camp and pre-season to make an informed decision on whether to keep him or not this year.

    All that adds up to he will likely be cut within the next 4-5 weeks.

    We can find a decent-good “run stuffer” DE somewhere else for less than $6.5M – one who might even get a handful of sacks along the way. I’d rather drop Gholston and draft 2 or 3 DEs in the mid rounds (3-5). One of them is almost bound to be an upgrade over Gholston and the rest of the names on the depth chart after Spence and Ayers.

  48. webster Says:

    @ pick

    Come off of it. Will signed a 5 year 27.5mil contract. That equates to 5.5mil a year. Every player get more money upfront because its guaranteed. Thats whats important to the players. But make no mistake Gholston is paid as a rotational player period.

  49. webster Says:

    @ pick

    He gets 6.5 in 2018, 3.75 in 2019, 4.75 in 2020, 5.5 in 2021. That is called rotational player. Dont let the guaranteed money fool you.

  50. StPeteBucsFan Says:


    “Go to camp with fingers crossed and see what shakes out…”

    Yeah we’re going to need a fair amount of luck. I keep bringing up Noah’s shoulder because he was blowing up in those two team summer workouts with the Jags who pointed out how good he was.

    Remember at Ohio State he was actually considered more talented than Bosa.
    If he’s healthy I think he’ll make a significant difference. I realize many here are thinking…don’t plan on a guy who has been hurt two years in a row…same injury. We better hope his Orthopod fixed that dang shoulder this time.

    It will take a fair amount of luck to come out of the draft with a difference maker on the DL…simply because DL’s generally take a year or two to really blossom.

    But I claim the “luck of the Irish” lol and I”m going to share it with the Bucs.

  51. webster Says:

    Calais cambell got 15 mil a year. You know why it was not more? His age. Von miller makes 19 mil a year. The first year he made 25 know the guaranteed money. Again, paying gholston who does not bring “distractions”, the choir boy type many of you love on this site 6.5 mil should not be a problem. Thats called rotational money.

  52. Marques Says:

    Go get Robert Quinn when he is released by the Rams.

  53. William Says:

    Cut Gholston, cut Baker, sign Ziggy or Bennett (assuming he becomes available) and re-sign McDonald as a starter. Draft a DT in the 3rd round. If Freeney still wants to play football, sign him for the vet minimum for depth. They can learn a lot from that guy, and he looked pretty solid in Seattle for an old man.

  54. DoNUTS Says:

    ATrain Says:
    February 6th, 2018 at 10:33 am
    Ayers plays with passion
    Something GMC could learn

    What are you watching on Sundays? GMC plays last 3-4 weeks with bum leg; thats not passionate enough for some Buc fans. Ayers played with passion and got him 2 sacks….looks like he needs more than just passion.

  55. LUVMYBUCS Says:

    Defense Rules


  56. Not there yet Says:

    What are you watching on Sundays? GMC plays last 3-4 weeks with bum leg; thats not passionate enough for some Buc fans. Ayers played with passion and got him 2 sacks….looks like he needs more than just passion

    Yes GMC was on the sidelines crying and had to be consoled during a game only to miss one game and come back. Passionate and extremely sensitive that’s GMC. I’d keep Ayers over gholston, that dude gets way to excited and tackles after running backs gains yards but I guess that’s ok because he’s rarely able to celebrate a sack