Shooting, Barbecue & Good Vibes

June 15th, 2018


Three months after joining the Bucs, Mitch Unrein finds himself swept up in a feeling.

The 31-year-old defensive tackle already realizes he’s part of a unit that will largely determine the fortunes of an embattled franchise this fall. Jameis Winston’s performance will be critical, of course, but an overhauled defensive front is likely the key to Tampa Bay’s playoff chances.

The Bucs pounced on Unrein early in free agency and he joins his fifth NFL team eager to share his experience.

“I think there’s a great vibe in the room,” says Unrein, who played in six postseason games with the Broncos. “Gerald McCoy has been here for nine years and he’s very hungry. He’s never made the playoffs and we’re bringing in some Super Bowl guys in Beau Allen and Vinny Curry. I’ve been in a Super Bowl, JPP has won a Super Bowl.

“We’re going to feed off each other and help the rookies along, help Vita Vea along. He’s going to be something special — I can already see it. We try to hang out as much as we can. We went shooting one day, we had a little barbecue. We try to spend as much time outside of football as possible because that brings camaraderie and makes you trust the guy next to you a little bit more when you’re out on the field.”

Unrein, 31, has never been a sack master or been to a Pro Bowl, but the man has value. When Tampa Bay coaches and scouts looked at his tape in Chicago, they saw a smart, physical lineman with versatility.

Feel-Good Signing

Undrafted out of Wyoming, Unrein came to the Bucs with a little chip on his shoulder pads … just the way Jason Licht likes ’em.

“It makes you feel really good when a team targets you like that,” says Unrein. “I’ve never really been a guy in the spotlight per se, so it made me feel good that somebody noticed what I was doing and noticed how I can help a team out. I’m going to come in here and just try to help the Bucs win games.”

Like yours truly, Unrein thinks the NFL schedule maker did the Bucs a favor with an opening date in New Orleans. What better place to announce to the world that this is a defense with teeth?

“Let’s set the tone early,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for us to show the rest of the NFL what we can do. But the Saints game is a long way out. First, we have to take care of ourselves these next five weeks and come to camp ready to work.”

Working Vacation

With a new taskmaster in town, Tampa Bay’s defensive line will be feeling the heat in August. Brentson Buckner has already made it clear nobody in his group is beyond reproach.

“Coach Buckner is a great guy,” Unrein says. “He played for 12 years and they had a great D-line with him in Carolina. I love the energy he brings. He’s teaching you about life as well, and that’s big. Faith, family, football … that’s a key for everyone.”

It hasn’t taken long for the Unreins to acclimate themselves to our fair city.

“We’re in the Seminole Heights area and we love it,” he says. “We’ve been to Clearwater Beach a couple of times and it’s great. Downtown is nice, traffic isn’t bad and we’ve really enjoyed our time here. It’s like you’re on vacation living here.”

Shush, Mitch. Mr. Buckner will hear you.

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Wednesdays during football season, and see him now on Mondays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360 (aka BayNews 9). Ira also is part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show and enjoys beet salads, Riesling, Chiefs victories and needling Joe.

21 Responses to “Shooting, Barbecue & Good Vibes”

  1. '74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Bring lunch pale. Crack heads.

  2. 813bucboi Says:

    did you ask why the house in SH was so cheap?…lol….


  3. DB55 Says:

    He’s never made the playoffs and we’re bringing in some Super Bowl guys in Beau Allen and Vinny Curry. I’ve been in a Super Bowl, JPP has won a Super Bowl.
    So did Ayers, McDonald, ghost Johnson and others but it didn’t make any difference at all. Good luck with that!

  4. Alaskan Abdominal Snowman Says:

    Ayers and Johnson have no rings…

  5. Bird Says:

    Cool stuff

  6. DB55 Says:

    McDonald does. Ayers and Johnson have P.O. experience.

  7. unbelievable Says:

    Yup and that was all before they got here.

    So your argument is that a bunch of vets past who were all past their prime would have been all star sackmasters if not for playing next to GMC?

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. Lol, go smoke another one bro!

  8. Pickgrin Says:

    Unrein is kind of the forgotten guy with all the DL signings and drafting Vea #12 overall. Pretty good 4th guy in the DT rotation if you ask me

    Bucs guaranteed Unrein $3M for this year with the option to keep him 2 more years at $3.75M per.

    Beau Allen is guaranteed $5M this year with the option to keep him 2 more years at $3.75M per.

    Vita Vea counts $2.7M, $3.4M, $4M and $4.7M against the cap over the next 4 years.

    McCoy is under contract at or just under $13M for each of the next 4 years with no more guarantees beyond $500k this year. That contract carries through the 2021 season when Gerald will still be 33 years old.

    At DE:

    JPP is signed for $12.5M, $14.5M and $12.5M over the next 3 years with no guarantees beyond 2018.

    Curry is guaranteed $6.5M in 2018 with the option for $8M in 2019 and $8.5M in 2020.

    Will Gholston is guaranteed $6.5M in 2018 (Bucs had a free out prior to March 18th and didn’t take it – SMH) – with options the 3 following years for $3.75M, $4.75M and $5.5M.

    Noah Spence is still on rookie contract at $1.6M and $1.9M in 2018 and 2019.

    That’s $24M for 4 DTs and $27M for 4 DEs

    Jason Licht was not afraid to spend $ on the team’s greatest need (DL) this year and targeted exactly who he wanted to bring in – with very limited DE options in FA and the draft no less. Licht also impressively managed to leave himself every available out with no guarantees whatsoever for all that talent heading into next year…

    Should be fun to see what Buckner can do with this group in 2018.

  9. DB55 Says:


    No. I thought I was pretty clear on my first comment. GMC has had teammates that have won Sb and have P.O. experience but it hasn’t helped. But I’m sure this year will be different. 🙄

  10. Not there yet Says:

    “It’s like you’re on vacation living here.”

    Sounds like that’s the problem with signing older players close to retirement. Gm’s in Tampa haven’t yet solved that Dilemma, hope this year we get over that hump

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Love articles like this Ira. Players like Mitch Unrein often go unheralded but make all the difference when it comes to winning games. Best thing about this year’s DLine is that we finally have enough quality depth to set up a decent rotation and keep guys fresh. That has to help us when the games are on the line in the 4th quarters this year.

    And Pickgrin, great rundown on the contracts. With so many key contracts coming due in 2019, hard to see where we can dedicate over $50 mil just to the DLine.

  12. Joel Says:

    Different year, different players, same hype.

  13. Pickgrin Says:

    Correction – Beau Allen’s deal is $5M each of the next 3 years. Only 2018 is guaranteed.

    That was kind of my point DR – that spending $51M on 8 DL players is not a sustainable scenario beyond this year – but it was kind of necessary to spend that much this year because the DL was such a problem.

    Next year we can pick and choose who stays and who proved to not necessarily be “worth it” of those brought in this year – and hopefully draft at least 1 if not 2 good DE prospects from a much better crop than what this year offered.

  14. SB Says:

    Pickgrin on point as usual!

  15. Wright Says:


    Nice analysis. Licht has but himself in a good position should talent falter, but he has also put himself in a good position should fortunes for the DL turn better. A lot of those options have lower numbers towards the end, leaving valuable cap space for the starters on the other side of the ball and for our young fellas on defense.

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    Agree that it was necessary this year Pickgrin to spend that kind of $$$ on our DLine. Assuming that all of the new FAs work out (and I believe they will), it seems to me that Bucs have little choice but to divest themselves of several big $$$ contracts before they can write new big contracts (like for Jameis, Donovan & Ali for starters). The 3 keys IMO will be: (1) how well each player performs this year; (2) how much the CAP rises next year; and (3) whether or not this coaching staff is still here next year. Lots of potential changes on the horizon, and what’s neat is that most of them will be driven by PERFORMANCE … for a change. Love competition.

  17. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    So you have pretty much decided to become a pure hater these days? Disappointing.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    What Licht accomplished this year is a successful free agency and a successful defensive draft.

    I would have liked a pass rushing DE in the second round, but hey…I can’t deny the picks still looked good.The

    Even in a worse case scenario where Curry doesn’t work out, we’ve enough talent to make things work this year. JPP is a lock. Vea is a lock. McCoy is a lock.

    And regardless of what some people claim, McCoy has NEVER had a line like this to work with. He’ll finally get his 10 sacks because teams will regret double teaming him now. If they do, the sacks will come elsewhere.

    This isn’t what we saw with previous free agents. This is actually a decent to great crop. In previous years, I hated his non draft moves when he made them…Baker, Johnson, etc. Ayers was at least making an effort.

    Even going as far back as the two DEs we drafted one after another, they weren’t good.

  19. teacherman777 Says:


    Now, do you understand why Logan Mankins, a future Hall of Famer, believed in the importance of barbecues and chemistry?

    Mitch Unrein is right!

    These guys need to become ONE!!

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    ” we had a little barbecue”

    Somehow, I believe this group had more than a little BBQ…..

  21. Destinjohnny Says:

    Bummer we couldn’t draft our way out of our d line issues.
    We seem to have run stopping depth at d tackle