The Carlton Davis Dilemma

February 28th, 2022

Raw data.

Joe noticed this in the comments the other day and it’s amusing that the words of Joe’s good friend Dean of Tampa Bay sports radio, “The Big Dog,” the late great Steve Duemig, still ring true.

Duemig used to scold listeners who challenged him on what they thought he said, but were mistaken. Duemig used to say, “You hear what you want to hear.”

Joe firmly believes some Bucs fans read what they want to read. A loyal reader hammered Joe for what he perceived was Joe’s attempt to run cornerback Carlton Davis out of town. This is just flat-out nonsense.

Joe wants Davis to stay. Joe’s only concern is, what it will cost. The Bucs have to start count every nickel if they plan to bring in a top shelf quarterback. Davis may be asking for elite money. But is he an elite corner?

He is clearly very good. But elite? That’s different and comes with its own salary scale. Problem is, at least one team will pay Davis his price.

Joe cannot think of too many teams that don’t take a dip defensively after letting go of their best corner. So Davis sort of has the Bucs by the stones.

Davis has yet to play a full season due to injuries. Last year he missed seven games. That may have messed up Davis and it seems Davis didn’t have his best season last year.

Anyway, Joe wanted to see how the Bucs defense fared with and without Davis last year. These are just raw numbers. They do not factor in who the opposing quarterback was, the score of the game, how many passes were thrown, who the receivers were, nothing. Just raw data and you can play with those numbers however you wish.

With Davis on the sidelined, the Bucs pass defense allowed an average of 217 yards per game. With Davis (including playoffs) starting, the Bucs pass defense allowed 288 passing yards per game.

The Bucs faced some strong quarterbacks when Davis was on the field. When he missed games with an injury, only one quarterback threw for over 300 yards in a game.

Below is the game-by-game breakdown of what quarterbacks did against the Bucs each week including playoffs.

Joe will say this about Davis: It’s pretty much unheard of for Super Bowl winner to let its best cornerback walk a year later when the guy happens to be 25 years old.

Opponent, passing yards allowed, quarterback
** — Carlton Davis did not start.

Dallas: 403, Dak Prescott
Dixie Chicks: 300, Matt Ryan
At Rams: 343, Matt Stafford
At Patriots: 329, Mac Jones (275), Jakobi Meyers (45)
**Dolphins: 275, Jacoby Brissett
**At Eagles: 115, Jalen Hurts
**Bears: 184, Justin Fields
**At Saints: 215, Trevor Siemian (159), Jameis Winston (56)
**At Washington: 256, Taylor Heinicke
**Giants: 167, Daniel Jones
**At Colts: 306, Carson Wentz
At Dixie Chicks: 287, Matt Ryan
Bills: 308, Josh Allen
Saints: 154, Taysom Hill
At Panthers: 251, Sam Darnold (190), Cam Newton (61)
At Jets: 234, Zach Wilson
Carolina: 219, Sam Darnold
Eagles: 258, Jalen Hurts
Rams: 366, Matt Stafford

26 Responses to “The Carlton Davis Dilemma”

  1. Buc92’ Says:

    Jc Jackson from the pats is available, true free agent all pro at 26 … Get him


  2. tampabuscsbro Says:

    Doesn’t preventing scoring count more then giving up yards?

  3. Drebucsfan Says:

    @joebucsfan, i totally agree with you big dawg. He’s not elite, above average cornerback at best but i don’t believe he deserves elite money. Todd Bowles defense is predicated off of pressure, which if effective then the cornerback benefits and maybe could hide an cornerback who doesn’t have elite speed or great man to man ability! Davis benefited from bowls defense tremendously. Once the pressure wasn’t there the secondary got exposed horridly! Winfield had the most potential to be elite and at times buntin seems like our best playmaking cornerback but we desperately need help at DB because i don’t see our pass rush getting better next year given the players we’re losing..#GOBUCS

  4. lmao Says:

    Carlton is a true B+. Hope that the Bucs don’t need to pay him A+ money to stay.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    Joe’s right, the stats don’t tell the whole story. Many teams simply abandoned even attempting to run on the Bucs and yards are not the best indicator (ask Jalen Ramsey!!!).
    He’s a “good” corner and I don’t think the Bucs can afford to lose him, even playing partial seasons. That is unless they can replace him with a player of equal skills that can stay healthy. Considering that NONE of our DBs played a full season, that in itself is an upgrade.

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Can’t overpay for anybody this year… to keep him but may have to draft a CB in rounds 1 or 2…..with or without him.

    Don’t franchise him….too much money.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Also, the exodus of Marpet may make it necessary for us to resign Jensen, Cappa & Stennie…..but at least two of them. That will eat up some CD money.

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘The Bucs have to start count every nickel if they plan to bring in a top shelf quarterback.’

    And there it is; Joe’s priorities in a nutshell. Sign a top-shelf QB, then ‘Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead’.

    Oops, minor problem. Top-shelf QBs don’t go to teams who are rebuilding. Oh wait, you say we’re NOT rebuilding? Well IF we pay the cost (salary CAP dollars AND draft picks) to bring in a top-shelf QB, that’s exactly what we’ll be doing: REBUILDING.

    Bucs still have over HALF of their starting roster/key rotational positions unfilled: QB (Brady), 2 TE (Gronk & OJ), 2 RB (Lenny & RoJo), LG (Marpet), RG (Cappa), C (Jensen), 2 DT (Suh, Gholston), DE/OLB (JPP), CB (Davis), S (Whitehead). It’s actually worse than that, but we can stop at those 13 players for now. THREE of those holes MIGHT be filled by draft picks, IF we’re really really lucky. The other 10 we’ll have to re-sign our own FAs or go out onto the open market & sign some other FAs. And oh ya, we’d still have roughly that same number of backups to sign. No problemo.

    To accomplish ALL of that we MIGHT be able to free up as much as $60 mil in salary CAP (with some restructurings, releases, etc). IF JL spends $35-$40 mil of that on a top-shelf QB, he just screwed the pooch. And not just for 2022, but for several years to come. But hey, ‘Damn the torpedoes, full-speed ahead’.

  9. Marine Buc Says:

    @ TBBF

    Hopefully the $10 million we will re-coup from the Marpet retirement will be used to re-sign Jenson, Cappa and Stinnie.

    I would be ok with only having to replace Marpet. Stinnie and Hainsey could compete for the LG job. Plus we could draft another O-line in rounds 3-5 for depth.

  10. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    Agreed. Wasting $30 million to bring in a mediocre QB (like Jimmy G) would be a ridiculous waste of valuable salary cap dollars.

    If we end up clearing @ $60 million of cap we should focus on signing Godwin, Cappa, Whitehead and Davis (if possible) to long term deals. They are all only 25 years old.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … Take a look at Spotrac’s salary CAP info for the Bucs as of today. Something changed, and it looks like Tom Brady’s CAP hit was reduced to less than half. Marpet still isn’t factored in, but he’d still have a CAP hit because of Dead CAP from his contract (I think we’d actually save around $5.6 mil this year as opposed to $10 mil but until they list him as retired no way to really tell).

    In any event, Bucs are now up to $21.3 mil CAP space with only 45 players signed. Lots of maneuvering still to go, so I think that those numbers are fairly meaningless at this point.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc … Agree with your last post, but I still think that Davis will be far too expensive for us this year. I’d much rather spend the draft capital (Rnd 1 pick) on a good CB this year and back him up (or vice versa) with a really good FA pickup (CB). If our draft pick starts, we’re good (he’ll get good experience this year). If he doesn’t start, hopefully the FA pickup could. In any event, we’re woefully short on CBs so we’d need to bring in 2 this year anyways.

  13. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    That’s interesting. I will give a look.
    I read the Bucs should have @ $10 million but it will take some maneuvering.

    “Instead, Tampa Bay will likely apply a two-step process similar to the expectation with Tom Brady’s contract. First, the team will most likely try to renegotiate Marpet’s base salary down to the veteran minimum $1.12M. That would result in an immediate savings of $8.88M when free agency opens on March 16th. Also, Marpet’s cap hit will drop from $12.775 to $3.895M, which the Bucs will carry until after June 1st.

    Once June 1st passes, the Bucs can then move Marpet to the reserve/retired list. That move will negate his $1.12M base salary, leaving a cap hit of just $2.775M. The accelerated bonus hits for 2023, 2024 and 2025 will all push back to 2023 resulting in a dead cap hit of $4.375M next year.

    The result for the Bucs is $10 million in cap space to use this offseason. This space could go toward the return of other free agent offensive linemen.”

    I hope this article is correct. But I am not 100% on the salary cap rules/dates…

  14. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    What is described above just happened to Tom Brady’s 2022 base salary.

    They just lowered it to the league vet minimum of $1.12M…

    That’s why we just got the cap boost.

  15. THOMAS PFALZ Says:

    I would like to see CD signed, but at what price. I would say he’s an above average CB when healthy. Healthy is the big thing. It seems he can’t stay on the field.

  16. tampabayallday Says:

    Very okay with him leaving. Can get a comp pick to use on a DEEP db class in the draft and sign good/cheap veterens.

  17. sasquatch Says:

    If his price goes above ~15 milion per season, we may need to let him go. His injury history makes a heavy investment a bit tough to swallow.

  18. LakelandSteve Says:

    Dude has been injured a lot. Your biggest ability is availability and I don’t think the Bucs should pay him top 10 cornerback money. He is not a Top 10 corner, he has had his moments but again you aren’t defending passes if you are sitting in the facility getting treatment. That goes for our other two starting corners/nickel. SMB isn’t that good of a corner and he has been out a lot and Dean seems to be fragile too.

  19. allbuccedup Says:

    Be careful and not overpay for this position. Example the seahawks traded for Jamal Adams and pay him 17.5 mil a year no pro bowl the Bucs draft Antoine Winfield his second year has better stats than Adams makes pro bowl. Licht needs to look in his crystal draft day bowl and find a cornerback like he did a aafety two years ago. And let Davis walk too many injuries for that type of money

  20. VabucSINCE’97 Says:

    Let him gooooooo blows more coverages that a bad news reporter

  21. catcard202 Says:

    I’ll stick to my initial gut feeling for best path forward on Bucs long list of UFA’s this yr…Prep for post TB12 Bucs rebuild now!!!

    Spend 2022 getting future cap/positional spending aligned…Zero TAG usage for 2022 & only offer team friendly contracts to long list of Bucs UFA’s during FA.

    When most of their agents go elsewhere for better $$$ deals…Great, sign a few low dollar 1yr prove-it types, but make sure Bucs end up with a full slate of Comp picks in 2023 draft …(4 total – targeting potential for 2 in the 3rd…for Godwin & Davis III).

    You then go draft Davis’ CB replacement on Day2, of the 2022 draft.

    (Is sure looks like the FO is set to go with Gabbert/Trask in 2022…Which means count on starting 2023 draft with a top10 pick in each round…As such, it makes a ton of sense to make sure they are also walking into the 2023 draft w/ a host of Comp picks in the 3rd/4th to maximize the FO’s ability to restock the cupboards with cheap talent.)

  22. Bucsfan2000 Says:

    Joe! Wake Up! The defense is literally centered around Davis! Usually in Todd Bowles defense 5 or 6 rushers are sent to Blitz. Do you know what that means? Somebody has to pick up that slack in coverage and it is Davis who does so. You say it’s debatable to pay him but he ranks #1 in total passes defensed going back since 2018. No CB in the league is perfect but if the Bucs don’t pay him there is no other Top 10 or 15 CB who can pick up the slack. The secondary will be exposed. The linebackers/ safeties already are below average in coverage and most of the times Teams in the league know that. I’ve read ALL of your articles surrounding Davis and I think it’s clear that you don’t watch majority of downs for the Bucs defense at all. Don’t be ridiculous. Joe likes Davis and has written many times that he’s the Bucs’ best corner. He’s also injury-prone and possibly not worth what he can command. Big decision. –Joe
    For somebody who’s been a fan since 2000 who can appreciate guys like Ronde Barber or Aquib Tablib we need to keep him long term!

  23. Nfldef2007 Says:

    Do you guys see the schedule next year??? Do you really wanna put a rookie or cheap veteran against elite WR?? You pay Davis! It’s that simple there is no substitute for talent and Davis has shown he needs to be paid! The d line benefited from Davis not the other way around when your sending 5 or 6 lineman. Hopefully the Bucs are smart!

  24. Dapostman Says:

    All I see is CD24 chasing Cooper Kupp on 3rd and 20 for a 70+ yard TD.

    I’m sure we can find a cheaper guy to chase Kupp next season.

  25. Buc You Says:

    You just don’t let your top CB walk before they’ve even hit their peak. What sounds like “elite” money today will be mid-level pay in two seasons. Look at the Mike Evans contract from his first re-up. CD3 stepped into Auburn as a true freshman and played year 1, got drafted by the Bucs in the 2nd round and started Week 1, and he’s been a fixture ever since. This one is a no brainer; pay the man. 5 year deal heavy on signing bonus and low on cap hit for years 1 and 2. This one is easy. Ask Mike Thomas.

  26. Rob Tanner Says:

    What about INT’s during that same time?