Tampa Bay’s Tier 2

March 22nd, 2022

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Three of Tampa Bay’s remaining unrestricted free agents have been greeted with the sounds of silence.

It’s understandable that there hasn’t been much chatter about Rob Gronkowski since Tom Brady announced he’s returning to One Buc Place. If Gronkowski plays anywhere this fall, it figures to be with Tampa Bay.

At this point, it would be an upset if the future Hall of Fame tight end doesn’t return for another shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Brady’s go-to target in the red zone.

But for some other prominent Bucs who have been testing the free-agent market, the tepid response looks a bit puzzling.

Gronkowski and Brady are tied to the hip pad, so that’s understood. You can bet the two have engaged in several ongoing discussions, with Brady pleading his case for Gronkowski’s return.

Ndamukong Suh

But what’s up with Ronald Jones, Ndamukong Suh and Will Gholston? They don’t have nearly the same ties to Brady as Gronkowski.

Theoretically, they’re unabashedly free to peddle their wares to 31 other teams in pursuit of their next contract. Yet it’s Week 2 of free agency and you rarely hear their names linked to potential suitors.

They’re still out there, assessing their worth and wondering when they will find a seat at the grown-up’s table.

Young. Fresh. Experienced. Proven.

What are these other teams waiting for?

Ronald Jones

Before Jones was phased out by Leonard Fournette late in the 2020 championship year, he was on his way to a 978-yard season, averaging a robust 5.1 yards per carry.

He doesn’t have a lot of wear and tear and he’s only 24, so Jones must be frustrated by the relative lack of interest he’s generating.

Since his dreadful rookie year, Jones has averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the past three seasons. His hands remain suspect, but Jones has proven to be a productive inside slasher. A former second-round pick, Jones isn’t going to cash in but somebody is going to get a bargain by signing No. 27.

It’s hard to believe Suh can’t start for more than half the teams in this league. He’s looking to get paid and he’s 35, but his credentials are persuasive.

We’re talking about a 5-time Pro Bowler and a 5-time All-Pro defensive tackle who remains incredibly durable and effective. This guy hasn’t missed a start in the past decade and Suh has registered consecutive 6-sack seasons.

It will come as no surprise if the Bucs eventually reach an agreement with Suh to line up next to Vita Vea this fall and once again anchor a stingy rush defense.

Unless there’s a substantial gap between offers, Suh would be wise to bring his talents and professionalism back to Tampa.

The Rock

Season 10 in Tampa for Will Gholston?

Gholston might be the most intriguing case of all.

The 30-year-old left defensive end is a nice fit for Tampa Bay’s 3-man front. He’s very solid against the run and let’s remember he led the Bucs with 20 QB hits during the 2020 championship season, despite playing only 57 percent of the defensive snaps.

Gholston has logged nine seasons with the Bucs, yet he usually flies well under the radar. He is rarely quoted and rarely mentioned when breaking down Tampa Bay’s roster, but he’s been a solid pro who has earned the respect of Todd Bowles. He hasn’t missed a game since Bowles came on board in 2019 and he won’t be easily replaced if the right team comes along.

The longer Gholston remains on the market, however, the more plausible it becomes that Gholston’s agent works out a deal for a third contract with the Bucs.

At this point, it’s clear that Suh, Gholston and Jones weren’t top priorities for Jason Licht entering the free agent period. While it’s likely Jones will move on, Gholston and Suh could very well be back — especially if Mr. Brady drops a dime or two on them, urging their return.

The resolve of this franchise to push all its chips in is steadfast and impressive. You can thank Brady for that sense of urgency, so don’t be surprised if the Bucs make a little more noise by shattering that eerie silence surrounding Suh and Gholston.

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11 Responses to “Tampa Bay’s Tier 2”

  1. Bucfan Says:

    Jones is probably gone but I would like to see Suh, Gholston and JPP back on a team friendly deal.

  2. Bird Says:

    Not sure if you heard gholston comments …basically said he does not know what life is like outside Bucs organization. Wouldnt be surprised if he doesnt sign this week

    Terron armstead signed with miami. Love it.

  3. Daryl Green Says:

    I’m real cool on letting the mental midget go( Jones) I need the rock and Suh.
    Now go get me Carl Nass. I hope him coming out, doesn’t not hurt him,
    We have progressive owners, but it’s still a football locker room.

  4. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    We really can not afford to lose either Suh or Gholston, so lets hope we can keep them.
    ROJO needs to go to a run first team. He was never Arians pick for a running back because he is too one dimensional

  5. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    Bucfan said how I feel. If there’s one player i would never bet against returning from a tough injury, it’s JPP. LFG!!!

  6. Bucs Guy Says:

    Looks like Gholston is coming back. I don’t see JPP or Suh coming back unless they are willing to take a greatly reduced salary. Absolutely don’t see Suh doing that because he’s a merc. Bucs are picking DE and DT on day 1 and 2.

  7. gotbbucs Says:

    Gholston will be back. It’s just a matter of time.

    I could see them re-signing Suh possibly, JPP I think will have to wait. I’d be surprised if he can pass a physical. Suh always slow plays it. He’s probably not even in the continental United States right now. He usually gets the hell out of Dodge for quite a while after the season is over.

    Whether or not they sign either one of those guys, other players need to be allowed to develop behind them. Nacho is a good depth player but we definitely need more in that position to go with him. JTS needs to add some muscle mass, but he also needs playing time. JPP being on the roster slows that development down and I just don’t know if his body can hold up to a full season anymore. He fell apart at the seams last year.

  8. Thadeus Says:

    Don’t need JPP
    Should have traded Godwin. Damaged goods
    Suh and Gholston are staying.
    I’m still not convinced The Gronk is staying.

  9. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Rojo is too much of a liability from the neck up. His head isn’t in it.

  10. Hodad Says:

    Well we now know Will is back. Suh might be looking for starters money, and the Bucs view him now as a valuable back up. The way our FA signings have gone, you’d have to believe our first pick is going to be a DT. Licht said as much about getting quicker up front. If one of the top two DT’s are there at 27 that’s who’ll be lining up next to Vea, not Suh. I hope Suh does come back for another year as back up. JPP needs to be signed by a retirement home, hard pass bringing him back at all.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    I was done with Jones when he started stepping out of bounds and pouting on the sideline. PASS!
    Welcome back Gholston. Of whom I was extremely critical of prior to Bowles 3-4 defense. He’s flourished since.
    Suh racked up serious snaps and consistently produces. Yes, he’s older but who do you replace him with?