Defensive Interior Could Use Some Bodies

May 21st, 2022

“Hey Jason Licht, you lose my number?

So the Bucs have a Pro Bowler, two wily veterans and a rookie second-round draft pick poised to start/play significant time on the Bucs interior.

And the Bucs have two absolute studs playing inside linebacker.

But depth in those areas? Well, there is none. As a result, Scott Smith of could see the team making a play between now and the beginning of training camp to get depth at those positions.

… it’s not like the cupboard is bare. But at least as of now Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon have not been re-signed, and they represent about 1,110 defensive snaps on the line from last year’s team. Somebody has to pick those up and right now you’re looking at Hall, Rakeem Nuñez-Roches and a handful of guys that haven’t yet played very much. If the Bucs could find a steady veteran at the right price to give them 400 or 500 snaps, I would like that investment.

At inside linebacker, Kevin Minter has also not re-signed and he has been the player to step into the lineup every time Devin White or Lavonte David has missed time over the last three seasons. It’s quite possible that the Buccaneers think 2021 fifth-round pick K.J. Britt is ready to take on that role, and I would certainly like to see that happen, but as of right there are no off-ball linebackers with any experience of note behind David and White, unless you count safety Keanu Neal. Neal played linebacker for the Cowboys last year but very much seems intent on going back to safety this year. Even if Britt is first in line for the main reserve role, the Bucs could probably still use some depth in addition to him, special teams ace Grant Stuard and undrafted rookies J.J. Russell and Olakunle Fatukasi.

No doubt the Bucs could use another veteran if both Ndamukong Suh and Steve McLendon are not re-signed. And the fact Kevin Minter is still out there, well, maybe Smith is onto something that the Bucs think Kenny Britt can take over for him.

For those sweating over a lack of depth in the interior front two lines, remember that in August there will be quality players looking for work. That’s how the Bucs got Playoff Lenny.

Dudes getting a chance to take a ride on a Super Bowl chase with Tom Brady … Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht ought to get the pick of the litter after the final cutdown deadline.

55 Responses to “Defensive Interior Could Use Some Bodies”

  1. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    If we can afford it, I want to see us resign Suh. Suh together with Vita Vea makes us darn near impossible to run on.

  2. teacherman777 Says:

    Minter is great.

    I don’t get it.

  3. #8 Says:


  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Surprised Minter hasn’t been picked up elsewhere……he may be a late signing…..I still think Licht will scrape up the cash for Suh.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    With JTS bulking up & projected to get more snaps, and with Logan Hall projected to get some quality snaps, the pressure on Vea AND Suh to stay on the field a bunch SHOULD be reduced somewhat this year. In the last 3 years, Suh’s played in all our games (Mr Reliability) & contributed a total of 2,377 def snaps, decreasing steadily each year however (54.6 snaps/game in 2019, 49.1 snaps/game in 2020, and 42.2 snaps/game in 2021). At that trend, Bucs could probably expect around 35-38 snaps/game from him in 2022.

    Suh’s made a tad over $25 mil total in the past 3 years with the Bucs for contributing an average of almost 800 def snaps/year. At 35 snaps/game this year, he’d get almost 600 def snaps, roughly 1/4 of what he given us in 3 years. So around $6.5 mil would make sense it seems to me, with some incentives for more $$$ if he plays more. Pay the man; he earns it.

  6. Casual Observer Says:

    No question about the depth need in these areas. It may be that some bargains in the FA market are out there.

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    teacherman777 … I agree with you about Minter BTW. Kevin played for $1.0 mil last year, same amount as Josh Wells, Justin Watson & Kyle Trask. Like all 3 players, but Minter was a lot more valuable to us in 2021 than any of them. I’d love to believe that Stuard & Britt are ready to step in if LVD or White gets injured, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

  8. Beeej Says:

    After what the Saints have done, the cap is clearly not an impediment

  9. Allbuccedup Says:

    Like to see Suh back split time with Hall until hes ready for full time.

  10. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Don’t mess around and let Suh sign elsewhere. There should be no pretending that they can get better for cheaper. He is physically younger than his chronological age.

  11. Dick LeBeau Jr. Says:

    Really? Again, with this. The team is trying to get younger. We have depth, it’s just not the depth that you want. I’m sure they’ll sign someone, but it’s time to move on from Minter. Easily replaceable player. McClendon might be an option only because he’s cheaper than Suh. But I’d like to see the young guys develop into solid players without the old man hinderance.

  12. Eckwood Says:

    Love Suh but Richardson is better and half the price …………Minter did not play well at all last year , tons of replacements for his level of play last year ……… that being said White wasn’t that good either !!

  13. Mike Johnson Says:

    Right now, this D line is very best. Od course, we have a Defensive guy as HC and we can and will, scapegoat him for all of our deficiencies. Suh really does need to be resigned. I’ve said all along we paid about zero attention to our Defense this off season. Brady might have to score a whole lotta points if our D cannot get of the field.

  14. ChiBuc Says:

    Idk sh!t, and not nearly as football smart as all of you, but the lack of urgency and the type of tweener personnel (LB/S, S/DB, IDL/EDGE) being brought in makes me think Bowles is cooking up some new schemes/looks. Couldn’t hurt.

    Btw, on that ill-fated season ending play, only 1 player seemed to know their job… SUH!

  15. GOB Says:

    The fact they haven’t resigned Suh has nothing to do with the cap. It’s about real dollars. He’s just not worth the money he’s asking for anymore. He’s always been about the money. The bucs could sign both Akiem Hicks and Brandon Phillips for the money Suh is asking. I think Hicks is actually better at this stage, at least for the money.

  16. adam from ny Says:

    yeah bring back gronk and suh…

    and do a patchwork job in august to round out the veteran positions of need…for depth


  17. GOB Says:

    Eckwood, I agree about Sheldon Richardson.

  18. Biff Barker Says:

    Spot on GOB. Suh is just not worth the money.

    Bucs FO knows exactly what they are doing with Suh. They have graded a ton of film. Currently unsigned by any other team, Suh will be a low budget, last minute roster consideration somewhere. I doubt Suh will play for what he is offered.

  19. Duane Says:

    Suh and Minter should both come back this year if we are all in. You cant replace that experience. Minter has been a VERY solid insurance policy for this team. Britt would have to be physically better, and make all the right decisions- I just cant see that to be the case at this point.

  20. PassingThru Says:

    As it stands, this team is overly reliant on a 45 year old Tom Brady. While I think the world of Brady, this team took a step back from where they were at the beginning of last season. Even if we assume Gronk re-signs, this team doesn’t have the same quality receivers as last season, and no homies, Gage is not as good as AB, it isn’t even close. And whomever the Bucs use as a WR3, it will be a downgrade from the beginning of the 2021 campaign. They’re also missing a quality DE, which ideally should be Akiem Hicks rather than Suh, though Suh is better than whomever they use to plug the hole on the DL. And while the JTS hype train is chugging along at full speed, fans tend to forget that at this time of year every young player gets hyped. Some deliver on the hype, some don’t. JTS will definitely not play at the level of where JPP was two years ago. Last, you cannot lose an Ali Marpet at LG and not experience problems protecting the QB. Goedeke, if he starts, will likely make mistakes, and he seems more run blocker than pass protector, but we’ll know more in a couple of months.

    Every team in the NFL has holes, it’s an enduring facet of NFL football. There are obviously more holes this season than last. Some can be fixed, like signing Akiem Hicks, others cannot be fixed (ride or die with Goedeke and JTS). I just hope ownership and Licht have the desire to restructure Donovan Smith and go all-in this season with Hicks and a cheap vet CB, which is all that remains on the free-agent market anyway.

  21. GOB Says:

    Biff, I think you and I are in the minority of folks here who actually understands how this works. For those that don’t. The NFL has three designations for guaranteed money. They are for skill, cap, and injury. I’m quite sure Suh wants all three. If his play falls off, he wants his contract to read, F U pay me. If the bucs get over the cap, because multiple players reach incentives. F U pay me. If he gets injured, F U pay me. He isn’t going to play for an incentive laden deal.

  22. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Short at LB position? Really? When you freaking passed on the best LB in the draft in Devin Lloyd at 27? Cry me a river and I told you so many many times.

  23. geno711 Says:

    Really been a Suh fan and his ability to play a bunch of snaps at a high quality level. I don’t see the Bucs believing that Hall snaps will be the same as Suhs snaps. Possibly the Bucs are leveraging between Suh age 35 and Sheldon Richardson age 31.

    Richardson had about as many snaps as Suh these last two seasons and played last season at under 4 million for the season.

    Is Richardson at 3.5 million for the season better than Suh at 8 million per season?

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    GOB & Biff … Just curious; exactly how much is Suh asking to play for the Bucs this year? And how much was the Bucs’ counter-offer? Your comments are constantly ‘He’s just not worth the money’ so obviously you must know precisely how much he’s asking, if he’s even mentioned a price at this point of course.

  25. geno711 Says:


    I am not seeing anything that suggests that Devin Lloyd is a pro bowl type player. What are you seeing that suggests he is some sort of sure thing or would have fit the Buc’s style defense? We already saw the Cowboys did not have a first-round grade on him.

  26. David Says:

    They definitely need a veteran DT that can withstand the run and push the pocket a little. Hopefully SUH even though he lost a lot last year.
    As for LB, I did not realize Minter has not re-signed. He’s an excellent back up but when LVD is down they need someone who can cover TEs And he’s not great at it.

  27. ChiBuc Says:

    GOB, good take, but here’s the thing. Suh doesn’t get hurt…FU pay him. More snaps than the young buck Vea… FU pay him and is the reason this team is even mentioned re run def… FU pay him.

    I get it, he is asking too much but I feel that will flesh out by camps end. He deserves to be pd for what they expect of him in 23 while considering his past contributions in production and def identity. Without Suh, Barrett is just a 250lb sprinter.

    As a Chi-guy I can attest to Hicks’ as a player, he’s a rock, but he misses games occasionally, not Suh. Draft shark projects Hicks to miss almost 3 games…Suh, 0.5

  28. BucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Just look at the tape geno and you can see his football IQ is off the charts. Lloyd always seems to be around the ball whether he is defending the run or pass. Lloyd was 2nd in the nation in TFL which again speaks to his ability to read and react. Lloyd also had 7 sacks. Lloyd also returned for his Senior season to accomplish something Utah had never done which was win the Pac-12 , he is a high character guy-which is exactly the type of player you with skills a team should have on their radar. There is a reason the Jags were happy to move up and grab him and it will be on display this coming year , but sadly not in RayJay.

  29. Defense Rules Says:

    PassingThru … I thought Hicks would be a reasonable add also, until I figured out that his availability really sucks. In the last 3 years, he’s played in 29 of the 49 games the Bears played (59% availability), giving them a TOTAL of 1,291 def snaps (about 430 per year average). He contributed a grand total of 8 sacks, 35 QB Hits & 13 TFLs in that period, plus 84 tackles. I’m not impressed.

    Suh on the other hand played in all 49 games (100% availability), giving us a total of 2,377 def snaps (almost 800 per year average, and almost twice as many as Hicks). Suh contributed a grand total of 14.5 sacks, 46 QB Hits & 23 TFLs in that period, plus 112 tackles. Suh might be 35, but he’s been a lot more productive than Hicks in these past 3 years.

    Hicks’ contract with the Bears has averaged $12 mil per year for these past 4 yrs. His current Market Value (Spotrac) is projected at $5.5 mil. Maybe there’s a valid reason that it slid so much?

  30. Pickgrin Says:

    Suh – Yes – but only if/when he agrees to play for $5M or so…. which seems to be the Bucs stance thus far.

    McClendon – No

    Minter – NO! He did not play well last year when needed and seems to have lost a step or two. We need to upgrade from Minter at back up ILB.

  31. GOB Says:

    Defense, no I don’t know what he’s asking for. I’m simply extrapolating from past contracts. Don’t forget, the guy admitted he went to Miami simply for the money. I would’ve done the same, but it’s a terrible look to admit it publicly. Answer me this defense, does Suh strike you as a player who will go to the highest bidder? I believe he would, irregardless ( as my friends in Jersey say) of the teams ability to win.
    I just think you can get the same production, for less money.

  32. Cleanhouse Says:

    Maybe if lucky, 7-10 without Suh

  33. PassingThru Says:

    DefenseRules, in a nutshell both Suh and Hicks carry risks, albeit different risks. They are both “of a certain age” players in a game that his highly corrosive. Hicks carries an injury risk factor, one that might be mitigated via shared snap count with Logan Hall. The verb is “might” because even then there are no guarantees. Suh on the other hand carries a degradation in performance risk. I watched Suh last season, and the decline from 2020 was quite noticeable. Exacerbating that problem is that Suh is probably asking for money beyond his ability to contribute (price to performance ratio). He received $8 million in 2020, and $9 million in 2021. I’m pretty sure he’s asking for something in that neighborhood this time around. The way I see it, Suh is an above average DE, someone who should not be carrying a contract above $4.5 million to $5 million. He’s just not that kind of DE at this point in his career, particularly as I project him being worse this season.

    They carry separate risks. In terms of impact, Hicks is the superior player at this point, providing he can suit up.

  34. Biff Barker Says:

    DR, I always had the $8-10M number in my head for Suh. I’m not sure I picked this up.

  35. SOEbuc Says:


    I don’t know why they haven’t resigned Minter or surprised he hasn’t been picked up elsewhere. He was a ST captain and a good, Buc vet backup. I don’t know why people talk about McClendon. I think he’s been garbage from the beginning he got here. Find a younger vet somewhere. I trust Jason and the Bucs to take care of another WIN NOW year.

  36. #8 Says:

    Serious question. Anyone see any help in the Usfl perhaps? Those guys can be signed right?

  37. Chant Says:

    This is an important year to load up on everything you can because these types of opportunities don’t come often. This is a one year opportunity with Brady, don’t be cute and screw it up!

  38. sasquatch Says:

    Suh has a lot of fans, and he’s been valuable… but many people who have looked at his tape say he’s just not that good anymore. A veteran with younger legs might be a better option.

  39. geno711 Says:

    BucsFanSince1976 Says:
    May 21st, 2022 at 2:17 pm

    Haven’t watched any tape on him. I will rely on your analysis for his college skill. Personally, never felt that interior LB was near a big need so the 1st round would have been a reach for me with bigger needs on this team.

    I do see he is the oldest of any player from this years draft. He will be 24 years old in September. Maybe he should be dominating against 19-21 year-olds?

  40. PassingThru Says:

    In addition Defense Rules, a big problem with stats is that it ignores too many variables in sports like football and basketball. You’re competing against your teammates in categories like sacks (or rebounds) and stats like tackles can ignore the fact that teams will attack the weakest link on defense. There are some stats that could transcend limitations of simple stats, but they tend to have observer bias. My guess is that PFF stats have that problem.

    But I digress. My eyes weren’t lying last season. Suh is definitely slowing down.

  41. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    I think Suh and Gronk’s agents communicated to Licht that both want to play for the Bucs but are not interested in signing until AFTER the offseason training. Why, because they are older, experienced and do not prefer to put their bodies through a long training camp.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Biff Barker … ‘I always had the $8-10M number in my head for Suh. I’m not sure I picked this up’.

    That’s what I think most would expect Suh to be asking Biff based on his last contracts with the Bucs (2019 – $9.25 mil; 2020 – 8 mil; 2021 – $9 mil). His def snaps have been sliding each year with us though, and I’d expect he’ll be in the 600-650 def snaps range this year WHEN he signs with us. That’d give him a value around $6.5 mil. I think that’d be fair, providing there were some incentives in there if he exceeded that in the event of injuries to other players.

    In any event, I don’t think it’s all about the money at this point in his career, other than the notion of ‘respect’ that money can connote. Tampa’s home now for the Suh family, and I expect it’ll continue to be ‘home’. He’s rebuilt his ‘bad boy’ image here (from earlier years), and is a true team leader & mentor to our younger guys (including to Vita Vea BTW). BA has called him in the past ‘the Tom Brady of the defense’. That’s a pretty solid compliment. Besides, he told folks last year that he wanted another SB ring for the twins (can’t have them bickering over a single ring; they obviously each need their own).

  43. steele Says:

    All of them, including Suh, need to be thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, evaluated injury-wise. A lot of factors to weigh. Suh brings familiarity, but he is quite clearly over the hill and is an injury risk.But so are many other available DTs. Goldman, Ogunjobi, Sheldon Richardson. The question is, how brings the consistent explosiveness and pass rush that was missing last season?

    Same with edges. Hicks, Jerry Hughes, Justin Houston, Clowney, Dunlap etc.

    Bucs need a couple of these guys, if they check out. I agree with PassingThru, the defense looks like it will regress unless big moves are made.

  44. Defense Rules Says:

    PassingThru … I don’t disagree with you about stats because there are so many variables involved (quality of your teammates, how you’re being used, playing through injuries, etc). But I think they can show you ‘trends’ over a period of time, and that’s largely where their value is.

    For instance, Suh’s only missed 2 games in his 12 year career. Does that mean that he won’t miss any games when he signs with us this year? Not at all, but it does show that he does an awesome job of keeping himself in top physical condition. At the same time however, his def snaps per game have been steadily decreasing (understandable IMO for an aging DT). The ‘trend’ tells me that optimistically we should expect 600-650 def snaps from him this year. Should he be paid as much as when he was giving us 800 or more def snaps per season? Not as far as I’m concerned, and that’s why I think around $6.5 mil for 2022 would be ‘fair’. Will Suh sign for that? Your guess is as good as mine.

  45. Defense Rules Says:

    AlabamaBucsFan … I agree with your take 100%. No rush for either of them.

  46. Buccanstopit Says:

    Richard Sherman is reportedly considering joining Amazon’s NFL broadcast team

  47. PassingThru Says:

    Defense Rules:

    One of the most promising and likely unexplored avenue in sports analytics are Shapley Values (or perhaps they are derived, only we don’t know about it). Look it up, DR, I think you might like the concept.

    A Shapley Value is what an individual member of a group contributes to make the group more (or less) effective; think marginal contributions. You have to examine every group permutation for a given player as there are 10 other guys on the field, and of course, it doesn’t take into account game situations or opposing team personnel packages. But I think it’s an interesting concept.

    I like to think of the purest form is in basketball, when you have a ball hog out on the floor. He’ll give you really glorious stats in scoring, but he’s robbing his teammates of touches which makes them less effective (cold) on offense. And if the clown is saving all of his energy on offense, he’s placing a greater burden on his four teammates on defense. A ball hog would have a pronounced, negative Shapely Value.

  48. Joe in Michigan Says:

    steele Says:
    May 21st, 2022 at 5:59 pm
    All of them, including Suh, need to be thoroughly, and I mean thoroughly, evaluated injury-wise. A lot of factors to weigh. Suh brings familiarity, but he is quite clearly over the hill and is an injury risk.
    Dude, injuries? Suh hasn’t missed a game in 10 years. His play has slipped some, but he’s still a serviceable player. Is he worth the salary he wants? We shall see what the Bucs think about that.

  49. joseph smallwood Says:

    I guess that Will Gholston is a ghost?

  50. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Can someone who knows tell me how the NFL prevents outside money from providing cap relief?

    Literally Corps are as easy to set up as any paper work…so who is going to track down all those Corps…some perhaps even off shore to make sure it’s not for example the Glazers, or Jerry Jones, with a corporate front paying Suh or whomever.

    What would even raise suspicion since players make loads of outside money already?

  51. PassingThru Says:


    I never read the Collective Bargaining Agreement for the NFL, but I have read the entire CBA for the NBA. I’m sure the two documents share similar provisos. The NBA CBA basically says that any attempts to circumvent the agreement will result in discipline. Under those broad terms, outside material contracts with a team would result in a violation.

  52. Cleanhouse Says:

    St Pete, I’ve often wondered the same thing.

  53. Defense Rules Says:

    PassingThru … The Shapley Value sounds like a fascinating concept (and Lloyd Shapley must’ve been a fascinating individual to work analyses with). Could see its potential applicability in game theory where everyone has the same or similar roles, but applying it to professional football with everyone having relatively unique roles could be difficult (I’m not smart enough to know). And would probably be a LOT more subjective than say analyzing the effectiveness of say ‘team members’ playing computer games online. But still, the underlying premise is excellent.

  54. THOMAS PFALZ Says:

    If they could sign Minter for a mil, it would be a bargain.

  55. ChiBuc Says:

    I’d rather have old reliable legs on the field, than fresher young legs injured on the sidelines. Suh, has to be given the benefit of doubt when considering his injury history, or lack there of.

    Stats are fine and dandy, but a club crushes your calculator every time. When going to battle, I want a club at my side, not some Stat sheet.