Football Outsiders: Bucs Still Need A Defensive Back

May 15th, 2022

Key 2022 season.

There are still a lot of decent free agents out there, as evidenced by the slimy Saints signing five-time Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry last week.

(Joe is just about convinced the salary cap applies to 30 teams in the NFL and the Crows and slimy Saints are exempt.)

Personally, Joe wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucs signed an edge-rusher or a guard, provided they can find one on the cheap. Currently, aside from Shaq Barrett, the Bucs are hoping to get a pass rush from two guys who have a grand total of one NFL season combined under their belts.

And of course, left guard is an open position. Joe is not advocating the Bucs go sign someone because Joe feels that hole will be addressed by someone already on the roster or second-round draft pick Luke Goedeke.

Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders believes the Bucs have a big hole at defensive back, even though the team has addressed this area in both free agency and the draft.

Knowles, typing for BSPN, detailed how slot cornerback let the Bucs down last season.

Tampa Bay [struggled] against tight ends and … “other” (No. 3 and No. 4) receivers. For a team as talented as the Buccaneers, those count as holes.

Sean Murphy-Bunting had some struggles as the slot corner, ranking 60th out of 80 qualified corners with 8.3 yards allowed per pass, according to Sports Info Solutions charting. Last year’s starting free safety, Jordan Whitehead, is gone — his replacement looks to be a mix of Logan Ryan, Keanu Neal and Mike Edwards. This should result in adequate play, but Super Bowl contenders are hoping for something a little above adequate.

At the very least, the Bucs could have used their fourth-round punter pick on adding some extra depth to their secondary. They did pick up Sam Houston State corner Zyon McCollum in the fifth round, but there were earlier opportunities to address the secondary that Tampa passed on.

Well, regular readers here  know Joe was panting for the Bucs to draft a corner in the first round. Knowles lays out a good argument for that, and every fan saw how cornerback play against the Rams in the playoffs was poor.

Another reason Joe was hoping the Bucs would draft a corner early is Joe does not believe soon-to-be-free agents Jamel Dean and SMB will both return next year, strictly because of the salary cap.

Joe is not nitpicking the recent draft. And Joe is very intrigued with the talent of rookie fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum.

With what Joe expects to be a lesser pass rush without Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, that will put more pressure on the defensive backs. Can they handle it?

56 Responses to “Football Outsiders: Bucs Still Need A Defensive Back”

  1. Bird Says:

    Yah. Agree with another dlineman

  2. Biff Barker Says:

    What kind of voodo math are the Saints using? How do they continually sign expensive free agents if they are in cap hell?

  3. Just Saying Says:

    Rams seem to sign whomever they want too.

  4. Bucs Win Says:

    Bunting and Dean both need to be mentally tougher, Dean especially seems soft.

  5. K2 Says:

    Zyon could very well be one of the best CB in the draft. No, doubt it will take some time to adjust to the NFL…but that is true with 1st and 2nd round guys as well.

  6. Destinjohnny Says:

    Imagine this team without tb12

  7. adam from ny Says:

    i think smb and dean are going to have very good seasons…

    i think it’s their time…

    dean looks ready and i’m sure smb is as well…

    also dean is “like a son” to bowles…those 2 are very tight…so unless he completely flops out this year, he will be back…dean is already bowles guy, and i’d bet he feels he can fix him if there are tweeks needed moving forward after the season…

    so dean has the inside leg over bunting due to the father son type relationship with bowles…

    but i think smb is ready to bounce back big time…has a better mouthpiece and is much more a face of the franchise type than dean…the kid can speak, so if he can back it up with stellar field play, he can be a legit bucs star in the media too…he almost has the gift of gab…

    so it will be interesting to see how the season plays out for them, who is resigned, and who is sent canoeing down the hillsborough river at season’s end

  8. adam from ny Says:

    yeah i think the bucs coaches and brass are banking on a stronger back end this year, and a somewhat weaker front 7…

    this is the year the back end should no longer be the week link on d…

    they’ve all come of age now…


  9. adam from ny Says:

    weak link*

  10. SB~LV Says:

    Vets that were starters last year will be cut due to age and contract size as the calendar pages flip , all these high pick DB’s in the recent draft will be pushing the vets into the marketplace

  11. adam from ny Says:

    sure you can replace desir or delaney with a cut vet…

    but are desir and delaney that bad as back ups in a system they know —where they could sit most of the time anyway if there are no injuries like last year

  12. adam from ny Says:

    anyone see how giddy zyon was on the podium?

    the kid was almost tripping on mesk…

    these rooks need to get lambasted in just one article…so to then walk out there all deadpan and sh!t…


  13. Casual Observer Says:

    IMO, the biggest needs (given Gronk returns) are DT, OLB, and MLB. Like many here have expressed, those areas need depth. We’ll soon see if that is what Licht perceives and addresses.

  14. Pewter Power Says:

    These people who write about teams they don’t know constantly make themselves look like idiots. Logan Ryan transitioned to safety for the giants, he is a corner and probably gonna steal that slot job from smb. Ryan will get more snaps at slot corner than safety

  15. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    I think Zyon McCollum > than SMB. He is going to be the steal of the Buc’s draft.

  16. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Pewter Power says, “Logan Ryan transitioned to safety for the giants, he is a corner and probably gonna steal that slot job from smb. Ryan will get more snaps at slot corner than safety.”

    Right on target!

  17. UKBuccaneer Says:

    With the front 7 looking notably weaker than last year, the secondary is going to have to improve. They’re symbiotic, and I think the D-Line made the secondary look better than it really was in 2020.

    It’s a good job this team can score 30+ on anybody, because the secondary won’t stop a thing.

  18. OBVIOUS Says:

    This is a copy/paste from yesterday……

    I’m putting a CALL IN TO DEFENSE RULES….

    DR, where is your thinking on our Front 7 and our secondary?
    I’m of the mind that we are in DEEP SHART TROUBLE defensively. I’m Sure that Way too many have drank the Kool Aid! Hey, I get that every team is new this year but guess what? SO ARE WE! And I Do Not Believe we have improved. In fact I suppose it’s Clear just how I do feel. Defensively We are In Trouble and Somebody fell asleep at the wheel is Exactly how I feel! Where is SUH AND an Additional Juggernaut? We literally have a 1st year guy who didn’t exactly win the job over a broken JPP And a brand new guy who has No Idea what the NFL means yet in place of the Mt. Saint SUH! As well as a second string Gohlston, Nelson and third string Nacho. We have VEA! That’s it…… AND A PASS RUSH? I DON’T THINK SO! We need at least 2 more Impressive Vets! And DON’T ask me where we’ll get the money from!! Every Other team in the NFL “THAT’S WORTH A DAMN” SURE AS HELL MAKES IT HAPPEN! And if I were Brady, if he TRULY has pull, I’d be OPENING MY MOUTH WITH SERIOUS CONCERN when it comes to my swan song last year if I were him!

    Anyways, again, I’m actually interested in many points of views from fellow fans and this time, very interested in Defense Rules view on this from such an analytical. I’m just curious DR. What say you? Or anybody who isn’t drinking Kool aid just a bit too much. No true disrespect to a fellow Buc lover but (a comment from yesterday) 6 and 1 as it stands just seems like WAY too much drinking!

    GO BUCS!

  19. Jon Says:

    How is it the saints sign Landry and honey badger and we still haven’t signed a dt, or a replacement for suh. Makes no sense. This defense was our biggest issue last year. No pressure

  20. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Same here Joe. I was advocating for hill cine or booth. They would of immediately upgraded our secondary n raise the level of competition n play. You can never go wrong fortifying the trenches the punter pick n RB pick prob should have bin DB or pass rusher

  21. BucsBeBack (Artist formally known as: BringBucsBack) Says:

    Ego & their belief that the d-backfield “is fixed” or that their is nothing wrong with it to begin with, is probably what allowed Licht & Bowles to be derelict in their duty by not drafting a DB higher and spending a third and fourth round pick on positions that could have been filled later in the draft.

    Do they not watch film? Did they not see how the defensive backfield struggles against ALL decent receiving corps and even bad quarterbacks? What about competition at these positions or does that not apply to the Buccaneers’ defensive backfield? I know, I know, just some miscommunication back there, in year 3 of the same defense!?

    No more GGJ- Guys Given Jobs!

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘With what Joe expects to be a lesser pass rush without Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, that will put more pressure on the defensive backs. Can they handle it?’

    Easy question: No, they can’t handle it without a decent pass rush. No team can; Secondaries NEED a respectable pass rush to be successful, and vice versa. Without a starting DT of Suh’s talent, Bucs will be in for a very hard year defensively. Our negotiating position took a big hit when we drafted part-time DE/part-time DT Logan Hall instead of a beastly DT of Suh’s pedigree. And since there are no DTs available on the FA market with Suh’s talent for Suh’s price, might be a good idea for JL to sign Suh.

  23. PassingThru Says:

    Licht has to restructure Donovan Smith’s contract. That’s where the money is, that’s where it has to be harvested. The draft yielded some long-term value, but this team has to go all-in right now.

    The Bucs are in need of two positions: A vet CB and a disruptive DL (Akiem Hicks or Suh). There’s slim pickings on CB market, either Robert Alford or Janoris Jenkins would work. Unlike a DL like Hicks or Suh, those two vet CBs could be a cheap signing due to mileage.

  24. SPARKY Says:

    Conspiracy theory #1. The NFL owners can’t have Brady winning the Super Bowl every other year. So let’s let the NFC teams, ie, the Saints and Rams sign anybody they need to beat the Bucs out of winning the South or the playoffs. Conspiracy theory #2. Nobody cares about the salary cap no more.

  25. Allbuccedup Says:

    I like Gronk but use his money to sign James Bradberry and restructure another contract sign Akiem Hicks.

  26. PassingThru Says:

    @Defense Rules

    I disagree. Akiem Hicks is more disruptive than Suh, it isn’t close. The problem with Hicks is the injury risk. Suh is a risk as well, there was slippage last season. We can’t pretend that signing Suh is riskless by only focusing on good health.

    I’d like either, but Hicks would be great if he can be paced through the regular season with Logan Hall.

  27. JonCyn90 Says:

    All this talk about JPP and Suh they did nothing last year JPP played 12 games and had 2.5 sacks tied for 147th 20 solo’s, 11 ast. 1 FF. Suh played 17 games had 6 sacks tied for 50th 15 solo’s 12 ast. Hell Nelson had 5 sack’s 13 solo’s and 5 ast. in 17 games as a rotational guy.Then JTS had 4 sacks 21 solo’s, 8 ast. I am sure if JTS and Nelson get more playing time the numbers will go up.

  28. adam from ny Says:

    suh is a must sign…

    maybe we can put him on our roster, but bill it to the saints bottomless payroll 🙂

  29. adam from ny Says:

    the saints are always cooking something up, and their new bottomless payroll in team meetings is referred to as #OperationDeepThroat

  30. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It is inconsistent to say that we will have difficulty signing both SMB & Dean next year and also say that they are lacking skills…..
    Now I will say that we will struggle to keep Nelson, Edwards, SMB & Dean……and sign a $50 mil QB.

  31. Joe in Michigan Says:

    JonCyn90: 6 sacks is “nothing” for an IDL? Suh had the 10th most sacks for players listed as a DT.

  32. Ash Says:

    @joncyn90 exactly keep seeing the same tired comments about how the front seven is going to be weaker this season. How exactly? jpp was wasting space on the field they had jts everywhere as a rookie not being able to master one position means you are a master at nothing. Suh is getting less and less snaps because of age isn’t as dominant at stopping the run as he used to be I just don’t get what fans are watching that I’m missing. Zyon is the cb help people were crying about Logan Hall was the DT help fans were crying about. I’m excited for this upcoming season think the bucs are contenders and thats the whole point to give yourself a chance nothing is guaranteed go bucs.

  33. Stone crab sam Says:

    If you think the saints beat us last year. Watch what happens if the Bucs don’t sign suh… just sayin😬

  34. adam from ny Says:

    kamara should be riding the pine in week 2…

    and jameis will have one “magoo eye” on devin white all game…

    landry is laundry these days, and honey badger bumped into honeybear and “honey bear don’t care”

  35. sasquatch Says:

    Joe thinks they might sign a guard? That’s hilarious.

    I could see Edge depth or CB depth.

  36. adam from ny Says:

    yes must sign suh…

    no doubt he is the rock of gibraltar up front

  37. Defense Rules Says:

    TBBF … ‘and sign a $50 mil QB’. OK, you win the Optimism Award for today TBBF. IF Licht signs a $50 mil QB next year however, he’d better be a 1-man-band because we’d have to gut the offense to pay for him.

    Adam from NY … ‘Suh is a must sign’. You’re preachin to the choir, but as an aside, the Saints don’t have a ‘bottomless payroll’ as so many seem to believe. They’ve just become quite adept at kicking the can down the street. No team in the NFL is in worse shape than they already are for 2023 (MINUS $70 mil salary CAP space with 58 players signed and that’s NOT counting Dead CAP). It’s a fun game … until it’s not. It eventually caught up with the Falcons & Panthers. And there’s an excellent chance it’ll catch up with us next year too; we’re in the 2nd worst shape at MINUS $61 mil for 2023, with the Panthers giving us a run for our money at MINUS $37 mil for next year.

    PassingThru … I wouldn’t mind Akiem Hicks, except for his injury history (he’s played in 29 out of 49 games for the Bears these past 3 years … 59% availability). Ndamukong Suh in comparison has played in 49 games for us these past 3 years … 100% availability. He’s had 14.5 sacks, 46 QB Hits, 23 TFLs, 6 PD and 2 TDs in those 3 years. Hicks has had 8 sacks, 35 QB Hits, 13 TFLs, 1 PD and 0 TDs in those same 3 years. Kinda think that Suh wins the availability AND productivity comparison. Besides, he’s a Buc thru-and-thru now, not a mercenary like some have contended.

  38. TOMMY MORDUE Says:


  39. OBVIOUS Says:

    You maybe tired of hearing how we BETTER get help if we’re ACTUALLY going to compete but that’s just too bad because that’s the reality. A rookie is the answer? GET REAL!
    I don’t think you know very much about “professional football” if you actually believe a rookie in Hall is the answer to the “lack of” on the front line.
    You better Wake Up! It’s CLEAR that you (Ash) believe that we’re not only good with rookies and 1 year guys, well we’re gonna run the table and have an undefeated year. That’s NOT going to happen! In fact, if we don’t add help IMMEDIATELY, I doubt we win the division if help isn’t added.

    I’m definitely wondering what Brady might be thinking? O and Ash, thanks for making my point about people being ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL. Joe himself is starting to March up and down concerning is seriousness and LACK OF seriousness and I hope he/they start asking questions…..

    I’m “guessing” that the front office already has plans and or arrangements for Suh or someone on the way but I admit, I’m just GUESSING! They Can’t possibly feel good or comfortable at all with what we have so far. No Way! Bowles IS a defensive coach and sure as hell knows better. Right???

    Let me just say it again for the asleep, WAKE UP!

  40. Hodad Says:

    Without JPP, and Suh Bucs won’t be able to generate a pass rush? Don’t remember JPP getting to the QB last year Joe. That’s why he’s gone, he couldn’t make plays anymore.

  41. sasquatch Says:

    May 15th, 2022 at 1:00 pm


    stop yelling.

  42. Tony Says:

    They still need at least another CB, S, DE, DT, OL & another LB wouldn’t hurt.

  43. Tony Says:

    They still need another CB, S, DE, DT, OL & another LB wouldn’t hurt.

  44. GOB Says:

    Logan Ryan’s versatility is his strength. He’s had over 200 snaps at three different secondary spots. His leadership will help to calm a sometime frantic group. The bucs still need another corner though. Davis isn’t a true #1. SMB can be erratic and inconsistent. I was surprised the bucs didn’t further address the secondary in free agency. Maybe someone will shake loose. Still have pre and post June 1 cuts and the trade market. Health alone won’t improve the group enough. Licht obviously believes they have enough at the position. I couldn’t disagree more.

  45. PassingThru Says:

    @Defense Rules

    You’re cherry-picking the stats. A three-year average smooths out the decline in Suh, who definitely slipped last season. Hicks will get more pressures, hits, and sacks next season, the only question is health. The question which I anticipated you’d ignore was Suh slipping. And the slippage was definitely there last season. I expect even more slippage this season, and I’m pretty sure Licht does too.

    I would like Suh back, but I’d prefer Hicks as he might be even less expensive and produce more. My hope is that Hicks is signed and kept on a snap count, rotated with Logan Hall.

  46. GOB Says:

    Passing, I absolutely agree about hicks. He’s past his prime, but so is Suh. One of the biggest mistakes belichick has ever made, was letting hicks walk. He can still push the pocket. Hope they get him.

  47. Dman Says:

    You can cover weak DB play with a fierce pass rush, not so much the other way around. Our D line is thin. We can add all the DB’s, WR’s, TE’s we want, but if we can’t rush the passer and stop the run we’re not going all that far.

  48. Adrnagy Says:

    Thats fine. Add another CB or dline. Take gabbert spot. Or griffin.
    3 -4 qb in the roster when you have the goat ?

  49. Jor Mantegna Says:

    It’s not that hard to beat JPP’s “pass rush” from last year (last year specifically due to injury)…in fact, Tryon did on much fewer pass rush snaps. Tryon this year is an upgrade over anything JPP did last year. That’s just the case, as much as I lived the Warrior in JPP, he was a hindrance last year bad

  50. steele Says:

    “Bucs still need a defensive back”? How about Bucs need a defense, period. Another veteran in the secondary. Plus as many DL and edge as they can afford (restructure those contracts now). Shopping list:

    Akiem Hicks, Jerry Hughes, Justin Houston, J Clowney, Melvin Ingram, Carlos Dunlap.

    Suh, Larry Ogunjobi, Eddie Goldman, Sheldon Richardson

    NFL doing its best to keep Brady out of the playoffs. Worst schedule on earth. They ain’t messing around.

  51. Brandon Says:

    Great D is built from the line on back. Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush.

    BTW… Whitehead was a strong safety…if this “expert” doesn’t even know what position the guy plays, he probably doesn’t know much. Sure… he’s still a safety. And Brady is still a back. Does that make him a fullback?

    We signed Ryan, Neal, signed two UDFA rookies, have Cockrell that can play safety… and now Mike Edwards has the opportunity to win the full-time job. Considering he’s been our best safety against the pass the past two seasons, he NEEDS to be out there.

    As for CB… Dean had all-pro numbers last year allowing opposing QB rating of just 50.0 and no TDs given up. Davis got a big contract. Our outside CBs are in great shape. SMB is the wildcard. McCollum might be in the mix at nickel as well as Ryan, maybe Edwards, Delaney…the thing is… SMB has the goods to be a big-time playmaker from the slot. If he’s 100% healthy, he should be good.

  52. Buczilla Says:

    I’m still baffled that we haven’t grabbed an outside corner to start opposite Davis. Dean and Bunting are always hurt and even Davis got the injury bug last year. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have if you can’t get on the damn field. Not a single one of them have proven to be more than an above average starter and the guys behind them got torched last year.

    Hopefully Licht has a plan because if we go through two seasons in a row of injury riddled, subpar corner play, it’s going to be a disservice to the other players and fans. Please fix this mess Licht before it bites us in the butt again. Oh, another pass rusher would be nice too. 😜

  53. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    Definitely need to draft one more starting CB

  54. David Says:

    Davis & Dean & the safeties should be very good just because of the fact that they will be healthier this year. SMB or Edwards or whoever they have in the slot needs to step up. TE coverage should be better this year with a healthy LVD also.

    My biggest concern for the whole team is D-line. They’re counting on a rookie to be in the rotation & on JTS (and Nelson) to take a big leap forward. Hope so. Having VEA in shape to take 70% or more of the snaps this year will go a long way

  55. Reach87 Says:

    Great points on the pass rush. There are more than a few ways to get it. If your blitz scheme is good and you take away the quick read, the effect is the same (and sometimes better because you can force the pick). BL: who’s giving up on the Bucs in May? Hilarious. Go Bucs!

  56. Eckwood Says:

    Richardson, Barr, Clowney and a few other great stop gap one year d lineman