Sean Murphy-Bunting Stepping Up At Right Time

December 27th, 2022

Arrow pointing up.

Back when Bucs cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting racked up three picks in the 2020 playoffs, including a critical interception of Aaron Rodgers in the 2020 NFC Championship game (the Bucs likely don’t win without that pick), Joe thought SMB was about to become an NFL stud.

His dislocated elbow in the 2021 season opener against Dallas really threw him off. When he returned, he was nothing like the corner who dominated in the playoffs.

This year SMB struggled early and saw Jamel Dean separate from the pack. SMB lost his starting job with both him and Dean in the final year of their rookie contracts. Dean will be a rich man in three months.

SMB? Joe wasn’t sure the Bucs would bring him back. Attitudes may be changing, though.

Recently, especially on Sunday, SMB has been playing strong football. And this was not lost on Bucs coach Todd Bowles yesterday.

“Sean’s been playing well the last two weeks,” Bowles said. “He’s mentally prepared during the week, he practices hard, he understands what he has to do.

“He’s one of our smartest players back there. He rises to the challenges of the game, and he’s been playing well.”

Has SMB been playing well enough to return?

The Bucs will be crunched on the salary cap next season (though Peter King’s news yesterday that thanks to revenue from the new NFL Sunday Ticket contract with Google, each team’s salary cap should rise by some $78 million annually is refreshing news). Joe isn’t sure the Bucs will be able to outbid for Dean, though Joe would be inclined to find a way.

Has SMB played well enough of late to gain support for the Bucs to bring him back with a much cheaper price tag than Dean is expected to fetch?

Personally, Joe would have to see how SMB finishes the season. The fact the Bucs drafted Zyon McCollom last spring suggests, in theory, the Bucs aren’t banking on both Dean and SMB returning.

17 Responses to “Sean Murphy-Bunting Stepping Up At Right Time”

  1. Leighroy Says:

    Sure, I guess. He managed to find himself well out of the play on the cards’ rushing TD. A savvier CB would have found his nose at least somewhere closer to the rusher.

    You could say I’m nitpicking but it was attention to detail, specifically DBs playing the run in this case, that made the Kiffin defense so elite back in the day. What would Ronde think?

  2. firethecannons Says:

    keep all the corners, all 3 of them are good and they are really gelling, find a way to keep Logan Ryan too.

  3. Leopold Stotch Says:

    Idk Joe, I don’t think Zyon is going to be the surefire replacement for either of those two. If they would have drafted the kid the Vikings picked out of Clemson, that’d be more telling, or shoot even Cobe Bryant (who I was pounding on the table for), alas here we are.

  4. Bucsfanman Says:

    For a guy anticipated to have been a starter, he sure has fizzled out. I’d be looking down the road too if I were the Bucs.

  5. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Can’t or won’t tackle. Same with Dean. Contact avoiders.

  6. Goatfarmer Says:

    Zyon McCollum doesn’t cover well but at least his speed doesn’t show up on the field when necessary, and it’s a good thing he can’t tackle.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Zion is a rookie with rookie issues….he will develop…..remember Davis, Dean & SMB early…….they got torched.

    We won’t be able to keep Dean, SMB, Edwards & Nelson……maybe 3 of the 4 if we let Dean walk because he will be the most expensive.

  8. Bucsalltheway Says:

    He strapped DeAndre Hopkins…threw off every routine catch and got his hand in on break ups and he didn’t get beat I like what I saw…some of you are not grateful we lose that game if he didn’t plan defense well at all…idk what alot of you saw but I seen a guy ready to turn up come playoffs…once dean returns we will get more coverage sacks and off mark throws….

  9. adam from ny Says:

    zyon at this point is like 3 steps behind everything mentally…and that equals totally lost out there on the field…

    but i keep hearing he has supreme athleticism and good speed…

    so he’s a back end project player that you hope comes together…

    i don’t like to see #27 out there because they def do target him…a lot

    if they think they have something in him, they let smb go – especially if bowles is staying around after this year – because he loves dean…

    i’d like to keep both smb and dean – but salary wise it seems impossible at this point

  10. adam from ny Says:

    i see smb going to a high profile team like the cowboys or giants

  11. Hodad Says:

    Dean is the better corner, SMB might be playing well now, but hasn’t always. The deciding factor for me would be that both are always missing time with injuries. I wouldn’t make either a priority. The other factor is they know the system, but will it be the same system going forward? Bowles might get another season, but he will be fired after that. So knowing the system might not be enough.

  12. ClwJB Says:

    The 3rd stringer launching multiple balls into the stands was more effective than SMB against Hopkins – dude was fuming multiple times

    We are lucky Kyler or even MCCoy was out – would not have been close

  13. orlbucfan Says:

    SMB is playing out his contract. Even with the Google deal (man, do they have mountains of coin or what?), he’s got his agent putting out feelers to other teams. Licht will do his usual: find more hidden gems in the draft and the UDFAs, so I wish the young man the best.

  14. Lakeland Steve Says:

    If the Bucs start rebuilding next year they may let Dean walk and keep Murphy-Bunting because he would be much cheaper. It would be nice if they could find a way to keep Dean, but who knows what will happen in the post Brady era.

  15. ToiletBowles Says:

    I don’t know about this one. I watched this last game closely and all I saw from SMB was that he was the first person to the ball yet whiffed on all of his tackles. I also watched him get toated quite a few times. I like the kid, and I think he has a place here but he still needs work.

  16. Buccos Says:

    I think that they are 2 of the best young DB’s in the market after this season. Dean has played better, longer

  17. Mike Says:

    SMB played very well, but he definitely got beat at least once by Hopkins for a sure fire TD if the Cardinals had anyone other than a 3rd string QB.