Jamel Dean Vs. Sean Murphy-Bunting

January 20th, 2023

Sean Murphy-Bunting

One offseason Buccaneers decision will be hard to predict for a few reasons.

Joe is referring to the Bucs likely choosing to pay pending free agent cornerbacks Jamel Dean or Sean Murphy-Bunting, but not both.

Each was drafted in 2019 and has proven to be a starting NFL cornerback. (Stop hating, haters. They are starter quality; that doesn’t mean they are great players.).

Murphy-Bunting has been lauded repeatedly this season by Todd Bowles on the Buccaneers Radio Network for being an extraordinarily smart player. Bowles doesn’t drop the “smart” label on many guys.

Murphy-Bunting also has nine career interceptions, including three in the playoffs, compared to seven for Dean.

Dean, however, is more of the long, explosive athlete at cornerback that Bowles likes, and he can cover elite receivers man-to-man. But he lacks the versatility of Murphy-Bunting, who also plays nickel.

Murphy-Bunting has been injury prone the past two seasons. Dean has battled plenty of injuries through his four-year career but has fought through them to stay on the field more than Murphy-Bunting.

With the season on the line against the Cowboys on Monday, Murphy-Bunting got the starting nod ahead of Dean. Bowles said Dean was getting back healthy from his bad toe and an illness, so he went with Murphy-Bunting, who had been sharp.

Still, Dean was available and the decision was telling. Murphy-Bunting didn’t see the field in Weeks 1 and 2 of the season as he sat behind Dean.

The Bucs are in salary cap hell and Joe sees no way they can retain both cornerbacks. Joe would choose Dean, but Joe would put money on Murphy-Bunting being the one who returns.

Murphy-Bunting probably will be cheaper on the market, but Joe knows how much Bowles values smarts and playmaking ability, so Joe almost thinks cost won’t be a big factor.

89 Responses to “Jamel Dean Vs. Sean Murphy-Bunting”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I think Dean will command more money on the FA market than SMB……dollar for dollar I’d take Dean…..but I think he will be too expensive.
    I agree that we likely can’t afford both.

  2. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    The best way to combat the Defensive PI calls and the versatility receivers have is to get more explosive and longer corners. Dean has those qualities, while Bunting has been out gunned numerous times by above average receivers. I wish we could keep both because they know the system, but this will not be the case this year.

  3. Goatfarmer Says:

    Dean > SMB in a close one. Since the Bucs secondary sucked against Dallas, maybe it sucked worse because Bowels moved on SMB rather than Dean.

    Would be nice to keep them both but if I had to pick one I take Dean. Less inconsistent.

  4. sasquatch Says:

    SMB is affordable. Dean is not. It’s that simple.

  5. SB~LV Says:

    Shouldn’t we let the new head coach decide?

  6. SKBucsFan Says:

    I agree Dean is the choice but will cost more.

  7. Bucsfan13 Says:

    I can’t wait for the Jeff Darlington piece that will inevitably drop about what went on with this team behind the scenes. My guess is that it will drop on Sunday. He will be done talking to a “source” close to Brady by then

  8. Marine Buc Says:

    J Dean – 5 years $58M – $35M guaranteed…

    Bye SMB.

    Draft another CB in round #2.

  9. Duane Says:

    I agree with all the comments above. Silver lining is we could get a decent compensatory pick if Dean signs big somewhere else.

  10. Allbuccedup Says:

    Right now we can’t afford anyone until Licht gets rid of the minus 55 mil.

  11. lambchop Says:

    Dean plays too aggressive at times and bites on the double move. But, he definitely improved this season SMB regressed some but that could be for a lack of reps.

  12. Allbuccedup Says:

    We will sign Dean to 4 yr 60 mil, Licht will pay 1 mil for 2023 and spread the other 59 mil over the next 3 years.

  13. PewterStiffArm Says:

    Dean all the way, even though Shawn has seen some good games.

  14. Pryda sec 147 Says:

    Dean is better !

  15. Craig Says:

    Say SMB around me and that almost last play against the Rams pops up. He looked over at Kupp and blitzed, leaving Kupp free.

    I know he didn’t make the scheme, but he still has a lot to pay for.

    Let him test the market, he will probably be back, so save the franchise tag for a while and draft another CB, Christian Gonzalez would be nice.

  16. Jack Clark Says:

    All of our defensive backs are replaceable with good coaching because none of them can be trusted to not get torched in one-on-one coverage, plus none of them can be trusted to not blow assignments. We need to invest more money into our pass rushers instead of wasting more money on inconsistent defensive backs

  17. WM Says:

    They are both terrible 🤦‍♂️ We’re you guys even watching the Cowboys game

  18. SlyPirate Says:


    $50M OVER cap next year and no QB … LEAN INTO IT.

    1. 2023 – Get financially healthy. Trade vets for picks. Cut expensive role players.
    2. 2023 – Reload the trenches via the draft (OL/DL).
    3. Tank 2023
    4. 2024 – Draft QB (Caleb Williams) and key roll position (DB, LB, RB).
    5. Sign FA to fill holes

  19. Allbuccedup Says:

    With Bowles as head coach its going to be a double digit losing season so it doesn’t even matter might as well save your money.

  20. Buc1987 Says:

    Jamel Dean.

  21. Tucker Says:

    It’s not close they should prioritize signing dean despite what some fans think he is a good cornerback and should definitely let smb walk.

  22. Defense Rules Says:

    I agree with you Joe … Dean is a better CB than SMB is, especially outside. He’s also a much better tackler (Dean had a 3.4% Missed Tackle Percentage versus 13.9% for SMB, the highest on the team). However, they’re both neck-and-neck in terms of completion percentage allowed; Dean was targeted 65 times in his 15 games, allowed 36 completions for a 55.4% completion rate; SMB was targeted 41 times in his 12 games, allowed 21 completions for a 51.2% completion rate). Still, most of SMB’s were almost surely as a Nickel, whereas Dean’s were probably all outside (against the better receivers?).

    Dean though is a shutdown corner, and pairs well with Carlton Davis (who already has his big contract). Watching SMB in the Dallas game, he got eaten up (5 targets, 5 completions allowed, and 1 TD). I suspect the only reason he started over Dean is because of Dean’s toe (he’s struggled to keep up with the better receivers since that injury).

    SMB is surely more affordable as Sasquatch says, but if every game ends like the Dallas game did then saving money would be little comfort. All depends on how much Dean is willing to settle for. One thing was obvious this year … McCollum & Delaney weren’t the answer. They might both get better, but they’ve got a long ways to go to catch up to Jamel Dean, or even SMB.

  23. Allbuccedup Says:

    SMB more affordable but hes missed 13 in the last two years byebye!

  24. Redeemer Says:

    Dean Dean Dean. NFL scouts drool over his length, speed and athleticism. I think he’ll get a JC Jackson type deal on the market. If he gets the proper coaching, I believe he’s destined to be a number one, shut down type guy. I can’t imagine the bucs will pay two DBs 13+. A lot depends on what direction they choose. Is this a rebuild, or a retool.

  25. Davenport Says:

    Doesn’t matter who they keep, as long as Bowles is here this team will be an underachieving nightmare.

  26. SB~LV Says:

    We don’t want Bowles!
    We will not tolerate Bowles !
    Don’t even try that G’Boyz !

  27. J Dubb Says:

    If I was in Licht’s position, I would trade Davis and bring back both Dean and SMB. Davis is too expensive for someone with hands of stone. And to be honest, he really didn’t play all that well this year. Too many times including this playoff game Davis drops easy interceptions that I know for sure SMB would catch and Dean would most likely catch. While we at it, bring back Logan Ryan, keep Winfield at safety in nickel and find a nickel CB.

  28. J Dubb Says:

    Let Edwards walk

  29. D-Rok Says:

    Good breakdown of the 2, DR, thanks. Both seem about equal overall, but I’d always choose the better tackler. I’d pick Dean.

  30. View from 132 Says:

    If they are going to play 12 yards off and back up at the snap, I don’t think it matters. They gave the Cowboys receivers so much space it was insane.

  31. sasquatch Says:

    1) The whiners are going to have to get over the fact that Bowles is coming back.

    2) We can’t pay any big contracts before finding a way to slash more than 50 million from next year’s cap. Think that’s gonna be easy? That is going to be painful and difficult.

    3) Due to the cap crunch, keeping the moderate price free agents like Nelson and SMB is far more likely than busting the budget for Dean or top-level external free agents.

    That’s reality. And this is regardless of how much the cap increases from the Youtube deal.

  32. Cobraboy Says:

    Dean > SMB x 2

  33. Buc4evr Says:

    We won’t be able to afford Dean, so SMB and we need to draft a CB to replace SMB in a year.

  34. Conte Piscatelli Says:

    I say try to keep them both, get rid of Ryan, Neal, and anyone else we picked up for Brady’s last hurrah. Replace them with young guys with favorable contracts

  35. MadMax Says:

    Let them both go. Draft CB Cam Smith and pick up another free agent thats cheap. We’re in rebuild mode for a while anyways….

  36. Eric Says:

    If Todd Bowles is even making this a decision he is the wrong man for the job if the contract make sense it’s Dean all day and two times on Sunday!

  37. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Dean please

  38. stpetebucfan Says:

    I respect the talent of both of these players but not their ability.

    Dean played in 4 more games starting 2 more than SMB over the past five years.
    NEITHER of them have ever played a full season’s schedule.

    And so they lack that critical ability…”availABILITY”. In fact if you sign one you better sign both because they have repeatedly been called upon to back up each other due to their injuries.

    Dean’s injuries go back to college. Not sure about SMB.

    Bottom line…the Bucs have paid BIG $$$ for a shutdown CB in Davis and he fills the bill. Given all the needs I’m not sure the Bucs can afford TWO shutdown corners…Dean when he plays his best…can be inconsistent and again misses a lot of action.

    Might be time to let both walk. Because of the nature of the position and the size required to play it…DB’s..even RB’s are devalued. In order to play on the line a player has to be a literal physical freak..a HUGE human being. There are simply not that many people in the population to choose from.

    How many 6-1′ 205 guys who are really fast and athletic are their in our population compared to 6-4 275LB guys who are still athletic?

  39. Bojim Says:

    I think they’ll keep SMB

  40. Will Says:

    I think Dean is the better CB and the one we did keep but price may be an issue. SMB just has been hurt to often and it seems when he’s in there’s more confusion. CD is a press corner NO CLUE why he’s always 12yds off.

  41. Bobby M. Says:

    Our top three CBs are solid #2s. Davis would be a #2 on any other team yet we paid him like he’s shutting down half the field. This is why we’re in cap trouble and mediocre……lots of guys overpaid for slightly above avg performances.

  42. Daniel Says:

    Dean is going to be really really expensive so he’s gone.

    I’m honestly not sure I’d pay either of them. SMB lacks the elite athleticism.

  43. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Goat farmer – I don’t think it’s close. Dean is much MUCH better in my eyes than SMB

  44. David Says:


    SMB is not nearly as good in man coverage.

  45. McBucky Says:

    Hire Sean Payton.

  46. SB Says:

    Keep the longer, faster guy!

  47. Jmarkbuc Says:

    There’s only one decent player in the entire secondary.

    Let em both walk.

  48. 97 bucBaby Says:

    Sign Dean Let won’t start on anyone else’s team SMB go and trade the worst corner in the league Carlton Davis to the Rams with 2024 first rounder for Jalen Ramsey

  49. Bucfan1988 Says:

    Definitely keep Dean! Keep the Auburn boys together as our outside corners. Also, I would not resign Mike Edwards either.

    Draft a safety and corner in the draft.

  50. StickinUp4Centers Says:

    WM, were YOU watching the Dallas game?

    Dean had 0 snaps on defense. The failure to cover Cowboys’ receivers doesn’t rest on his shoulders. Well maybe it rests on his ailing toes, but that is a different argument.

  51. Rodney Says:

    I think Dean has more mental breakdowns and they will keep SMB.

  52. Jack Clark Says:

    Our team is led by a scaredy cat 😂 😂

  53. Jack Clark Says:

    “How many points do we have to be down by before you go for it on 4th down?”

    -Should be the first question anyone interviews our next HC with

  54. HC Grover Says:

    Bowlz Bucs…Pfttt won’t matter. I find it hard to care.

  55. Tony Says:

    Bring Ronde back. Sign him. He’d probably still play better.😀

  56. RagingBrisket Says:


  57. SOEbuc Says:

    Whoever is cheaper and trade Carlton Davis while people still think he has skills.

  58. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Nyet Nada Neither.

  59. bob in valrico Says:

    Bowles may have wanted to see if SMB could answer the bell. He should be concerned how SMB trails his man too often. Unfortunately he does not have the
    speed to keep up with the faster WR ‘s in the league. IMO opinion is the more physical corner with the necessary makeup speed to stay with receivers. None of our starting corners have been able to play a full season. But it is a physical game and they are not the biggest defenders on the field.

  60. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    We like both, but neither made any difference…. so….

    The “Grave Diggers” ain’t what they used to be.

  61. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    Scoring 30+ points per game, made a lotta things easier.

  62. The Beer Whisperer Says:

    I’ve gone over the defense, with a fine-tooth-comb. Finer than frog’s hair.
    And have come to realize, the offense just needs to score more points.

    This conclusion, ain’t *Rocket Science*

  63. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Yawn. Turn comments on for the Hooters ad. It would be much more interesting.

  64. Beeej Says:

    I’d prefer Dean, would be nice to have 2 shutdown corners. Can we afford that? Dunno

  65. Miller5252 Says:

    Keep ‘em both and ship Davis down the road.

  66. Cardiac kidz Says:

    Need to sign Dean. CD is the in your face shut down corner, we must have a corner to cover the leagues speedster, otherwise your safeties get manipulated and exposed. SMB is just an average corner.

  67. D-Rok Says:

    Kentucky Buc,

    Huzzah! Ura, Ura, Ura! Since you said Nyet, you just might get my reference.

  68. Bradyfan Says:

    I mean if Brady doesn’t re-sign I’d tank and try to get a top 5 pick to draft a qb. The worst thing is if you’re an 8-9, 9-8 team year after year like the cowboys were and now the pats are and end up with a Mac jones that’ll keep you 8-9, 9-8 or a 1 game playoff team for like 10 years. If you trade away some players and can get some cap room I’d also look at Lamar jackson but that is risky due to injury potential. It’s a no risk it no biscuit type of move. Try to get a 3 year deal to minimize risk. Him, cg, Mike evans would be deadly. Think 2019 Jameis Winston without the turnovers plus Lamar running for a 1000 yards. Probably won’t throw 5000 yards but probably throw like 4000. Don’t know if there’s cap space

  69. westernbuc Says:

    I doubt we’ll be able to afford Dean on his own. Guy is gonna get paid. Would love for him to stay but it’s a business

  70. ATLBuc Says:

    Sign one and tag the other. DUH! If we had to choose, I’d take Dean.

  71. IE Buc Says:

    Keep both Dean and SMB. Get rid of Carlton Davis.

  72. Cobraboy Says:

    Sign Dean and SMB, and trade Davis for some picks.

  73. ATLBuc Says:

    The better choice is Dean

  74. Oddball Says:

    Bradyfan: I’d tank and try to get a top 5 pick to draft a qb.

    Careful what you wish for. Our track record for developing QBs isn’t exactly stellar.

  75. McBucky Says:

    If Todd Bowles is the head coach, how can you not be leary of next season.

  76. Redeemer Says:

    Beer whisperer, whenever they faced a bonafide offense, they got their assez handed to. Save week one, name me a game when they shut down, or even limited a good group. Sure the offensive struggles didn’t help. but the time of possession was virtually equal the entire year. I’m tired of hearing how great this defense was. Put them in another division and they get smoked like a blunt. .

  77. Beeej Says:

    The last QB we drafted who worked out was Doug Williams…45 years ago?

  78. Bucsfan13 Says:

    @Redeemer. That’s the worst kept secret. Our defense was overrated. When they faced a capable QB, they weren’t good.

    Dak/Cooper Rush-
    PJ Walker
    Lamar Jackson
    Matt Stafford
    Jacob Brissett
    Mitch Trubisky/Kenny Pickett
    Sam Darnold
    Desmond Ridder
    Geno Smith
    Andy Dalton
    Trace McSorly
    Healthy Dak
    Brock Purdy
    Joe Burrow

    I could argue the Bucs’ offense had a higher degree of difficulty than the defense. We played some good defenses. Take that into account when judging this offense.

  79. Bradyfan Says:

    Oddball, oh didn’t know about that. You do have someone that definitely could develop qbs luckily. Probably is BA’s forte. I agree with redeemer, the most elite defenses can rush the passer with four, have a shutdown corner, know how to disguise coverages and play hybrid coverages like one side man one side zone and are fundamentally sound (minimal penalties and missed tackles, situational awareness). I feel like Carlton Davis can be a shutdown corner but he just makes mistakes at the most important times, he needs better hands, and he is a touch slow and gets burned by the speedy receivers. I feel like if he studies more and works on his technique, he can get close to being a Richard Sherman, Stephon Gilmore type corner. These two r slow corners but studied tape like crazy probably almost bradys level of tape study.

  80. Delusiaonal Intelligence Says:

    I might be delusional, but I really think there is a good chance both are resigned. I believe both will be allowed to test the market and I think outside of our own division and possibly the AFC West interest might be lukewarm at best. If both can be resigned for less than 15 million. I say it’s a no-brainer, but I don’t feel like rolling the dice on another Vernon Hargraves.

    Another likely scenario is possibly moving on from Donovan Smith’s contract. If the coaches feel Tristan can make the switch to left tackle, maybe Goedeke slides in at RT where he looked more natural or possibly a draft replacement.

  81. firethecannons Says:

    Both Dean and SMB are bad who cares? get rid of both they are not worth a new contract

  82. firethecannons Says:

    Both Dean and SMB are bad who cares? get rid of both they are not worth a new contract we have a very very bad coach nothing else matter Bucs are a very bad team 3 wins max

  83. FrontFour Says:

    Dean over SMB. And not even close.

  84. Destinjohnny Says:

    2 more marginal Jason licht draft picks

  85. Your Mom Says:

    I’m not sure it’s worth spending big $ on a cornerback. They are important, but I really feel like that money is better spent on QB, WR and Edge.

    I really wish the salary cap only applied to players you signed as free agents but not for ones you drafted.

  86. unbelievable Says:

    Dean is all around better because he’s taller and faster.

    Both are injury prone, but Dean has missed way less games.

    SMB has a few more splash plays, but I think Dean is the stronger corner overall.

    Wide receivers and just getting taller and faster every year, SMB can’t cover them.

  87. Dreambig Says:

    SMB does show up once in a while and makes some nice plays. Overall he looks like a marginal backup player, not a starter. So tired of watching him tackle a receiver on 3rd and 12 after 13 yards. How about breaking up a pass more than once every 4 games.

  88. Brandon Says:

    Dean will be getting a far bigger contract than SMB. The amount he makes will stun the blind Buc fans who didn’t think he could play. Of course those fans know more than NFL GMs, who all hold Dean in high regard. Proof that we have the dumbest fan base is apparent from their love for Fournette and constant criticism of Dean. The dude can flat out play. Easily a top 10 CB in the league.

  89. Bucamania Says:

    Dean > SMB