Playmaker Anthony Nelson

February 16th, 2023

Barring a completing gutting of the Tampa Bay roster, the Bucs will have to have to re-sign at least a few of their productive free agents.

One guy already was called out by head coach/defensive playcaller Todd Bowles as a guy he wants to return.

That would be edge rusher/outside linebacker Anthony Nelson, the Bucs’ fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

And why wouldn’t Bowles want Nelson back? He developed Nelson, who has proven to be durable and is possibly the best healthy pass rusher the Bucs have.

With Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett healing a torn Achilles, an injury that could last well into the fall, Nelson would be a tough piece to lose. He’s solid against the run and finished last season with 5 1/2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. That’s more production than Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in about 200 fewer snaps, and JTS is shaky in run defense.

Veteran defensive lineman Will Gholston is another pending Bucs free agent. He was on WDAE radio last week lauding Nelson as a playmaker.

Gholston and Nelson have been working out together this offseason, Gholston said, and Gholston said he’s been reflecting recently on how it seemed Nelson made a play every week after Shaq went down injured in October.

Another Bucs pending free agent edge rusher, Carl Nassib, also was a Bucs free agent after the 2019 season. Nassib got a three-year, $25 million deal from the Raiders in March of 2020. Joe thinks Nassib of 2019 and Nelson of 2022 were similar players.

Would Nelson, who turns 26 next month, command in free agency what Nassib did three years ago, around 8 million per year?

Joe doubts Nelson would get that much on the open market, but Joe could see Nelson finding offers for $6 million-plus year.

With the Bucs now strangled by the salary cap, it’s hard to imagine Nelson getting paid by Tampa Bay. But with Shaq wounded and Tryon-Shoyinka looking average at best, Joe imagines Bowles will be standing on Jason Licht’s desk demanding Nelson gets a new deal.

33 Responses to “Playmaker Anthony Nelson”

  1. sasquatch Says:

    Well, he’s one of the guys they need to make space to re-sign. We can’t just let everyone walk out the door to save cap. I’d argue signing Nelson + SMB, is a cheaper, better option than just signing Dean, for example.

  2. MadMax Says:

    He’s a keeper, but i hope he’s friendly with the cost…

  3. Redeemer Says:

    I like nelson. One of the few guys that maximized his snap count. Most of these guys run for the dollars though. Can’t blame him. if someone overpays and he bolts, good for him

  4. Smashsquatch Says:

    Nelson was a liability against the Cowboys, let somebody else overpay much like the Raiders did with Nassib.

  5. AL121976 Says:

    I had a feeling Tryon wasn’t a good pick when prior to the draft Mark Dominik said he would select him

  6. Dooley Says:

    Gotta keep Nelly with what he’s done covering for injured starters the last two years, and how well he plays the run and can get after the QB or at the least push the pocket. Especially if Shaq will still be rehabbing throughout the spring and into the summer.

  7. sasquatch Says:

    With or without Nelson, we gotta draft an outside rusher. With Shaq’s injury and age plus JTS not having made the jump yet, we have questions. No doubt this will be a priority for Bowles and the front office.

  8. WiscoJoe Says:

    I know JTS has struggled but guys make big leaps in year 3 as well. Rashan Gary went from 2 to 5 to 9.5 sacks. Haason Reddick didn’t fully blossom til year 4 and our very own Shaq Barrett took a while as well. Unless you have a future hall of fame guy like the Watts it might be a while. I still have faith in JTS.

  9. Mike S Says:

    I like Nelson, but he’s a backup. When he was thrust into the starter’s role the pass rush vanished. Its probably a better idea to move Logan Hall outside and draft another DT.

  10. SlyPirate Says:

    I like Nelson as a rotational guy. I’d keep him at the right price.

  11. HC Grover Says:

    Get them out trade for picks if can. Cut Plan 9. We need draft picks .

  12. Tony1775 Says:

    JTS is a bust

  13. Goatfarmer Says:

    Nelson good.

    Bowels bad.

  14. Pickgrin Says:

    The Raiders over paid for Nassib.

    $1M per sack the previous year is a reasonable estimate these days of a pass rusher’s worth. So in Nelson’s case – 5 1/2 sacks = $5-$6M per year

  15. Caleb Says:

    This is why advanced stats actually matter. Per Pff, Nelson had only 14 pressures in 283 pass rush stats. Less than a 5% win rate. Despite this he was able to get 6 sacks on those pressures, an absurd rate of 43%. The point is that is just not sustainable. In fact one of those sacks and fumbles forced against the cardinals he was left completely unblocked. He just can’t win one on one against o lineman constant enough. I would look to upgrade and pass on resigning him.

  16. sasquatch Says:

    There’s an upper end to what they will want to pay, and it’s not high. He’s not the answer to the pass rush but he’s a solid reliable player you like to have on your team.

  17. BucsfanFred Says:

    We really need Nelson. Six mil sounds reasonable or even a bit more. If we don’t resign him we’re getting awfully close to giving up on the season before it starts. Well, unless Shaq makes a comeback.

  18. BucsfanFred Says:

    He’s not the answer to the pass rush, but he’s not quite terrible either.

  19. BrianBucs Says:

    Nelson is a really solid player who goes hard on every play and makes an impact play every game.
    Gotta have guys like Nelson

  20. BigMacAttack Says:

    Draft a left tackle and save 16 mill, cut Gabbert there’s another 5 or so. Hicks isn’t worth 10, bye. Brate gone. I love Lenny but he can get on a good team right now so bye. Cut that other garbage tight end never made the field never heard of her. Trade Vita Vea for a 1&3 pick. Trade Devin White. Keep Lavonte. And Bye Julio.

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    I know he makes a play here or there, but there also doesn’t seem to be anything special about. $8m for a JAG (just a guy) seems like a bit much for a team counting every penny. They can make it happen, but I’m not sure they should.

    But at the same time, you’re right, they need to keep somebody if they’re not #TankingWithTrask — but personally, I’d just go full tank.

    However, if you think you can sign him to a cheap deal and then flip him during the season for like a 4th rounder or something after you start out 1-5, then go ahead.

  22. Rod Munch Says:

    BigMacAttack – Cutting Smith doesn’t save you $16m, it saves you $10m and but gives you an $8m dead cap space. Also the Bucs might be able to trade him and not have to cut him.

    Gabbert isn’t under contract, so you’re saving $0.

    Hicks isn’t under contract, so you’re saving $0. But the use of VOID years means he’s a $5m cap hit.

    Cutting Brate, which they should have done years ago, saves you $2m.

    Cutting Lenny saves you $3.5m, but with a $5m dead cap space.

    The other TE, Rudolph, isn’t under contract, so that saves you $0.

    Julio isn’t under contract, so that saves you $0, but the use of VOID years means he’s a $3.5m cap hit.

    While I’m not as high on Vita as others are, if you did trade him, you had better get more than a 1st and 3rd, unless that 1st is near the top of the draft.

    Trading White would be incredibly stupid, you don’t trade away one of the best interior pass rushers in the game unless you’re blowing up everything, in which case you also trade away Wirfs and Winfield and Godwin and Evans.

    As for David, because of VOID years he’s already a $7m cap hit even before you sign something. I believe they can redo the void year only if he resigns, so they could bring him back and push the big cap hit until 2024 or later, but why bother if you’re blowing up the team anyways?

  23. Power of Pewter Says:

    Trading/cutting Donovan Smith only saves $10 million, not 16. Gabbert is already a free agent. Bucs won’t/can’t afford to sign him as a backup, and if he is signed as a starter, he’ll want a starters money. He’s not coming back. If Vea is traded (very unlikely to get a 1st RD for him) , Bucs will have to replace all three DL starters… unlikely to happen in the draft, and Bucs can’t afford to go shopping in free agency.
    Salary Cap cuts will be:
    Smith, Succup, Brate, Rudolph, Fournette, Gage. Several veteran salaries will have to be re-worked: Evans, Godwin, Vea, and probably Shaq.
    Bucs will be able to resign a few of their free agents, but it will have to be with back-loaded multi-year deals with a couple voidable years tacked on. IOW, Licht is going to keep kicking the can down the road. Will need several stelae drafts in a row to get younger, cheaper, and better… and TBH Licht hasn’t shown that he can have repeated strong drafts. That’s why he’s paying too $ on FA market until now.

  24. firethecannons Says:

    too bad JTS flamed out too bad they gave Shaq Barret such a pricey contract with no way out this team is doomed

  25. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Pickin

    $1 million per sack?

    Sweet! That means Shaq Barrett owes us 21.5 sacks next season…


  26. mg Says:

    Can he block?

  27. Defense Rules Says:

    Power of Pewter … Our 1st priority has to be to clear at least $55.7 mil from our salary CAP, just to get back to ZERO. That all by itself is a daunting task. Folks forget that players don’t have to restructure their contract, and if they do it usually ends up working in their favor (usually as in close to 100% of the time?).

    For instance, Shaq’s 1 player I’d move on from, as soon as it’s financially viable. His CAP Hit this year is scheduled to be $23.2 mil, with a Dead CAP of $21.7 mil. It’d be really dumb to move on from him this year at those numbers, even though he’s 31 years old & coming off a major injury. Next year’s almost as bad unfortunately; his CAP Hit is scheduled to be $23.7 mil and his Dead CAP is $16.4 mil. He’s a FA after that (at age 32), but we’d still owe him over $12 mil in Void $$$. Whoopee. IOW, we’d better all pray that Shaq recovers back to 100% quickly because he’s here for 2 more years.

    Respectfully disagree on Gabbert. He’ll be back and probably for around the $2.3 mil that he made this past year … with incentives if he gets named the starter. Don’t forget, he was out of football in 2019 until BA snatched him up in 2020-2022. Not in high demand.

    I think that DLine will be our biggest problem. This’ll be unpopular, but I think our best option (and least expensive) will be to re-sign Hicks, only at a reduced salary with incentives, because we owe him $4.9 mil for the Void year (and we can rework that to 2024 IF we re-sign him(. Also re-sign Gholston for the same reason (we owe him $2.4 mil for the Void year & could also rework that if we re-signed him). Then all we have to do is draft 1 DT high this Spring to pair with Vea in 2024 & beyond.

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Forgot to mention RNR for our DLine. He gave us 17 games last year & started 10. His 2 sacks, 4 pressures & 5 TFLs are nothing to write home about for 548 snaps, but his 51% availability is better than what Vea & Hicks gave us. His 2-year contract was for $5.0 mil ($2.5 mil average per year), which isn’t bad for that availability.

  29. unbelievable Says:

    We need a real, every down, pass rusher. Someone that opposing offenses actually have to game plan for.

    Sadly, there is no one on our roster that fits that description.

  30. FortMyersDave Says:

    Anthony Nelson >>>>> than JTS. JTS is sadly a bust and has not shown much yet. Nelson is a gamer.

    Back to JTS, seems like LIcht has had issues drafting late 1st and early second round as JTS (pick #32) is a bust and last year’s #33 pic (a trade down from #27 by Licht, passing by several players to get a 4th and a 6th) Logan Hall only contributed to the team by taking out Jensen in the preseason at the start of training camp, effectively destroying the OL. Thanks Logan /S!

  31. Patrickbucs Says:

    unbelievable Says:
    February 16th, 2023 at 8:55 pm
    We need a real, every down, pass rusher. Someone that opposing offenses actually have to game plan for.

    Sadly, there is no one on our roster that fits that description.

    How many teams actually have one? SB wasn’t? How many of those feared annual pass rushers ever stay healthy? Agreeing with you, just saying almost everyone needs 1.

  32. Pickgrin Says:

    $1M per sack as a generalized guideline for pass rushers only applies to single digit sack guys.

    Double digit sacks or close to it gets you more than $1M per – especially if you have done it in more than 1 previous season.

    Shaq Barrett’s very high cap hit the next 2 years is partially because the Bucs re-worked his deal and pushed a bunch of his ‘official” compensation to the future – and wrote Shaq a big up front “bonus” check. Part of the “all in for Brady” situation.

    Same with Mike Evans I believe.

    Shaq’s original big contract averaged like $17M per I think.

    Sucks that Barrett got severely injured – but thats part of the risk that’s inherent in this game…. I hope he recovers quickly and can help this team at some point in 2023. With a $23M cap hit that there’s no getting out of – we better all hope so……

  33. Goatfarmer Says:

    It will be awesome watching Blowes realize his best chance for a 10 win season was the last one, when he had players and Tom Brady.

    Now he’s gonna have new scrubs, a few decent players who I’d be shocked if they didn’t ask to be traded, and some old scrubs signed for vet minimums.

    For a coich who has proven a paper bag exit is a difficult assignment, better view it as comedy. And keep away from sharp objects.

    This is so fun.

    Thanks, Todd!