Enduring The Super Bowl Straitjacket

March 24th, 2023

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There they sit, 2,500 miles apart, two NFL franchises trying everything in their power to avoid using the R-word.


That’s a tough expression to say to your fan base when you’ve recently lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, so the Bucs and Rams have chosen new descriptions for their philosophies heading into 2023.

Bucs GM Jason Licht.

For Jason Licht, Tampa Bay is going through a reset. For Licht’s counterpart, Rams GM Les Snead, L.A. is embarking on a remodel.

Whatever noun you prefer, the dynamics are the same — a valiant effort to stay relevant in the present while prioritizing the future.

Both franchises went all-in within the past few years behind a veteran quarterback … now the bills have come due. When free agency began, Snead and Licht found themselves bound in a dead-cap straitjacket.

Distressing moves had to be made, including decisions that would have been deemed outrageous when the Bucs and Rams harbored serious championship aspirations.

Besides releasing Donovan Smith and Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay traded starting right guard Shaq Mason for a late-round draft pick. In their place are young, largely unproven players.

The Rams showed their colors by trading Jalen Ramsey to Miami and releasing Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd. If anyone is interested in wide receiver Allen Robinson, Snead is all ears.

On paper, the Bucs look better than the Rams, whose 5-12 record was the worst by any defending Super Bowl champion. Stafford is 35 and Aaron Donald, who turns 32 in May, has been publicly mulling retirement.

Cooper Kupp might be the best wide receiver in football, but he’s coming off surgery for a high ankle sprain. Perhaps Cam Akers, who averaged 115 rushing yards in the final three weeks, can recapture the form he flashed at FSU.

Ira Kaufman paralells the Bucs and Rams.

“We would almost have to tear it down for it to be a rebuild,” Snead says, “because we do have a lot of really good players in their prime on this roster. So a lot of times, it’s tough to say rebuilding with that type of roster, so you’d have to go through some type of teardown to truly rebuild. That’s why I use the word remodel.”

Like the Bucs, the Rams are welcoming a new offensive coordinator in Mike LaFleur. Like Todd Bowles, Sean McVay cut loose a slew of assistants.

Things have gotten so bad so fast in the City of Angels, the 37-year-old McVay thought about quitting at the end of a disastrous season, when the Rams went 1-7 on the road and averaged only 18.1 points per game, slightly less than the Bucs.

“It’s similar to when we first got here in 2017,” McVay says. “We’re excited about rolling our sleeves up, getting to work and figuring out how we can be as competitive as possible.”

Better Positioned

In Tristan Wirfs, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Vita Vea, Antoine Winfield Jr., Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay has a better corps of difference makers in their prime. Lavonte David remains a quality player and Devin White has shown flashes of brilliance.

The Rams can’t match that group and now L.A. must proceed without a first-round draft choice. The Lions will pick at No. 6 instead of the Rams as part of the haul for trading Stafford two years ago.

The Rams succeeded the Bucs as Super Bowl champions and now both franchises have lowered their sights. Neither is considered a legitimate championship contender at the moment as Licht and Snead maneuver for maximum financial flexibility and draft capital.

Remodel or reset — what’s in a name? Let’s call it like it is.

The Bucs and Rams each looked in the mirror and decided on a facelift.

Let’s see how things look when the bandages come off.

10 Responses to “Enduring The Super Bowl Straitjacket”

  1. Bojim Says:

    One more chance for White?

  2. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I like it that we are getting much younger……will be interested in seeing the age comparison from 2022 to 2023.

    Brady, Mason, D Smith, Julio, Brate, Rudolph, Bernard, Succop, Hicks, Gholston, Ryan

    all gone……all older players.

  3. miken Says:

    The Rams got rid of some really good players. We got rid of average players that cost more than they were worth.

  4. gotbbucs Says:

    Myself, I enjoy watching young players develop much more than watching old players decline. I think almost everybody probably agrees with that sentiment. You always need a mix of veteran leadership, but when that pendulum swings to the point where there are as many or more veteran players on the team compared to young developing players, it’s impossible to think about the future. It’s a delicate balancing act. Young players represent hope for the future, and a younger team sometimes softens the sting of loses on gameday.
    Young players developing represents a “what could be” mindset on the backside. This is why last year’s team felt so hopeless. We all new the wheels were falling off and it felt like there was no future to look forward to. Brady and the old guys he brought with him started feeling like dead weight.
    I’m more excited for “what could be” heading into this next season than I was for getting ready to watch the exact same team, only another year older, heading into last season.
    Embrace the unknown.

  5. garro Says:

    Really Ira?…Flashes of brilliance? Not at all the descriptive words I would use…

  6. Diverdo Says:

    Ira, always has good, Inciteful, and well thought out comments. I agree with you mostly, but do not count out Baker Mayfield. He has a lot of accomplishments on the plus side. Looking at the “glass is half full” side, he was a #1 pick. And he knows Mike Evans.

  7. Mike Johnson Says:

    Anybody who has been a student of the MFL game knew this was coming. We enjoyed 3..well 2 good yrs with Brady. We have our superbowl for the decade. Another one will not come around soon. There are simply to many teams on the come up. Its their turn now. We can still be competitive. But to sit here and be delusional about our chances is truly crazy. If we are lucky, we will field a respectable team that competes.

  8. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    It seems there are two approaches to building a Super Bowl team. One approach is to go all in, swing for the fences, and hope to hit a home run. The Bucs did that in 2002 and 2020 in different ways, but the results were similar. In both cases, the Bucs won a Super Bowl at the expense of the future. The second approach focuses on long term consistency. Kansas City is the most recent example, but other teams that have followed the model include New England, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Green Bay. What’s common to all those teams: A franchise quarterback! If you don’t have a quarterback, you are sporadically chasing Super Bowls as you build for that one moment, but the moment fades as quickly as it appears. I would prefer a more sustainable model and hope that some day the
    Bucs find a franchise quarter back can give the team 15 years of stability, winning, and a couple of Super Bowls along the way. I appreciate that the Bucs have won with the “one and done” approach, but let’s try something new next time.

  9. Who Says Says Can't Say Says:

    I’m not as negative on the Bucs this year as many. If Mayfield can show he deserved to be picked #1 overall, or Trask shows he’s more than Trent Dilfer 2.0, there is still a lot of playmakers on this team.

    That’s the nice part of the modern NFL is that you can never truly write any team off. Last year at this time, who would have bet on Jacksonville to do anything?

  10. Brazen Zebra Says:

    The new nickname for the team?—the Shake & Bake Bucs! I hope Baker plays up to his potential, and I hope the nickname, or something similar, sticks until the Bucs make the playoffs in early 2024. Just being in the discussion late in the season for a spot in the Super Bowl is enough for most fans. I like reset over rebuild. This Bucs reset make work out just fine.