False Hope?

August 27th, 2023

Bucs coach Todd Bowles.

It didn’t take long after Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht announced on WFLA-TV Channel 8 during the third quarter of last night’s Crows-Bucs broadcast that center Ryan Jensen’s season is over and he’s going on injured reserve.

The conspiracy theories began sprouting on social media.

Jensen’s rehab from his destroyed knee suffered in July 2022 wasn’t responding as the team hoped.

(Remember, Joe was the first to report Jensen would not play Week 1 and is likely done for the year. Just like Joe — specifically Ira Kaufman — was the first to report Baker Mayfield would be your Bucs starting quarterback. Just like Joe was the first to report Bruce Arians would be hired as Bucs coach and that the Ravens put a contract in front of Mayfield before he signed with the Bucs. Face it haters, Joe breaks stories, too. Deal with it.)

Minutes after Licht spoke the conspiracy theorists began working overtime.

The Bucs knew Jensen wouldn’t be able to play, they were conning people.

Why didn’t they sign a center?

Why didn’t they draft a center?

The Bucs got caught with their pants down.

The Bucs got burned again by hope.

You know the drill.

In a moment of refreshing candor this morning, Bucs coach Todd Bowles said the Bucs’ medical staff warned team shot-callers that despite Jensen playing in the wild card game last winter, his return for 2023 was anything but certain.

“We had optimism, but the medical staff always warned us that it would be touch-and-go from that standpoint,” Bowles said.

Bowles also flatly denied the Bucs got caught up in false hope with Jensen.

“We weren’t too high or too low from that standpoint,” Bowles said. “Because they always warned us that it can go the other way.”

Of course, this won’t quiet Bucs fans who will scream (with some merit) that the team didn’t plan for Jensen being unable to answer the bell. This is the angle Joe is confident fans who don’t like Robert Hainsey will use.

However, after talking to many Bucs suits, offensive coaches and players last year, Joe can report the view inside the walls of One Buc Palace on Hainsey is nearly polar opposite of the way many fans view Hainsey.

So Bowles’ admission that the team was warned by medical staff that Jensen’s return was uncertain, and the fact the Bucs did not draft or sign a center, that tells Joe the team is confident in Hainsey taking over.

As Mayfield said last night of Hainsey, at least he has 17 games starting in the league under his belt and it’s not like he’s being thrown into the fire without ever being battle-tested.

68 Responses to “False Hope?”

  1. go dawgs Says:

    wow, interesting.. i know a guy, that knows a guy, that knows a girl whos cousin knows a trainer with the bucs?

  2. Vegasbuccaneer Says:

    So you know someone

  3. captivajim Says:

    Licht has Refused consistantly since Jensen got hurt in July of ’22 to not trade for a Proven NFL center–and of course bowleszo agreed with him .. they both will be gone after this season –hopefully

  4. Adam’s Angry Says:

    This is not the first injury the Bucs have mismanaged. Carl Nicks, Lawrence Tynes, Jensen…. Alvin Harper almost had his finger cut off. I swear Advent Health would be smart not to associate anything “medical” with this bunch of quacks.

    But kudos to the Joes for literally becoming literally the only source for non-speculative Bucs news in the TB Area. 👍🏼

  5. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    Hainsey isn’t a bad player. I guess we will see how this works out. Hainsey has a bunch of starts already. Its not like he’s an unknown. He has a veteran left guard and a rookie right guard. If Hainsey had a veteran guard on each side of him I would feel better. Not sure how Hainsey fits into a zone blocking schene. Zone blocking schemes need athletic lineman who can pull or get to the next level and block a linebacker. Zone blocking also uses double teams to open holes. So they don’t need to be the biggest guys around.

    It would seem Jensen’s return was overly optimistic.

  6. Marine Buc Says:

    I still believe it was a mistake for Jensen to return just to play in that blowout loss to Dallas last season.

    It makes absolutely zero sense to me that Jensen was able to play that entire game but was unable to practice fully after 7 additional months of rehab and rest?

    Something happened while playing against Dallas and we will probably never know the truth…

  7. sasquatch Says:

    captivajim Says:
    August 27th, 2023 at 1:52 pm

    Licht has Refused consistantly since Jensen got hurt in July of ’22 to not trade for a Proven NFL center–and of course bowleszo agreed with him .. they both will be gone after this season –hopefully

    Stupid. Maybe you should be gone after this season –hopefully

    Cuz, ya know, trading for players to plug right in is just that easy, right… Jeez.

    But, but, but, why didn’t they draft one then? The refrain from every idiot who doesn’t recognize that we already have a center that we drafted to be a starting center when Jensen was done. His name is Robert Hainsey.

  8. Marine Buc Says:

    Cody Mauch will probably be our starting Center in 2024…

  9. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Maybe Bucs are bright enough to grab a veteran Olineman after cuts to 53 , but maybe not , seems pretty reckless to put all the eggs in one basket and not have a plan in place for the all important Center position if worse comes to worse.

  10. PewterStiffArm Says:

    If the brain trust is o.k. with Hainsey, so am I. Besides Leverett there should be someone else that should be a hybrid. Jason has proven that he can handle difficult situations on the line. They can also evaluate and sign someone being released from another team. Everyone waiting, in Licht we trust.

  11. TonySoprano Says:

    Hainsey is pretty decent against the pass. He’s mobile and mirrors well. It’s in the run game where he is absolutely below average. He doesn’t open holes for the backs and gets manhandled by nose tackles. And if the Bucs truly want the identity of a hard-nosed, tough running team, Hainsey doesn’t seem like the ideal centerpiece of this line.

  12. Craig Says:

    With such good support on either side Hainsey will have a good year.

    He seemed to have more push in the running game than we saw last season, and that can only be good.

  13. westernbuc Says:

    Hainsey isn’t bad. He’s no Jensen but so what? This team had too many holes to address and not enough cap room. The team had to work with what they had and it appears they built a serviceable roster. If we suck then so what? Everyone expects us to be garbage.

  14. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    captivajim Says:
    August 27th, 2023 at 1:52 pm
    Licht has Refused consistantly since Jensen got hurt in July of ’22 to not trade for a Proven NFL center–and of course bowleszo agreed with him .. they both will be gone after this season –hopefully
    Maybe Licht refused to trade for a proven NFL center because he already has one?

    Given that JL has a track record of building great o-lines, including one that could protect the most immobile QB in the NFL, I will trust him going forward rather then some armchair GM’s posting here in the comment section.

    For someone to wish that JL and Bowles will be gone after this season, two years after JL built a team that won the Super Bowl and Bowles prepared a defense that held Patrick Mahomes, one of the greatest QB’s in our generation, to zero TD’s would make me reluctant to hire you on the staff of any football team.

  15. PbnJ Says:

    The Buc decision makers haven’t given Hainsey any ammunition to win with fans. It was an obvious sign the staff lacked confidence in him when Jensen played with the injury against Dallas. Now it is clear that injury is career threatening. We’re supposed to believe in Hainsey after that?

    Hainsey is supposed to believe in Hainsey knowing this?

    Which was the more problematic decision, playing Jensen vs Dallas or running it back with the same cast 8 months later?

  16. Slacker Says:

    Jensen was never going to play. Nothing shocking with this news

  17. PbnJ Says:

    BTW – I’m firmly in the wait and see crowd. Improved play at Guard could make it a lot easier for Hainsey. I’m asking what I think are obvious question in above comment.

  18. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    captivajim Says
    “Licht has Refused consistantly since Jensen got hurt in July of ’22 to not trade for a Proven NFL center–and of course bowleszo agreed with him .. they both will be gone after this season –hopefully”

    Jason Licht knows how to build an offensive line. You neglect to consider that the budget isn’t there to hired a quality veteran yet.

    If Hainsey does not work out, Licht will address it next year, when he has money to work with. You can bet he’s got a couple of targets in mind already.

  19. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I have nothing against Hainsey. He’s entering what? His 3rd season?

    This is the year he needs to step up, but he’s got his three years so far as I’m concerned.

    Unlike Baker Mayfield, he is entering his 7th year and has only had on good season…years ago.

  20. Lt. Dan Says:

    @JeffreyLane77: If I recall accurately – Hainsey’s calling card is his smarts and athleticism.

  21. Fishhawkbuc Says:

    Two words: guaranteed money. I ant blame the dude.

  22. HC Grover Says:

    it is what it is.

  23. stpetebucfan Says:

    Rodney Dangerfield coulda been a starter for the Bucs Offensive Line.

    Talk about no respect! Hainsey is entering his THIRD year! He was drafted as a tackle and then thrown into the fire on VERY short notice at Center when Jensen went down. Hainsey responded by starting 17 games at his new position and playing the most number of snaps of any Bucs OL. He was steady and steadily improving.

    Hainsey is a smart player which will be an asset at Center calling blocking alignments if he grows into that.

    The left side of the OL looks beastly, Hainsey can hold up his end, Mauch will replace Jensens “tenacity” and Goeddeke seems to have adjusted well. This OL could be sneaky good! Rodney Dangerfields or not!

  24. Bobby M. Says:

    More concerned with the RG/RT….An offensive line can mask one weak link, but two side by side could be difficult to hide.

  25. B Says:

    (You guys would go a lot further toward being considered “legitimate” sports media if you’d stop pointing out/calling back everything you do as sports media. I’m not being snarky- you are the go to for me and a LOT of people. You don’t have do it, Joe. You are good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it people like you. P.S. can we please get Ira a phone constructed in this millennium to utilize during your fantastic podcast?)
    My conspiracy theory is pragmatic: Jensen going down is, right or wrong, perceived as the leak that sank the boat last season by the fans. They delayed the inevitable announcement of what they long knew to be true for as long as possible for ticket sales.

  26. Bubby Says:

    I called Tom Brady to the Bucs not once, but twice. You guys called heisman trophy winner and first round pick to start over a project qb. Golf clap.

  27. Steve in Mad Beach Says:

    Given that the Joe’s were reporting prior to the combine that the Bucs brass was really high on Hainsey, the fact that at the beginning of training camp, they announced the starting guards and didn’t mention that Hainsey would be competing for one of those spots was telling for me.

    Turns out, they were smart to keep him focused on the center position. I’ve got faith in JL. Come on Bob, get out there and dominate kid!

  28. Duane Says:

    Most of us understood that this was a likely outcome. Many have factored this in how they look at Hainsey’s play. We do not have the insight Team Glazer does, but I dont think seeing Hainsey picking himself up off the ground from his backside is a good look at the end of the play. I have become more accustomed to seeing Jensen cleaning up the melees.

  29. Beej Says:

    What are the odds of either drafting or signing an FA who’s better than Hainsey? (AND, someone who will work for $163.35 THIS year, and get their real compensation NEXT year?)

  30. Joe in Michigan Says:

    A little Q & A:

    Q) Is there still time for the Bucs to find a backup Center?
    A) Yes, cuts are coming, and there’s bound to be an AQ Shipley-type out there.

    Q) Should Bucs fans be wringing their hands, worrying about if Baker Mayfield will be good, or not?
    A) No, worrying isn’t going to solve anything. Either he’ll be good/decent, or he’ll get replaced. What’s to worry about?

    Q) Will the Bucs season be ruined by Hainsey being the starting Center?
    A) They made the playoffs last year with Hainsey as the starting Center. Canales seems to be a competent OC, so the Bucs should already be miles ahead of what went down last year.

  31. ScottyMack Says:

    You people make me laugh. Who was the stellar talent at Center the Bucs should have drafted and would they not have picked up in the draft if they had done that?

    After starting all 17 regular season games last season, Hainsey graded out better than more than half the centers in the league (PFF had him at #12). Sure, he’s no top 3 center (at least at the moment) but good Lord, how in the world could Licht have improved on that via the draft or even free agency? Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see anyone sign a free agent center this offseason that was better than Hainsey and there are none sitting out there in free agent limbo that are any better, either.

  32. K2 Says:

    The Bucs didn’t have enough cash to fix all their problems. I think they did a great job identifying young players that will help the team. They have no illusions of being Super Bowl contenders this year. So, why panic over Hainsey playing another year at center?

  33. Bucsfanman Says:

    Not good news, to be sure. However, it’s not as bad as it seems. Hainsey is fine. The Bucs also have Leverett and Stinnie who have both played meaningful snaps.
    Truth is that we don’t know what we have yet with Mauch and Goedeke. They played better each game they played.
    I wish it was Jensen starting but, this is the NFL.

    Get well soon Ryan.

  34. Joshua porter Says:

    Just curious what center you think they should have drafted?

  35. Fansince76 Says:

    It really sucks Jensen is gone, he had great play and attitude but Hainsey will be fine. He is a serviceable center who sometimes does not get push in the run game but most of the time gets the job done.

  36. Rayjay1122 Says:

    I think we are going to be fine with Hainsey. Based on what I have witnessed so far from the new offense and at how good some of the rookies are looking, I think winning the NFC South is not a stretch at all. Much better football team than last season. Canales is the man!!!

  37. Pewter Power Says:

    Hainsey will be fine he was a full time starter last year. Can’t keep trading for for players every time something like this happens.

    Didn’t sign or trade anyone last year with Brady as the quarterback, they shouldn’t do it this year but behind him is trash so they should definitely should hit that waiver wire

  38. Nicholas Carlson Says:

    I remember someone shouting at me in Twitter that Mauch will be a center. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I heard he’s too tall for that

  39. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Joe

    I see the Bucs cut Cade Warner today.

    Maybe he comes back on the practice squad?

  40. Marine Buc Says:

    * Kade Warner

  41. Defense Rules Says:

    False Hope? Is that the same as ‘We were hoping that our 32-year-old Pro Bowl center who blew out his knee last year could give us a couple more years, but alas, we were wrong’? Well, sometimes hope works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

    Bucs signed Ryan to a $39 mil, 3-year contract on 13 Mar 2022. This past Mar that was restructured & we converted $11.33M of that 2023 salary into signing bonus, adding one void year, clearing $9.068M of cap with Tampa Bay (TB). Translation? We kicked the can down the street, because we had to so we could add several other players.

    Per a report out today by Adam La Rose in Pro Football Rumors, “That leaves the team on the hook for a cap hit of $17.2MM next year and $11.8MM in 2024, which is a void year.”

    I have no idea whether those numbers are valid or not (and I’m assuming that he meant 2025 not 2024). In any case, PERHAPS the Bucs’ HOPE had a certain amount of fiscal underpinnings? Putting him on IR prior to June 1st apparently would’ve had even worse salary CAP implications. And putting big dollar guys (like Jensen & Shaq) on IR must be a really tough decision for any team. And for anyone wondering why Hainsey is now ‘the guy’, it’s simple … we can’t afford anyone better. HOPEFULLY Hainsey rises to the occasion this year & secures the Center position for years to come.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … Perhaps you’ve seen this; perhaps not. Great article on ‘The 33rd Team’ by Jamie Kelly titled ‘The Impact of Dead Cap and Injuries on NFL Success’. (Here’s the link for you to be edited out …

    [Remember, URLs are not allowed. — Joe]

    Their study showed a clear correlation between W/L% and the amount of Lost Cap a team incurs. Not just clear, but VERY CLEAR. Bucs had done fantastic through 2021 (considered in the Top-5 better-managed teams), but it fell off a cliff obviously in 2022 and even more this year. Got me wondering if BA read that article, saw what was coming, and pulled the ejection handle right afterwards. Wouldn’t blame him.

    There’s also a link in that article to another study, this one by Joe Banner back in Apr 2022 titled ‘Is the Salary CAP Real’? Well worth reading (and very convincing).

  43. firethecannons Says:

    Joe says this :::(Remember, Joe was the first to report Jensen was likely done for the year. Just like Joe — specifically Ira Kaufman — was the first to report Baker Mayfield would be your Bucs starting quarterback. Just like Joe was the first to report Bruce Arians would be hired as Bucs coach. Face it haters, Joe breaks stories, too. Deal with it.) yeaah, good, I agree, will listen better

  44. Cobraboy Says:

    The Hopium harvest is ripest this time of year…

  45. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Nic

    The same thing happened with Marpet.

    Started at RG.

    Moved to Center – which didn’t work out too well.

    Then moved to LG – All-Pro…

    I agree – Mauch is a little tall for Center but he has the athletic ability to pull it off.

  46. firethecannons Says:

    I said this last night and I believe it now and agree with Joe on this post. my post last night: Thx joe, I feel frustrated, sorry not your fault of course, Jensen is obviously delicate it just seems like this position could of been addressed but it would be my guess that they are satisfied with Hainsey even though we are not.

  47. D-Rok Says:

    Just saw on other Bucs site that today Bowles named Izien the starting nickle corner. Interesting.

  48. Joe Says:

    sorry not your fault of course

    No harm; no foul, man! 🙂

  49. ScottyMack Says:

    @Defense Rules

    I’m certainly no salary cap expert but I believe that the money paid to him as a signing bonus gets spread out through the rest of his contract (including the void year depending if the Bucs want to kick it down the road another year or eat it all when he retires a la Tom Brady).

    They would not be on the hook for his entire contract amount unless it was 100% guaranteed. They would only have to eat the signing bonus portion of it in future years, part of which got applied to this year and the rest spread out over the next two years.

    At least, that’s how I understand it. Somebody correct me if they know for a fact that I am wrong.

  50. ScottyMack Says:

    Spotrac shows Jensen’s dead cap hit as $16.5 million in 2024, $11.8 million in 2025 and $2.5 million in 2026.

  51. Marine Buc Says:

    @ Scotty

    You are correct.

    But – if Jensen is done and retires or the Bucs cut him all the guaranteed money becomes due and all void years are cancelled.

    So – the Bucs will owe Jensen another $16.5M which will become dead cap space in 2024.

    There is a chance Jensen is able to return next season but I don’t think that is very realistic at this point.

  52. ScottyMack Says:

    $26,500,000 of Jensen’s $39 million contract was guaranteed.

  53. ScottyMack Says:

    In other words, losing Jensen, the football player, is not actually the worst part. Losing the cap money to a ghost is the real tragedy, as harsh as that may sound.

  54. Tony Says:

    There’s plenty of guys in the seats at Raymond James they can sign that are more than capable of replacing Jensen. Just bring a bunch of them in for a tryout & they won’t cost as much either.

  55. steele Says:

    Thanks to Logan Hall, nice job dude, this OL’s tone setter and enforcer will never return. Which didn’t bother OneBuc or Bowles, who planned to dump him anyway for golden boy Hainsey. The annointed one for years. What you saw last season was abundantly clear: soft, finesse, “technical” but missing in all the things Jensen brought, that fortified and led the entire OL. No, they didn’t bother to bring in a veteran C with the qualities that could fill properly for Jensen’s absence.

    In-house JAGs was the plan (and Brady’s bruises knew it), and remains so, all the way to the bottom, when the total rebuild will have to take place.

    Who is reliable besides Wirfs? Feiler, okay. That’s about it. Please don’t jump in with the “Leverett isn’t bad” stuff. Dude was awful, literally groaned and fell into a heap countless times. Can he and Hainsey improve? Sure. But it has been a long time…and the level hasn’t raised much.

    Good luck to Mayfield, who had better be awfully “mobile”, because he will be running for his life, ducking, ducking. Be glad you don’t have Jimmy Jittery Garoppolo back there.

  56. mark2001 Says:

    A guy that age…. that big… with the injury he had last year… just hoping that time will heal it well enough to play NFL football on it an entire season? It seems like more than wishful thinking… seemed like a hope and a prayer.

  57. Defense Rules Says:

    Marine Buc & ScottyMack … The salary CAP treatment of IR players (especially those who are VERY well paid) seems very harsh to me, but it does treat all teams equally. I’m guessing that’s why they waited until after June 1st to put Ryan on IR, and why they prefer him being on IR rather than flat-out retiring like Brady did. As long as he’s on IR, we don’t have to eat the whole enchilada in a single year.

    Personally wish that the NFL allowed some offset (say 50%) of the CAP impact for players on long-term IR. If you lose a highly-paid player (like say a franchise QB) you’re pretty much screwed for a couple years at least. A high percentage of your salary CAP just went bye-bye, obviously impacting how competitive you can be while your taking that player’s hit.

  58. Defense Rules Says:

    Steele … ‘Which didn’t bother OneBuc or Bowles, who planned to dump him anyway for golden boy Hainsey.’

    I can’t see how that could possibly be true Steele. Ryan Jensen’s guaranteed money ran through 2 years (2022 & 2023) so they weren’t gonna cut him in that time. And I believe the original intent was for Hainsey to play Guard, not Center. They had him cross-train at Center as a backup to Ryan, but there was a lot of talk about drafting a Center last year to ultimately replace Jensen.

    Not to mention that at the start of last season, there’s a good chance that DC (newly appointed HC) Todd Bowles didn’t even know who was who on the offense, much less consider Robert Hainsey to be a ‘golden boy’.

  59. D-Rok Says:


    I’ve always felt that players who go on IR should be paid their salary that year, but what if that salary didn’t count against the cap? Not sure if this is tenable or not, but it seems silly to have a player count against the cap that doesn’t contribute. The same logic could apply to retirements, also.

    Maybe the boys will negotiate this into the next CBA.

  60. Dlavid Says:

    Absolute BS from the coach and management !

  61. frozenbuc Says:

    We were going nowhere in last season’s playoffs. Playing Jensen in the wild card game was sheer stupidity.

  62. Pewter Power Says:

    The mistake was operating on hope, that’s how you get fired.

    They had to know based on how the o line played last year that yea you didn’t need to trade but there had to be someone worthy of being drafted.

  63. Capt2fish Says:

    Why not put Trask at center? From what I have read on this board, there is NOTHING he cant do exceptionally well. I mean…other than start in the NFL.

    All kidding aside, I think hainsey is serviceable in this offensive scheme. I would be shocked if Licht doesn’t add some depth after cuts.

  64. Usfbuc Says:

    For his first year as a starter anywhere on the line Hainsey played well. Only see one penalty and he was only credited with giving up 20 pressures last year on 800 passing plays. He should improve with additional play.

    If Jensen is able to play again next year then we have great depth at center/guard regardless of who they start. Or maybe Mauch doesn’t play well and we can flip Hainsey to RG if Jensen is able to play center again.

  65. Tye Says:

    I just love the Title:

    “False Hope”
    and the pic is Todd Bowles… That should be a page in the Encyclopedia!…

  66. Sly Pirate Says:

    HOLY SH#T!!!

    No other fan base in the NFL would have so many comments on a Center. Love you all!!!

    The real issue. Hainsey is a good (not great center) but, until last year, he never played a full season without getting hurt. Licht’ s #1 job is to find a backup before the season starts.

  67. captivajim Says:


    Licht joined Bucs in 2014 , Bucs did not make playoffs until 2020 –when Brady Called them & brought Gonk with him & brought in AB ; we then won the SB . We could have won a 2nd SB if bowles defense could have contained Rams for 40 seconds .

  68. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I have to wonder why Ryan did not get his injury fixed surgically, instead of fooling around with stem cells ?