Might The Bucs Turn Back To Sean Murphy-Bunting?

February 1st, 2024

The way Joe understands it works at One Buc Palace is the front office slaps a value — and an interest level — on every free agent.

Then as the free agency moves forward into its second, third and fourth waves, the Bucs hone in on what players represent a great deal. ‘Hey, we see this nose tackle as a $4 million per year rotational guy who can help us — and he could be had for $1.75 million.’

That brings Joe to the Bucs’ porous secondary.

Yeah, it was hurt this season by a very inconsistent pass rush that too-often struggled to get pressure in a four-man front. But it also had its own issues that weren’t just attributed to injury.

Big-money cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean combined to miss nine regular season games while hauling in only two interceptions. Undrafted rookie Christian Izien hit a rookie wall at nickel cornerback but seemed to find the other side late in the season. Zyon McCollum grew a lot in his second year as he picked up the nine starts forfeited by the Davis-Dean duo, and McCollum got snaps at safety, too. Safety Ryan Neal struggled after a good start to the season alongside All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield, Jr.

So what’s the fix back there?

Joe doesn’t see the Bucs targeting the secondary in the draft, but Joe could see Todd Bowles wanting McCollum on the field regularly and desiring to turn him into a safety. So that has Joe wondering if the Bucs might turn to old friend Sean Murphy-Bunting as a value free agent.

Bowles didn’t want to lose cornerback/nickel Murphy-Bunting in free agency last season after grooming him for four years. In Bowles’ mind, the Bucs’ 2019 second-round draft pick is a supremely intelligent player capable of coaching in the NFL one day.

But Murphy-Bunting went to Tennessee last March on a one-year deal for $3.5 million. Now he’ll be a free agent again as the Titans blow up their roster with a new head coach. Murphy-Bunting, 26, gutted through injuries to play and start 14 games this season, closing strong with an interception and seven solo tackles and a tackle for loss against Jacksonville.

Joe could envision Bowles barking in general manager Jason Licht’s ear about bringing back Murphy-Bunting.

His experience in the defense is extremely valuable to Bowles, and perhaps more than ever, Bucs officials are convinced that Super Bowl veterans blended with young players is a formula for success. Murphy-Bunting would fit that mold as Devin White leaves the building, possibly with Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett alongside him.

Joe’s not selling SMB, only pointing out that he might be a coveted young depth piece for the rising head coach.

35 Responses to “Might The Bucs Turn Back To Sean Murphy-Bunting?”

  1. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Should’ve never let him go, played well for Tennessee this year

  2. catcard202 Says:

    I’d take a swing at SMB in FA…But also look for a slot corner in the draft.
    Hearing good things about Fresno St’s – CB Carlton Johnson & UK’s – CB Dru Phillips at the Sr. Bowl practices…Either would be a nice addition to the Bucs secondary on Day 3.

  3. HC Grover Says:


  4. A Bucs Fan Says:

    All three players that left TB’s secondary (Edwards, Whitehead, and SMB) have gone on to play well and find success with their new teams.

  5. ModHairKen Says:

    Why hell yeah.

  6. Tye Says:

    Would SMB even want to come back to the Bucs still having the same DC….
    Maybe if he has no other options!

  7. Brandon Says:

    I guarantee Licht will draft a CB. Not sure a draft has gone by that he hasn’t.

  8. NJbucs23 Says:

    Oh hell no. All you see is 23 trailing someone.

  9. JimBobBuc Says:

    Wish we still had Whitehead as we need safety help the most. Zyon is a poor tackler or at least very inconsistent so I don’t like him at safety. A couple high rated SS may be available at 26. I still like a FA center and or Edge rather than a DB

  10. BucsFan81 Says:

    A lot of ex Bucs players playing well on other teams. Jordan Whitehead with the jets. SMB with the Titans. Mike Edwards with the Chiefs. We seem to lose a lot of good players. Logan Ryan with the 49ers I guess could be included also.

  11. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Way down the list of priorities……we have major FA signings and an OC to sign along with a ST coach……I like SMB but only so much.

  12. Fred Says:

    Bring Mike Edwards back 4 sure

  13. Popcorn Mike Says:

    I think Bunting was a cap casualty

  14. Defense Rules Says:

    Odds are quite good IMO that we’ll trade or release Carlton Davis, so I’d love for us to re-sign SMB because of his experience in Bowles’ defense if nothing else. He struggled at times on the outside, but did quite well I thought as our Nickel CB.

    The ideal Secondary IMO has 10 guys … 5 CBs, 4 Safeties & 1 ‘Flex’ who can do anything back there (a Logan Ryan type). If we release Davis, we’d have Dean, McCollum as our CBs, Winfield (assuming we can re-sign him), Hayes & Merriweather as our Safeties, and Izien as our Flex (plus several others from the Practice Squad with no experience).

    That only leaves us with 6 under contract. I’d re-sign Delaney as depth, but that still leaves us 3 short. SB could certainly fill one of those 3 CB spots very easily and at a reasonable cost.

  15. Fansince76 Says:

    I like it, thumbs up for bringing him back!

  16. HC Grover Says:

    CHOP. ya herd it here first….CHOP

  17. bucsfan951 Says:

    are we not sure the fix isn’t up front? not to defend the secondary but breathing on a qb works wonders with ints. last time i checked, the front can use some improvement in that area.

  18. Frank Pillow Says:

    Todd really needs to simplify his system so the DBs can execute— he’s been here for 1/2 a decade and yet ‘communication issues’ persist. Actually, the real question is why is the HC still here if a majority of key coaching positions are undergoing an overhaul? Is he that essential to be the last man standing?

  19. IrishTony Says:

    Need to sign Whitehead.

  20. IrishTony Says:

    I want them to sign Whitehead.

  21. Pickgrin Says:

    Rather bring back Whitehead and keep Zyon at CB….

  22. D-Rok Says:

    I’d welcome SMB back. At the least, way more valuable than Neal.

  23. realistic-optimistic Says:

    I didn’t realize Whitehead was available this offseason. If he’s willing to return, Licht needs to make it happen. Should have never let him get away. SMB not so much. He was never very useful.

  24. Bucs Guy Says:

    Agree with Pickgrin

  25. Architek Says:

    3 words: Aww Hell Naw

  26. Usfbucs Says:

    If I had to pick one it’s Whitehead but if we can get SMB on a good deal I would take him too.

  27. BakerBucs Says:

    Beggars can’t be choosers

  28. BakerBucs Says:

    No sense in having a coach a gm or staff as long as this site has all u brainiachs

  29. Crunchbuc76 Says:

    But he sucks!

  30. Bring back the lawn chairs Says:

    A team can never really have enough good players on its roster, that’s for sure despite the possibility of a coaching staff malfunction appearing to tell those in the secondary to play like charmin soft lawn chairs not covering anyone in particular and seemingly getting lost off the field in the tunnel sometimes playing 15 yards plus off in some games, as the coaching staff believed some players couldn’t play man , so they decided to throw the entire secondary in the penalty box and go soft lawn chair zone. Which never made any sense to me. If you have a player who can’t play man, find one that can is what I think.
    It seemed to me the secondary lost most of that zero coverage zone element as time went on this year and Winfield refused to buy into any of that getting lost in coverage scheme the Bucs evidently so proudly displayed in midseason form this year. Winfield was having none of that hence his all pro designation.

  31. CleanHouse Says:

    Great article, but who is the rising head coach? You lost me.

  32. TomBucsFan Says:

    Same can be said for Mike Edwards and Whitehead. Should’ve kept them.

  33. Mort Says:

    A day 2 or more likely 3 corner in the draft is almost guaranteed in my mind. What do you mean they aren’t gonna draft one?

  34. Danny Says:

    Hard no on SMB.

  35. Lantz Holley Says:

    One thing about SMB if/when healthy he intercepts ball. 1st person I thought of when Dean dropped that pick against Detroit. SMB would have picked that off.