Safeties For The Win?

May 19th, 2024

Head coach Todd Bowles.

It’s rare for a team to be able to boast(?) that it pays its No. 2 safety as much as its most expensive pass rusher.

But the Bucs occupy that chair with edge rusher Anthony Nelson getting the biggest Tampa Bay salary at his position, $4.5 million, the same bag the Bucs handed safety Jordan Whitehead in March.

Of course, All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. is now the richest defensive back in the NFL with his new deal, two years for $45 million guaranteed.

NFL defenses aren’t typically built that way when it comes to allocating resources, but the Bucs don’t have a typical defense. Tampa Bay has no expensive edge rusher to pay after deactivating the key card of Bucs sacks king Shaq Barrett.

So are the safeties worth it?

Every offseason, film guru and former Jets assistant linebackers coach and player personnel chief Pat Kirwan ranks position groups of every NFL team. It’s an exercise he goes through in great detail with his SiriusXM NFL Radio co-host Jim Miller. They have a formula that factors in production experience and more.

For 2024, the safety breakdowns wrapped on Friday. The Bucs were given the honor of the best safeties room in the NFL, scoring 19 out of a possible 20 points.

Joe wonders what production standard Todd Bowles has set for Whitehead and Winfield, and how much he expects the presence of Whitehead to free up Winfield to be used in more varied and exotic ways.

Paying out that much for safeties has to translate on the field. The teams with the top-10 highest paid safeties last season were a very unimpressive bunch.

17 Responses to “Safeties For The Win?”

  1. Dewey Selmon Says:

    When your highest paid pass rusher is Nelson you’d better have dang good safeties cause there are going to be completed passes due to ineffective pass rushers.

  2. Saskbucs Says:

    The Bucs likely win 2 more games last year if you simply replace Neal with Whitehead. Obviously it would be nice to have a game wrecker on the edge but we know it’s been tough for the Bucs to acquire one of those for a few reasons and I am happy with how this roster has been built.

    As far as I am concerned, with no stud OLB, we now have the next best thing and that’s competitive depth. We didn’t just wait and hope Diaby and Ramirez and Watts were gonna be the answer, we added Gregory and Braswell and there should be a lot of hunger there. Kancey is our game wrecker up front now and with a deeper secondary, this D looks ready to hunt and change games.

  3. rrsrqnc Says:

    Interesting, I listened to most of that but missed the Bucs, I wondered about the depth being able to have that high of a ranking

  4. Daniel Hammond Says:

    I definitely like the way that we have it set up when Winfield needed to get paid we have to have him on our team but the rookies from last year and the rookies from this year have got to step up as far as and think they will

  5. Daniel Hammond Says:

    Also think even though we didn’t see Dennis last year the Buccaneers definitely see something in him

  6. BillyBucco Says:

    The ONLY thing that scares me is KJ Britt at LB.
    It has been said the NFL is leaning towards more 12 personnel and Baltimore and LV are projected to start in that lineup.
    Seeing KJ Britt cover Brock Bowers gives me cold sweats.
    Especially with Michael Mayer on the other side.
    Just look at the lineup of TEs we face this year.
    Im actually hoping Dennis or Deloach wins the job.

  7. D-Rok Says:

    Wow 19/20 ranking from Kirwan is exceptionally high praise.

  8. Buccos Says:

    If we had Whitehead last season we play in the Super Bowl

  9. MadMax Says:

    Bringing Whitehead back and adding Tykee who also plays nickel CB, that changes things, which is what i wanted. Some might think its crazy to pay Winfield that kind of money, but trust me, he’s worth it.

    Im thinking next draft we’ll hit CB high….probably gonna need it.

  10. Capt.Tim Says:

    What were we ranked last year for pass defense?
    Pass defense starts with pass rush.
    I love our secondary. Our Safeties are absolutely the best!
    Ive been a big supporter of Zyon, and really like the CBs were signed this offseason. Still thinking that Josh Hayes can have an impact.

    But for us to improve from last place in Pass defense, we are gonna have to generate a pass rush.
    Think Braswell is gonna be a good pass rusher in a year or two.
    Hope we have a plan to generate a pass rush.
    Want to see the Bucs make a Superbowl run. Cant do that with last place pass defense.

  11. dmatt Says:

    AWinfield earned n deserves every dime n some. He play fast, he’s relentless, hungry, aggressive, play with high alert, never ever give up on a play no matter if it highly favors the ball carrier, and he’s ur modern true grit type player. Now watch highlights on former Bucs RNeal, DWhite, n current Bucs JDean n you’ll notice that they do not give their all such as Winfield, they all give up on plays. We need to good riddance a culture of poor work ethics n do not bring in players that will create a toxic environment… it can spread amongst others. Winfield is a game changer.

  12. garro Says:

    Not a big sack guy but plays his position and shows up. I would say Nelson is a bargain for 4.5 Joe. He has been our most steady OLB and the only one we have left who can consistently do more than pass rush. Like hold the edge and tackle. Had a down year last year though with only three sacks.

    Diaby may be the guy though. He and Nelson have been way better and more consistent than JTS.

    They also got a bargain getting Whitehead for less.

    Go Bucs!

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    If Whitehead can still bring it, this team has NFL Safety luxury.

  14. unbelievable Says:

    Even with the best safety tandem in the league, you still need a pass rush or the secondary will still get smoked.

    Anyone remember what happened when the Pop Star and Schiano tried to “build the defense from the back”? Yea… ugly times.

    As always, it starts up front.

  15. Dave Pear Says:

    Todd’s players don’t know their assignments, and bust so regularly it’s like watching a spastic drop china plates on the driveway.

    It simply doesn’t matter. Edge rush, DBs, all ineffective. The NFL has figured out Dr Complexity. Welcome to the worst pass defense in NFL history, coming this fall.

  16. stpetebucfan Says:

    AGAIN! Troy Palamalu a “safety” who played all over the field. Most of the all time great safeties moved around a lot even covering specific receivers instead of the “usual” safety stuff.

    Winfield makes the elephant dollars because he CAN do it all, safety, cheat up to play like a small linebacker, cover individuals like a corner, Winfield is the wild card just like Palomalu.

    Meanwhile both Whitehead and McCollum also bring a lot of versatility with their games, not Winfield level but still solid.

    “Welcome to the worst pass defense in NFL history, coming this fall.”

    I wish Dave Pear’s posts were listed as “prop” bets in Vegas. We could all get rich betting against his opinion.

  17. teacherman1983 Says:

    Tykes Smith is a capable backup if either of our safeties go down.

    I honestly think Izien could backup Winfield very well. They are similar players.

    I feel good with our backup safety: Tykes Smith.

    Our backup nickle: Thomas, Hayes, Smith, Izien

    Our backup outside corner: Bryce Hall.


    Licht and Bowles have done a great job.

    I hope we find a stud undrafted free agent outside corner.

    That’s my hope. That we can somehow find a 6-3 beast of an outside corner.