Today launches an annual award that I’ll be giving out at, where I selected the Bucs’ Offensive and Defensive 12th Men of the Year. I’ll choose one player on either side of the ball that is not a regular starter and played less than 500 snaps on the year, yet made a significant enough contribution to be consistently impactful when on the field.

There were several worthy contenders for this year’s Tampa Bay team, but in the end the choices were still pretty obvious.

Offensive 12th Man Of The Year Award – WR Scotty Miller

Wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Cameron Brate deserve shout-outs for this award, but in the end it was pretty obvious that Miller was the most-deserving 12th Man on the Bucs this season. It’s been awhile since Miller was a major contributor in the Bucs offense, so perhaps people have forgotten that the diminutive receiver was leading the team in receiving yards at the midseason point. As the Bucs dealt with injuries to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin over the first half of the season, before Brown was in the picture, Miller was the one constant the team could rely on in the passing game.

And was he ever impactful. Over the first seven games of the season, Miller went over the 70-yard mark four times, including a six-catch, 109-yard, one-touchdown showing against the Raiders in Las Vegas. Miller was one of the team’s best deep threats all season long, catching eight passes of 20 yards or more on just 20 deep targets, per Pro Football Focus.

The arrival of Brown certainly put a dent in Miller’s playing time and production, but the second-year pro still managed to find ways to make an impact. Miller’s 48-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings was a pivotal play in turning the tide back in Tampa Bay’s favor after Minnesota was surging early in the game. Then against the Saints in the divisional round, Miller’s sliding 29-yard catch between two defenders helped set up a crucial Bucs field goal late in the fourth quarter to break a 20-20 tie, giving Tampa bay a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

But the play Miller will be most remembered for this season is his torching of Packers cornerback Kevin King to score a 36-yard touchdown with just a few seconds remaining in the first half of the NFC Championship Game, giving the Bucs a 21-10 halftime lead. For a guy who caught just 12 passes in 12 games from Week 9 on, Miller always seemed to find a way to make his plays count. He’s exactly what you look for in the 12th Man of the Year Award – a big impact in a small role.

Defensive 12th Man Of The Year Award – FS Mike Edwards

Not many will remember the fine play of Mike Edward when recalling this 2020 Bucs championship season, but I certainly will. Billed as the starter throughout training camp, Edwards could have soured quickly when Antoine Winfield Jr. passed him on the depth chart right before Week 1. Instead Edwards said all the right things to the media and just kept working, not seeing his first real action of the season until Week 3 against Denver.

That’s when Edwards would put himself on the map, with a beautiful read and one-handed catch of a Brett Rypien pass from his single-high safety alignment. Those would be the ball skills that would define Edwards season, as he played just 320 defensive snaps (including the playoffs), but intercepted three passes and broke up eight others, two of which resulted in interceptions for Winfield, including one in the Super Bowl.

To have a third safety that could play at the level Edwards played at this season is almost unheard of in today’s NFL. Every time the team called on him, he delivered. A total of 131 of Edwards 320 snaps came in the playoffs, as the safety was instrumental in shutting down options down the field for Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. In four playoff games, Edwards broke up three passes, intercepted another and recorded 11 tackles while missing only one stop and surrendering just four catches for 47 yards on ten targets.

Oh, by the way, Edwards would have had another interception if this gem in Week 7 hadn’t been negated by a penalty.

It’ll be a luxury for the Bucs to have Edwards remain in a third safety role next season, as he showed starting-caliber ability in his snap load this year. Perhaps the former Kentucky star isn’t as versatile as the Bucs first envisioned when selecting Edwards in the third round, but his range and ball skills as a free safety should allow them to be more flexible with Winfield’s more diverse skill set next season.

Other contenders on the defensive side of the ball included defensive tackle Steve McLendon and cornerback Ross Cockrell, but Edwards was the clear winner.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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5 months ago

Edwards is an unsung hero. One of the few who played great zone coverage. Luckily the zone coverage improved in the postseason because it was their biggest weakness most of the year.

5 months ago

Agreed. Both good picks who would’ve played more on almost every other team.

5 months ago

More golden finds of Jason.

5 months ago

Excellent choices on both accounts. Leonard Fournette probably also deserves a shout out after the playoffs

5 months ago

Edwards played great when called upon esp in Superbowl had some key pass break ups, have no idea why Steve Mclendon is honorable mention he did nothing for most of the yr he vest game is vs Oak when he had 4 tackles

Reply to  jongruden
5 months ago

McLendon chased Mahomes all over the field multiple times during the SB. Also their run defense never broke down after Vea got hurt. He was a killer signing.

5 months ago

Good choices, Jon. I knew even before I scrolled down that it should be Mike Edwards, he had a great year even if he was somewhat under the radar. Looking good for next year also.

5 months ago

Definitely agree. I think Miller could easily do everything AB did this year. I think they should try to get him more screen routes and not always have to be just deep. It was so nice to see Edwards come through. Our Secondary is so young and had to go through so many growing pains but it is obvious they all ave talent and are all finding their place at the same time and it will be scary for other teams downfield next season. This might be the first year we don’t end up having to Draft anyone in the… Read more »

5 months ago

Congratulations Scotty!

5 months ago

Very well deserved for both these guys. Scotty will make the loss of AB sting a lot less (if he doesn’t stay at a reasonable price) and Edwards has been balling from the start. Without Winfield, he would be starting but there is little drop off between the 2.

5 months ago

I really like recognizing an impact player who didn’t have a starting position. Good idea! Not sure if Cameron Brate is considered a starter or not, but he deserves some appreciation along with Scotty Miller. On the defensive side, depending on the personnel grouping, I wonder if SMB is to be considered. In any even, Mike Edwards certainly contributed when he had the opportunity.