For the second year in a row, the Bucs have a number of free agents to deal with this offseason. At the top of their priority list will be wide receiver Chris Godwin and cornerback Carlton Davis. But center Ryan Jensen, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, running back Leonard Fournette and safety Jordan Whitehead won’t be far behind. But a low-key quality re-signing for the Bucs would be defensive tackle Will Gholston.

The lifelong Buc will be 31 years old when next training camp starts, but he’s playing the best football of his career. Gholston has 4.5 sacks this year, easily the best mark of his nine seasons in the league. Gholston has gotten better every year under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, showing remarkable development as a rusher. Over the past two seasons, the Michigan State product has 7.5 sacks and 31 quarterback hits. Over his previous seven seasons, Gholston had just 12 sacks and 41 quarterback hits.

Free Agency Plans For Gholston

Nationally, Gholston is a relative unknown. He’s never been a splash play defensive tackle, but he’s the picture of consistency and durability. Gholston hasn’t missed a game since 2017, and has missed just nine of 145 possible games in his career. He’s also one of the best human beings and hardest workers within the organization. With Suh and Steve McLendon nearing the end, Gholston should be a priority re-signing for the Bucs. Fortunately, he’s made his desire to stay in Tampa Bay very clear.

“It would mean everything to be honest with you,” Gholston asked about being able to remain Tampa Bay. “I love it here. This is home for me. Even listening and talking to guys who come in from different teams or left to go to different teams. I really wouldn’t know what to do outside of this place. I know the community here, the community knows me. And I know the building, I know the staff. It’s nothing I really even think about.”

Thankfully, Gholston’s return should be a formality. The Bucs need quality defensive tackle help, and the veteran defender is beloved amongst the coaching staff. Gholston made $5.5 million this season, and would be sought after by other teams. But I don’t think he plans to go anywhere, and I’m guessing the Bucs feel the same way. Expect the team’s 2013 fourth round pick to be back in red and pewter next season.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com'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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bucballer
bucballer
4 months ago

Going to be tuff. We can’t resign everyone with a pay increase. Hope they can get Gholston done.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  bucballer
4 months ago

Don’t underestimate what the Bucs GM and front office staff can and will do in retaining quality players. Nobody a year ago believed they would be able to return the entire 22-man starting lineup in 2021, but they did, despite the fact that the 2021 salary cap was cut due to the effects of COVID in 2020. But full stadiums are back in 2021 and beyond, so the salary cap is making a big jump in 2022 and will continue to escalate due to the very generous TV broadcast contracts. NFL games are consistently the highest rated TV programs for… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 months ago

They probably will go to Tom again and ask him to restructure his contract for more cap space and Tom will do it too. He has done it frequently for New England.

TBChucky
TBChucky
4 months ago

Would love to have big Will back! Get it done Licht!

eaustinyoung
eaustinyoung
4 months ago

I think they sign him. He’s great value for his cost. And likely losing some guys on that line will make him important. He’s been quietly one of the most consistent contributors to the d line.

drdneast
drdneast
4 months ago

I want him back too but only at the right price. He is getting old in DL ages and his replacement should be on the horizon.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

31 isn’t old for defensive linemen if they are healthy, as Gholston most certainly is and has been. Most of the good DLs have played well into their mid 30s. LT played to age 34, Reggie White to age 35, Kevin Greene to 37, Deacon Jones to 36, Michael Strahan to 37, John Randle to 36. If healthy Gholston should be productive for another 5 years.

Spitfire
Spitfire
4 months ago

Hope so. Probably be his last contract but will definitely help us in any transition that may take place in the next few years.

bucballer
bucballer
4 months ago

Gholston has gotten better every year. He does the dirty work inside that doesn’t always show up on stat sheet. Deserves another contract.

buccaneerNW
buccaneerNW
4 months ago

So 2 out of 3 pretty solid to return. Suh could retire, but he’s still under contract if he chooses to continue. We need to beef up the depth there, with Nacho being the only reliable sub. I guess Pat O’Connor was developing until he got hurt… but we let Khalil Davis out of the building – I have no idea if he’s done anything in Indy, but it would’ve been nice to keep some young blood on the DL. I can’t see us not taking a DL in the first 3 rounds of the draft.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  buccaneerNW
4 months ago

If Suh is still enjoying the game, then I think he plays one more year. The Bucs would want to. He’ll get a few more millions to fund his mutual funds with his friend, the wizard of Omaha. He’s extremely durable and reliable. He still strikes fear in the young Offensive Linemen! And why wouldn’t he play one more? Got Tom Brady in for one more and perhaps his last as well. If it was the Lions, I’d retire. The Bucs? I’d run one more if I’m Suh. And yes! U resign Gholston! He’s a good value player who seems… Read more »