The Bucs appear to be moving on from a trio of leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Although the team hasn’t officially shut the door on their return, outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and reserve inside linebacker Kevin Minter haven’t been re-signed.

Their departure has created a bit of leadership void on defense, and on special teams where Minter was a captain the past two years. Tampa Bay has a pair of defensive captains returning at the linebacker level in Lavonte David and Pro Bowler Devin White, but will need others to lead up front.

Time For Barrett To Replace JPP

Bucs OLBs Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Ndamukong Suh

Bucs OLBs Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Pierre-Paul was a loud, vocal leader with an alpha presence about him. He brought energy to the Bucs huddle on the field and on the sideline. At age 33 and coming off rotator cuff surgery, it’s doubtful he returns to Tampa Bay. The Bucs drafted Joe Tryon-Shoyinka in the first round last year and have talked about him starting this season. But at age 22 and entering his second NFL season he’s nowhere ready to lead.

Instead, outside linebacker Shaq Barrett has been asked to step up. Barrett, a two-time Pro Bowler, signed a four-year contract extension worth $17 million per year in 2020.

New outside linebackers coach Bob Sanders hasn’t been around Barrett that long since joining the staff in March. But he does know that Barrett has what it takes to fill the void created by Pierre-Paul’s departure.

“He definitely is an excellent, excellent player,” Sanders said. “As important, he’s a great person too. He has a great work ethic. … He’s a coachable guy, and he’s a leader. His work ethic – not only on the field, but in the classroom – has been good. I think he’s in for another big year – I really do.”

Bucs co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers agrees with Sanders.

“From the outside perspective, I would say Shaq – which is a steady player for us – he would have to step up into that role on the outside with [Anthony] Nelson, Joe and Cam [Gill] being younger.”

Bucs Appear To Be Turning The Page On Suh

Suh turned 35 in January and showed some signs of slowing down last year despite registering six sacks for a second straight season. General manager Jason Licht was asked about Suh’s possible return in a press conference during the draft after the team selected Logan Hall, a defensive tackle from Houston. Hall, the team’s first pick in the second round, will start at the 3-technique defensive tackle position, which is where Suh played.

Bucs DTs Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea

Bucs DTs Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea – Photo by: USA Today

Licht made it sound like Suh might only be re-signed by the Bucs in an emergency situation.

“No, we’re not shutting the door,” Licht said. “There are a lot of injuries that happen throughout the year and we’re not putting all of our stock in the guys we have right now, so I wouldn’t shut the door.”

Without Suh’s presence, Rodgers expects nose tackle Vita Vea, the team’s first-round pick in 2018, to assume a leadership role this season.

“Inside, it would be Vita – he would have to step up and assume the role, which he should,” Rodgers said. “He comes to work every day, he’s here and knows what we have to do and get done. Through attrition, Vita should step up into the role upfront. We still have two leaders at linebacker (David and White) so it will be by committee. Those guys will have big shoes to fill.”

Late last year, Vea signed a five-year contract extension worth $17.75 million per season. That came on the heels of earning his first Pro Bowl berth.

“He was going really good the year before and then he came back for the playoff run,” Rodgers said of Vea. “Then the way he played this past year he was getting more and more confident as the season went on. He was still favoring [his ankle] some and knocking the rust off, but as the season finished I thought he was playing really well. Now the thing with him, he’s got to – and I’m harping on him – he’s the biggest guy on the field … but he’s got to play like that all the time.”

Britt, Stuard Stepping Up For Bucs On Special Teams

The job of replacing Minter as the backup inside linebacker behind White and David will fall on the broad shoulders of K.J. Britt. Last year’s fifth-round pick, Britt has drawn rave reviews not only for his ability to learn the middle linebacker role on defense, but also to star on special teams.

Bucs LBs Grant Stuard and K.J. Britt

Bucs LBs Grant Stuard and K.J. Britt – Photo by: USA Today

Britt was fourth on the team last year with five special teams tackles. Minter was third with seven. Last year’s seventh-round pick, linebacker Grant Stuard, led Tampa Bay with 12 special teams tackles and forced a fumble.

Special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong implied that Britt or Stuard could take over as a special teams captain to fill the void created by Minter’s departure.

“K.J. is doing a really good job,” Armstrong said. “Most of the young guys are here right now and we’re doing a lot of defense and special teams-type stuff. K.J. is doing a good job of running the defense now. Some of that may carry over to the special teams part of it. The same thing with Grant.”

Share On Socials

About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
Subscribe
Notify of
37 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
drdneast
drdneast
1 month ago

I can understand not signing JPP but not getting Suh to ink a deal would be a big mistake. Hall isn’t ready to reolace Suh full time on the DL. I hope this is just a negotiating ploy by Licht. It would seem an imaginative GM would be able to ink Suh to a deal whose final numbers are determined by how many snaps and sacks he gets. Suh is still a monster on the DL and he was credited with having the best game of all the DL’s against the Rams.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Too costly and about time some of these old veterans stop thinking aging makes you worth more. I believe we are moving forward in a good way; Brady was a extra plus we got, but this should be it for him. Lets see what Trask has learned and can transfer that knowledge into real game performances in 2023. Go Bucs!

Theerealdiehl
Theerealdiehl
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Well said and I think it would be a mistake not to bring in a veteran ILB for the minimum to compete for the 3rd ILB spot with Stuard and KJ Britt

Bradley Smith
Bradley Smith
1 month ago

I think Suh is worth the veteran minimum, but there are younger players that need playing time and could be better.

fredster
fredster
Reply to  Bradley Smith
1 month ago

Suh had 6 sacks last season and played hurt and was a leader, as well as still one leagues best run defenders and you want to pay him league minimum? Hilarious. From 9 million last year to league minimum. Yeah that’s gonna happen lol. Maybe won’t be 9 million this year, but won’t be far off. I don’t see any of the “young” DT’s coming close to Suh’s production this year or being better. This year is the window with Brady. I too hope Licht is just negotiating. You never know how it’s going to turn out, but I have… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by fredster
drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

I concur completely. League minimum. LOL. “What a maroooon,” Bugs Bunny.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Bradley Smith
1 month ago

With all due respect Bradley, you are a dim bulb. This is the Bucs final chance for a SB for at least five years. This isn’t a rebuild develop the youth year. It’s the last shot at a SB for some time to come.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

With all due respect Bradley, you are a dim bulb. ?????

theman101
theman101
1 month ago

By cutting Pinion, restructuring Brady and creating this cap space, for what? I feel like we should have between 10-15 mill with those moves. Why can’t we just get Suh to contribute to Hall’s development. They’ve said on the pod they can sign whoever and make it work. I get wanting to get younger, but the draft is over and you’ve only added a single D-lineman… Bring back Suh and add more pieces next year

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
1 month ago

I don’t believe that Jason Licht employs “negotiation ploys” – he’s always been entirely up front and honest in his dealings with the players, the coaches, and the media. He is honestly saying that Suh may not be resigned. Well, I’m sure Licht would like to have him on the roster, but not at the price he paid last season. It is most likely a matter of getting Suh’s price down, and freeing up additional salary cap … like, for instance, replacing our punter at $2.9M with a rookie salary at $660K. Maybe that’s enough, or maybe not. Licht will… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Nice thouht about Licht but naive ones. There isn’t a GM in the league that doesn’t use ploys or devices the guard the money. That is what negotiating is all about.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

I agree Naples fan; Licht has been straight up with Agents and Players.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
1 month ago

Not worried about leadership. It’ll develop just as all players develop.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Naplesfan, agree again. Yelling and screaming isn’t always the answer, and it gets old quickly; knowing, when and how, to motivate others I hope is in the frame of doing this together. Go Bucs!

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

That’s exactly what Raheem Morris & Mark Dominic said back 09′. Lets get rid of all the veterans and draft all new young players and call them Youngry! Yeah okay! The very minute Brooks & Ronde left building the knuckleheads rose up Talib, Blount and where did that get us? A drugged out QB & severe mRSA outbreak eating the toes off of our best players. Ah No Thank You! BA & Jason Licht have proven that they know how to build a team with a healthy dose of veteran leadership. I’ll take that approach

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

They got rid of all the older veterans because of cap space issues if you remember.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

Pushing Granny over the cliff because of cap space is irresponsible! IMHO. I totally remember when Dom or Dumb took over. He cut Derrick Brooks, Matt Bryant, Warwick Dunn, Jeff Garcia & tried to replace them with Derrick Ward, Byron Leftwich, and Kellen Winslow…These young players need some mentorship and good mgmt know it.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

Pushing Granny over the cliff because of cap space is irresponsible! 

WTF????

You guys just slay me … the cap exists so that teams have more or less equal resources and opportunities to compete for a Super Bowl championship. The only thing that is irresponsible is to squander valuable cap space by overpaying over the hill vets who won’t take a pay cut. Happens every single season on every single team.

ElioT
ElioT
1 month ago

IMO Suh’s leadership and play would be sorely missed if they let him walk. He’d be crucial for helping Hall start on the right path on and off the field. He’s healthy, he can still make impact plays and set the tone.
Go Bucs!!!!

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  ElioT
1 month ago

It’s a no brainer! Suh wants to play one more here and the Bucs would like his veteran leadership on the field. That’s a given. I think at the last moment Suh signs a one year/last year contract. Probably in the 6-7 mil range. Suh is getting old. Fact. But he still demands respect out on the field and opposing linemen have to make sure to account for him on every play. His football intelligence is all business. One more year would be ideal for both as he can influence these younger ends and the new blood bodies inside. Hope… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  ElioT
1 month ago

He’s a good and valuable player, but every player who makes the 53 man roster is supposed to be valuable, unless you have a bad team, which we don’t. Being good means team having to make decisions about which 53 guys make your team the best. Given the recent track record of Jason Licht, his staff, and the coaches, there’s absolutely no room to complain about their judgment. But the negative Nancy’s here still complain. Go figure.

twspin
twspin
1 month ago

Our Bucs have shown throughout the offseason and the draft, The Defense is quite secondary to them. It’s an. Afterthought. Let’s hope this train of thought does not come back to bite us square in the A… I suspect it will. But we shall see.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  twspin
1 month ago

Yep … so “secondary” that it merely produced the 5th ranked defense in the league … oh so very far behind our 2nd ranked offense – 3 whole spots!!!. And did that despite massive injury losses on the roster all season long. You guys just slay me with your ridiculous expectations!!! Come back and complain about the defense when it ranks in the bottom quarter of the league.

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
Horse
Horse
1 month ago

Glad to see the young blood coming forward. Go Bucs!

surferdudes
surferdudes
1 month ago

Be nice if Britt, and Stuard can turn into solid back ups this year to go along with their ST’s play. I’m a UCF fan. Stuard was a good LB in college, he always showed up to play against the Knights, and always played well. Once he gets the defense down, I think you’re going to like what you see. He plays like he’s on fire every play. Britt played in the SEC, think he’ll be an improvement over Minter.

StreetzMyestro
StreetzMyestro
1 month ago

The Bengals went to the Super Bowl with one of the youngest rosters in the league and a crappy oline. I’m sure we’ll be fine without Suh and JPP. It’s time to get younger and let these guys play. Last season folks were complaining about JPP still playing while injured instead of letting JTS play. Well, it’s time to show and prove. I have confidence in our team. Oh, and lastly, we don’t know what Suh is asking for price wise and it’s not like we have tons of cash. Still need some for injuries when the season starts and… Read more »

PewterHeart
PewterHeart
1 month ago

Having to let both go is no bueno for various reasons…bring back Suh at least..wish we had drafted the man all those years back.

bucballer
bucballer
1 month ago

Its time for DB Davis to step up as a leader as well! He’s getting paid like a top corner, he needs be a vocal leader out there with these younger guys. At least these younger Bucs only know the Bucs as winners. They have not experienced the years of futility and humiliation. David and Shaq HAVE to lead out there! It’s their Defense with Vea as well. I think the Brady effect can possibly cross the line of scrimmage as well. Brady demands perfection and is a model of the right way to go about winning. Time to grow… Read more »

Kimba
Kimba
1 month ago

What about Will Gholston? How does he play a role in filling the void? Maybe he can lead the prebattle rally cry that used to be the responsibility of JPP. The one where you would be put into a trance listening and watching the gesticulations and unintelligible rant of the Haitian warrior. Yeah, oh well, nevermind, just resign JPP, Suh and leave Gronk on the beach.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
1 month ago

The team would gladly welcome back Suh and JPP for the right price. It is as simple as that $$$$

NHNole
NHNole
1 month ago

ugh. we need these guys. but not as starters…wait, maybe that is why we don’t need them. He’ll. I don’t know.

Dman
Dman
1 month ago

Britt is very smart and is a hitter. Question for me is his speed and coverage skills. Love the way Stuard plays. Will be interested in how he develops this season.

Spitfire
Spitfire
1 month ago

First off, I’m guessing they don’t wanna look desperate with Suh and having Drafted Hall with our first pick makes it so we don’t have to be, and hopefully Suh comes back for a reasonable price knowing we have a real chance to get another Ring to help solidify his spot in Canton. It’s gonna be hard to replace JPP’s leadership but I think JTS is gonna find more confidence this year being handed the starting role and not eng a Roomie anymore. I think we will see good things from him and Barrett taking over that line. Finally, our… Read more »

parnelldickinson
parnelldickinson
1 month ago

i think we’ll be in serious trouble if we dont bring in a veteran edge and DL in some fashion to shore up defense

Dman
Dman
Reply to  parnelldickinson
1 month ago

Exactly. We’re nowhere near a Super Bowl contender with our current D line. Drafting a RB and Punter when the DL is so thin was stupid. We need help at both DT and Edge. And LB to help LVD if he gets injured. Defensive roster has a long way to go.

Alldaway 2.0
Alldaway 2.0
Reply to  parnelldickinson
1 month ago

I agree that more vets are needed to be brought into the fold on the defensive side of the ball.

WVBuc
WVBuc
1 month ago

I’d like to see Suh resigned if not the others too but not until August. I like that the younger guys are being expected to step forward. The leadership that Suh, JPP and Minter have provided is valuable on gameday and week to week during the season. The players mentoring under them need room to grow and keeping these guys sidelined for a bit is a positive.