The Bucs offensive line is undergoing some changes this offseason. The retirement of Ali Marpet and departure of Alex Cappa in free agency sent Bucs GM Jason Licht into overdrive. After trading for right guard Shaq Mason to fill one spot, Licht re-signed Aaron Stinnie to compete for the left guard role. But Stinnie won’t be handed the job, as several challengers await the veteran in camp.
One of those competitors will be second-year lineman Robert Hainsey. Speaking at the NFL annual meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, Licht confirmed Hainsey will push Stinnie for playing time.
“He’ll definitely compete for [the starting left guard spot],” Licht said. “We love versatility. We’ll work those guys in multiple spots throughout camp. It’s always good to have guys that can fill multiple roles. Versatility, once again, is key. So he’ll definitely be in the mix.”
Tampa Bay drafted Hainsey out of Notre Dame in the third round last year. He mostly played right tackle in college. But the 23-year old started to show versatility when he attended the Reese’s Senior Bowl, where he practiced at both guard and center. The Bucs cited that versatility as one of the reasons they selected him. But Hainsey worked mostly at center during training camp, with the Bucs grooming him as their No. 2 snapper.
Bucs OL Robert Hainsey – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Hainsey had few opportunities to play in 2021 as the offensive line was relatively healthy throughout the year. In fact, starting center Ryan Jensen never missed a game. Hainsey ended up playing just 31 offensive snaps late in the season. During that time he did not commit a penalty or have a mis-snap while producing a respectable 65.7 PFF grade.
Given his draft status, it makes sense that the Bucs are looking for Hainsey to compete for the starting guard role. With most of the starting line set with Donovan Smith, Jensen, Mason and Tristan Wirfs, left guard is the clearest path to playing time. Hainsey will be battling a cadre of returning options in Nick Leverett, John Molchon and Sadarius Hutcherson. The team also re-signed Stinnie and signed former Bengal Fred Johnson. I wouldn’t rule out the team adding a rookie to the competition through the draft next month either. But Licht made one thing clear on Monday: Hainsey will have the opportunity to win the job.