-The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our Pewter Report Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.
With Mark away on vacation this week, Matt Matera steps in to give his response to each question. You always need good depth.
Question: Who is the one starter in jeopardy of losing their spot?
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Answer: With the amount of talent that the Bucs have on both sides of the ball, there’s really not a starting position that has a question mark based on performance. You’re not going to replace someone like Vita Vea, Devin White or Mike Evans. There could be a changing of the guard on special teams, though, at the punt and kick return position.
WRs Jaydon Mickens and Jaelon Darden – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
The Bucs shuffled through a couple of different returners last year, but the primary man was Jaydon Mickens. He did a solid job averaging 24 yards on kick return and 6.2 yards per punt return on the season. With that said, the Bucs look to have found his replacement when they drafted wide receiver Jaelon Darden with their fourth round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Darden is younger, faster, and has a better ability to make defenders miss. He’s been catching punts and kicks already in OTAs and mini-camp, so he’ll be given every opportunity in training camp. Both players will get to audition for the job, but it looks like it is Darden’s to lose. That would be the most significant change for an important role on the Super Bowl-winning roster.
If I have to choose someone from offense or defense, there’s a case to be made that Ross Cockrell could challenge Sean Murphy-Bunting at slot corner. Cockrell supplemented a struggling Murphy-Bunting during last season and performed adequately. Luckily for the Bucs, Murphy-Bunting regained his form and had a great postseason with three interceptions in four games.
A future starter you could see in 2022 could be Mike Edwards at safety. He won’t beat out Jordan Whitehead this year, but Whitehead is coming off a shoulder injury and is on the last year of his contract. Given Edwards’ progression over two seasons and the amount of free agents Tampa Bay will need to sign, the Bucs could be comfortable inserting Edwards into the lineup if Whitehead gets a lucrative offer somewhere else.
Question: What records could be broken because of the extra game? Are there any receivers with a shot to break Evans record for consecutive 1000-yard season?
Answer: The addition of a 17th game leaves a lot on the table to break more single-season records. That’s just the nature of having another chance to add to your stats. Because the Bucs have such a wealth of great players on offense, each player will have their moment to shine, but no skill player will see the ball enough to break a record. There’s only one ball to go around and everyone will get a piece of the pie. There’s two players that have a good shot at breaking a single-season record this year: Tom Brady and Ryan Succop.
Brady already cemented himself in the Bucs’ history books, breaking a franchise record with 40 touchdown passes. He is second all-time in passing yards with 4,633. The current leader is Jameis Winston when he broke the record in 2018, throwing for 5,109 yards. Brady could have added more to his passing numbers, but he sat in the second half of a blowout win against Detroit when the game was out of hand. He also had two games with less than 200 yards, which dropped his average yards per game to 289.6. If he gets up to 300 he’d be right on track to surpass Winston with the 17th game. Succop also broke a franchise record by scoring 136 points last season. The Bucs averaged 30.8 points per game and could score even more this year. It may lead to Succop breaking his own record.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: USA Today
As for Evans’ record of seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to begin a career – he’s still got time. Many of the best receivers in the NFL have had at least one season where they didn’t reach 1,000 yards, which knocks them off the list. There are only two top level players early in their careers that could give Evans a run for his money down the road. One is A.J. Brown, who has surpassed 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons. The other is Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson, who reached 1,4000 yards in his rookie year. That still gives Evans five years before anyone can tie his record, and he can extend the record even longer if he continues to eclipse the number each season.
Question: Do you see any other RB cracking the top four (Fournette, Jones, Vaughn and Bernard)? Thank you and go Bucs.
Answer: Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II and Giovani Bernard all have solidified roles on the team. The only player that really has to prove himself this training camp would be Ke’Shawn Vaughn, as he’s coming off a shaky rookie season. The other running back currently on the Bucs’ roster is six-year veteran C.J. Prosise and four-year player Troymaine Pope. Out of those two, Prosise would have an outside chance of making the team. He’s had success in the past with the Seahawks, especially during his rookie year when he rushed for 172 yards on 30 attempts and a touchdown while adding 17 catches for 208 yards.
Vaughn would have to have a really bad training camp for this to happen. He’s still just a second-year player and the only running back under contract after this season. Bruce Arians wasn’t happy that Vaughn missed an OTA practice, though, so there’s a window of opportunity for Prosise to make it with a good training camp. I wouldn’t rule out Prosise making the practice squad and getting called up to the roster if another back gets injured during the year.
Question: Could we see Brady as a FO executive? Brady isn’t much a media guy to be an analyst and he loves to study film. His football mind would be invaluable to the team for yrs after he retires.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Answer: Brady still has a while to think about that since he’s playing until his 50. I’m kidding…but am I? Regardless of when he retires, Brady will have a ton of options. However, I don’t think residing in the front office will be the case. He’s already been on the record saying he doesn’t want to coach, so the thought of working in the front office probably doesn’t seem too alluring either.
Brady is already involved in many projects off the field, including his successful TB12 business. He recently launched a new production company as well called “199 Productions,” and has many brands that he advertises for. These endeavors could keep him away as he ventures into and enjoys the other areas of his super stardom. If Brady wants to be involved in the NFL again, some type of ownership stake in a team would probably be most appealing.