The Bucs retained their top cornerback in free agency, re-signing Carlton Davis III on a 3-year deal worth $45 million. Davis will earn an average of $15 million per year. That makes him the ninth-highest paid cornerback in the league according to OverTheCap.com.

Tampa Bay risked losing him on the free agent market by not using the franchise tag on him. But when the team couldn’t come to terms with Chris Godwin, the Bucs had to use the tag on their star wide receiver for a second straight year.

That meant Davis would hit free agency and the Bucs could be left with a major hole in their secondary. Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting would have been the starters in 2022, heading into their contract seasons. Neither is as good as Davis, and one or both might not be re-signed after the 2022 campaign.

Now that Davis is back, Tampa Bay’s top trio of cornerbacks will start together for one more season. That’s one less major hole for general manager Jason Licht to fill, and for head coach Bruce Arians to worry about.

Davis was considered the second or third-best free agent cornerback available. New England’s J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers on a 5-year, $82.5 million contract. After Jackson, Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore or Davis were the most sought after cornerbacks on the market.

Bucs Played CB Market Perfectly

The Bucs had some concerns about how much to pay Davis. If used, the franchise tag guaranteed him $17.287 million in 2022. Tampa Bay felt like that was too much to pay for a cornerback with some unanswered questions. Davis missed 14 games in his career due to injury, including seven last year with a quad injury. He has yet to start every game in any NFL season.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III

Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

There was also the issue of Davis’ playmaking ability to consider. Davis didn’t get his first career interception until late in his second year. Then he had four in 2020 while helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. But in 10 games last season, he only produced one interception and dropped several others. Is Davis a one-interception cornerback or a multi-interception guy? Cornerbacks who get multiple picks go to Pro Bowls and earn more money.

Davis, a second-round pick of the Bucs in 2018, has been a four-year starter and the team’s top cover cornerback. In his time with Tampa Bay, Davis started 50 games and recorded 207 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 52 pass breakups, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. Davis’ best season came in 2020 when he led the team with four interceptions, which was a career high.

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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]
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Captain Sly
Captain Sly
3 months ago

Wow! The hits keep on coming. I was concerned that this would be a problem when we didn’t tag him. Glad to see the band getting back together for one last tour.

Lawdy
Lawdy
3 months ago

i guess the bucs think that cappa is more easily replaceable than davis, which is probably right

SCLOBERNOCKER
SCLOBERNOCKER
Reply to  Lawdy
3 months ago

100%. Cappa is good and really progressed, but even in general terms, G is always easier to replace than a #1 CB

chefboho
chefboho
3 months ago

Heck of a crazy two days. Keeping the boys together is huge and signing davis and Jensen really opens up the draft for this team. G, dline, and Wr are the top priorities to me

Eddie
Eddie
3 months ago

Too bad Sean M Bunting aka the human toast is still on the roster.

WVBuc
WVBuc
Reply to  Eddie
3 months ago

Let’s cut the man some slack after playing all but a few plays in 2021 with significant injuries. The human time to heal in the real world is always longer than the NFL time to return to the field. Even with Tordol, injuries SMB experienced last year are definite drains on ability. He may not be fully healed even yet.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  WVBuc
3 months ago

Good point.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Eddie
3 months ago

I’m no big fan of Bunting’s but I’m less a fan of yours with such an unimaginative mind.
Toast is such an old and overused term, can’t you do any better.
Bunting had a great playoff series on the way to the SB but his coverage wasn’t as good last season. He made up for it with poor tackling.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  drdneast
3 months ago

Sounds like an old John McKay type quote. “Couldn’t cover, but made up for it by not tackling”. Funny! Guess we could use that for a lot of things.

WVBuc
WVBuc
3 months ago

Ryan Jensen and Carlton Davis are each among the evidence that makes me skeptical of what kind of teammate Chris Godwin is in general. He’s a hard working, causes no problems player with a mercenary heart. One who won’t be a Buccaneer next season (2023) unless he has a grinch-like transition. Every main free agent retained has been given a contact within market parameters without going overboard. They are giving a little? Maybe and maybe not. At $13 million, Jensen is again among the highest compensated at his position. Davis at the 9th best CB contract is overpaid in my… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  WVBuc
3 months ago

These athletes are professionals working in a capitalist system. Not only that but they are plying their trade in a true meritocrisy system, unlike the business world where often times promotions and raises are given out to nomimal performers because they are the bosses freind or a great ass kisser.
To say they aren’t good Bucs because they might make a million or two more than “you” think they should is hilarious. Grow up or just comment on high school ball where you won’t sound like such a rube.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  drdneast
3 months ago

Being a friend or an ass-kisser will only get someone so far. Eventually they have to produce. When you’re one of the top 50 people in the world at any profession, chances are you’ll be rewarded. No one ever cares what actors and rock stars earn, because it’s not so publicized.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  WVBuc
3 months ago

None of Godwin’s teammates have ever had anything but great things to say about Godwin.

The fact that the team was unable to come to a long term contract agreement before the start of free agency says exactly nothing about Godwin as a teammate, or the Bucs as an NFL team. It’s just negotiations, and sometimes they go quickly and sometimes they don’t.

fredster
fredster
3 months ago

This was an absolute must. They sucked at CB with him. Without him they had shit.

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  fredster
3 months ago

Gee fredster, you are more eloquent than ever.

fredster
fredster
Reply to  drdneast
3 months ago

Hey I tell it how it is and don’t sugar coat. I’m impressed you managed to not to show your Trump Psychosis lately and spew a bunch of political garbage on a football website.

Dman
Dman
3 months ago

Outstanding!!! Now go get Whitehead!!!

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  Dman
3 months ago

Whitehead is next! Second best corner on team. The guy brings it!

spartan
spartan
3 months ago

I have to be concerned where all this money is coming from. Working “salary cap magic” is one thing, but it really seems like we are robbing peter to pay paul and it’s going to be really, really painful not too far down the line. Anyone say New Orleans?

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
3 months ago

Gee, it was only a few days ago when our resident Greatest NFL Genius of All Time (GNGOAT) at PR, Jon Ledyard, ranted about how stupid the Bucs were for tagging Godwin because that was surely going to result in losing Davis who would not play for whatever piddling amount the Bucs could pay him, but wasn’t really worth it anyway … but no matter what the Bucs did a very stupid thing .. or whatever.

Guess maybe the Bucs brain trust actually has more brains than Jon Ledyard – what a shocker!

Last edited 3 months ago by Naplesfan
Horse
Horse
3 months ago

Glad to hear we signed him. Still bothered we didn’t sign Cappa. I guess they are okay with the replacements for him and Marpet; that’s some high expectations.

pinkstob
pinkstob
3 months ago

Dammit! This isn’t surprising to me, but it frustrates me. We should have signed J.C. Jackson.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  pinkstob
3 months ago

I was hoping we would sign him instead of Davis lll. Just thought a change of scenery would do both parties good. Oh well.. Brady is back!

fredster
fredster
3 months ago

Signing Davis was a must. They still need to do something else either draft or free agency at CB. Even if David, SMB and Dean can play a season without being hurt Dean and especially SMB haven’t proven they can be consistent performers either.