The Bucs will pick up the fifth-year option for nose tackle Vita Vea, according to general manager Jason Licht. Vea, Tampa Bay’s first-round draft pick in 2018, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and will now be under contract for the 2022 season. The Bucs have until May to officially pick up Vea’s option year.
“Yes, it’s safe to say that,” Licht said. “He plays a very pivotal role in our defense. When he’s in there a lot of things happen. Not just for him, but everybody else around him.”
Vea, the 12th overall pick in 2018, signed a four-year deal worth $14,824,238 and was fully guaranteed. The 26-year old Vea is set to earn $4,716,803 in 2021 and his fifth-year option will be between $7.3 million and $7.638 million.
Vea has been the team’s starting nose tackle since his arrival in Tampa Bay. He has recorded 73 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 19 QB hits and 7.5 sacks. After starting all 16 games in 2019, Vea suffered a broken ankle in the fifth game last season that forced him to go on injured reserve. Vea started the 2020 campaign hot with 10 tackles and two sacks in five games before his injury.
He diligently rehabbed after surgery and rejoined the team in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LV. Vea pushed the pocket, helping the Bucs defense record five sacks against Green Bay and three against Kansas City.
“The day that we found out that he was going to come back and play was a very big day for all of us,” Licht said. “It was a very exciting day – coaches, scouts, players, owners. We were all excited.”
The Bucs have picked up the fifth-year options for all of Licht’s first-round picks since 2014, including Vernon Hargreaves, the team’s first-round selection in 2016. Although Hargreaves never played that fifth season in Tampa Bay, as he was released during the 2019 season.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th 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 line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org