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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.

Bucs NT Vita Vea

Bucs NT Vita Vea – Photo by: USA Today

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.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

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: sr@pewterreport.com
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ScottC543
5 months ago

Of course.

WeAretheChamps2002+2021
5 months ago

This man deserves a long-term deal. Sign him for a four year extension which would put him through age 31.

Naplesfan
Reply to  WeAretheChamps2002+2021
5 months ago

That would be a dumb waste of valuable salary cap money. You ALWAYS want to sign players up on fifth year options unless you want to just let them go.
Salary management in the NFL is a zero sum game, by its very definition. Every dollar paid to player A is a dollar you can’t pay to player B.
The Bucs have been doing an excellent, above average job of managing the salary cap for years – which is how you win a Super Bowl in 2021, and how you win another Super Bowl in 2022, and …

WeAretheChamps2002+2021
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 months ago

How is that a dumb waste of valuable salary cap money?

Buc76
5 months ago

You have to hand it to Licht for this pick. He’s the best pick at that position across the whole league.

Hockey Duckie
Reply to  Buc76
5 months ago

You mean Mike Smith. In a Mike Smith defense, safeties are used in a very traditional manner of playing back, but there is a need for huge DT’s. In 2017, GMC and Gholston were asked to gain 10 pounds, but Gholston couldn’t stop at 10 and went over 300 pounds, which slowed his game down. At 12th overall in the 2018 draft, we had a choice between multi-use S Derwin James or NT Vita Vea. Licht did something out of the ordinary, which is to draft a player for scheme with Vea. Unfortunately, Licht went back to his BPA philosophy… Read more »

drdneast
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
5 months ago

Hockey Duckie, what in the world are your talking about and trying to say?

gcolerick
Reply to  drdneast
5 months ago

Thank you ….it’s not just me. That was a head scratcher.

Bradenton BucFan
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
5 months ago

Yea, but Smitty was bad coach, I think vita was both BPA & scheme fit, also guys his size & agility fit any scheme. Licht has made some boneheaded picks.

drdneast
Reply to  Bradenton BucFan
5 months ago

He has indeed. Especially his 2016 draft. But he has reversed course since then and his FA pickups outside of the ones orchestrated by Lovie Smith have been sound except for Swaggy Baker. His trades have been exceptional for the player received versus the pick given. We absolutely stole JPP and the Gronk.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
5 months ago

All of the Florida State homers who said Derwin over Vita look stupid af now.

Dman
Reply to  Buc76
5 months ago

…. And our former Buc coach Jimmy Lake up at Washington….

Naplesfan
5 months ago

Vea had a lot to do with our Super Bowl run. Glad to see this no-brainer deal done. Getting him at a below market rate on a fifth year option is how you keep a great team together as long as possible.

drdneast
5 months ago

Good man that Vita Vea. Just proves what I have been trying to pound into peoples heads out here for years. If you want a better pass defense, draft better up front so they can pressure and harass the QB.

Buc76
5 months ago

You can try to deny Licht credit. I was Anti Licht for a long time but when you win the Super Bowl all that goes out the window. Licht got Arians to come here, drafted pretty well the last few years, then Tom Brady. How can anyone trash Licht at this point.

plopes808
5 months ago

Was there ever a doubt? He’s missed some time, but the other option at the time (D James) has missed plenty of time as well, and wouldn’t have had the impact Vea does

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