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The Bucs ended a five-year streak of last-place finishes in the NFC South with a 9-7 record and wound up in second place in the division in Dirk Koetter’s first season as head coach in Tampa Bay. It was the second-best record ever by a first-year Bucs coach, following only Jon Gruden’s 12-4 record and Super Bowl championship in 2002.

Now that PewterReport.com has dished out its awards for the 2016 Buccaneers MVPs, Rookie of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year, it’s time to hand out some more player awards. Before we turn the page on the 2016 campaign and look ahead to 2017, PewterReport.com reviews the individual efforts from the Buccaneers’ performances in its 2016 Pewter Player Awards.

MOST IMPROVED OFFENSIVE PLAYER
TE Cam Brate
No ASJ, no problem. After the Buccaneers released Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a second-round pick in 2014, all was not lost at the tight end position with Brate emerging as a real weapon in his third year in the league. In fact, it was even better as Brate proved to be more reliable from a health and a hands standpoint while catching 57 passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns in a breakout season for the Harvard tight end. Brate tied Jimmie Giles’ franchise record for a tight end and his eight scores were the most among NFL tight ends. Brate, who had the second-most catches in Tampa Bay this season behind Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans, showed the most improvement from a year ago when he caught 23 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. In 2016 Brate proved he was capable of being an elite tight end in the league and that bodes well for the future of Tampa Bay’s offense due to his improvement.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 RB Doug Martin
2014 TE Luke Stocker
2013 RT Demar Dotson
2012 WR Mike Williams
2011 WR Dezmon Briscoe
2010 WR Micheal Spurlock
2009 WR Maurice Stovall
2008 TE Jerramy Stevens
2007 RB Earnest Graham
2006 No Buccaneer was deemed worthy
2005 QB Chris Simms
2004 RB Michael Pittman
2003 WR Charles Lee
2002 RB Michael Pittman
2001 LT Kenyatta Walker
2000 OT Jerry Wunsch
1999 WR Jacquez Green
1998 WR Reidel Anthony
1997 QB Trent Dilfer
1996* TE Dave Moore

MOST IMPROVED DEFENSIVE PLAYER
S Keith Tandy
Tandy was a backup for most of the season and only entered the starting lineup after Chris Conte suffered a chest injury against Seattle in Week 12. Yet in six starts he amassed 40 of his career-high 57 tackles and all four of his interceptions, which was tied for the team lead. Once Conte was healthy he split time with Bradley McDougald at safety – not Tandy, who didn’t miss a snap down the stretch. Tandy had game-clinching interceptions in back-to-back victories at San Diego and against New Orleans, and there wasn’t a more improved defender in Tampa Bay. In just six games at the end of the 2016 campaign the instinctive Tandy went from career backup to starting safety heading into 2017.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 DE Will Gholston
2014 LB Danny Lansanah
2013 DT Gerald McCoy
2012 DT Gerald McCoy
2011 DE Michael Bennett
2010 CB E.J. Biggers
2009 LB Geno Hayes
2008 SS Sabby Piscitelli
2007 SS Jermaine Phillips
2006 CB Phillip Buchanon
2005 FS Will Allen
2004 DE Dewayne White
2003 LB Ryan Nece
2002 CB Brian Kelly
2001 DE Simeon Rice
2000 LB Jamie Duncan
1999 DE Marcus Jones
1998 CB Ronde Barber
1997 DE Chidi Ahanotu
1996* DT Warren Sapp

Bucs RB Doug Martin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER – OFFENSE
RB Doug Martin
After signing a five-year, $35.75-million contract in the offseason, Martin was a huge disappointment in 2016, turning in his third sub-500-yard rushing season in the last four years. This coming off a 1,402-yard season in 2015 that landed him that big contract extension as the league’s second-leading rusher. A hamstring injury in Week 2 caused him to miss six games and his addiction problems and positive test for Adderall prompted him to miss the final two games. When on the field, Martin wasn’t even average, rushing for 2.9 yards per carry and failing to break off a run of 20 yards or more despite 144 carries. Martin, who is facing a three-game suspension to start the 2017 season, is easily the most disappointing player on Tampa Bay’s offense, and his future with the Buccaneers is in doubt.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2014 LT Anthony Collins
2013 QB Josh Freeman
2012 RB LeGarrette Blount
2011 QB Josh Freeman
2010 WR Sammie Stroughter
2009 WR Michael Clayton
2008 WR Dexter Jackson
2007 QB Bruce Gradkowski
2006 RB Cadillac Williams
2005* WR Michael Clayton

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER – DEFENSE
CB Alterraun Verner
Verner had a great start to the 2016 offseason as a starting cornerback opposite Brent Grimes, but quickly lost his job to rookie Vernon Hargreaves III during the preseason. Verner, who made $6.75 million last year, didn’t even see much action as the team’s nickel cornerback as that duty went to Jude Adjei-Barimah and rookie Javien Elliott. Verner only had 16 tackles and one interception, which came against Seattle, and was relegated to special teams duty. For such a highly-paid player Verner didn’t make much of an impact at all on defense and couldn’t steal any playing time away from the rookie. Due to his salary cap value/playing time matrix, Verner, who happens to be a heck of a nice guy and a great teammate, was the most disappointing player on the Bucs defense.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 CB Johnthan Banks
2014 CB Alterraun Verner
2013 DE Da’Quan Bowers
2012 CB Aqib Talib
2011 SS Sean Jones
2010 DE Kyle Moore
2009 DT Chris Hovan
2008 DT Jovan Haye
2007 DE Greg Spires
2006* FS Will Allen

Bucs CB Brent Grimes – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

BEST FREE AGENT ACQUISITION
CB Brent Grimes
Grimes came to Tampa Bay with previous playing experience in Mike Smith’s defense from his days in Atlanta, and that really paid off a banner first season with the Buccaneers. Grimes was a wire-to-wire starter in Tampa Bay, recording 57 tackles, a forced fumble and four interceptions, which tied for the team lead. Grimes got better as the season went on, recording a pivotal pick-six in the Bucs’ 17-16 season-ending win against the Carolina Panthers. Grimes led the NFL with 24 pass breakups, which earned him Pro Bowl alternate honors.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 C Joe Hawley
2014 DT Clinton McDonald
2013 CB Darrelle Revis
2012 WR Vincent Jackson
2011 P Michael Koenen
2010 SS Sean Jones
2009 K Connor Barth
2008 C Jeff Faine
2007 FB B.J. Askew
2006* DT Jovan Haye

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR
DE Robert Ayers, Jr.
Ayers became an inspirational force for the Buccaneers on defense, bringing a nasty demeanor from New York and registering 29 tackles and 6.5 sacks, which was the second-most on the team. Ayers rushed the quarterback from both the defensive end position and inside at defensive tackle in nickel rush situations. He also recorded his first career safety when he sacked Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler in the end zone and forced a fumble. Ayers missed four games due to a high ankle sprain, which cut into his productivity. If healthy for 16 games next year Ayers could be Tampa Bay’s first double-digit sacker since Simeon Rice in 2005.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 MLB Kwon Alexander
2014 DE Jacquies Smith
2013 CB Darrelle Revis
2012 RB Doug Martin
2011 MLB Mason Foster
2010 RB LeGarrette Blount
2009 TE Kellen Winslow
2008 DE Jimmy Wilkerson
2007 LG Arron Sears
2006 RT Jeremy Trueblood
2005 DT Chris Hovan
2004 QB Brian Griese
2003* RB Thomas Jones

Bucs RB Jacquizz Rodgers – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

UNSUNG PLAYER OF THE YEAR
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
With Doug Martin and Charles Sims injured an ineffective for much of the season with each averaging 2.9 yards per carry, Rodgers was the Bucs’ savior in the running game. Signed just after the start of the 2016 campaign, the former Atlanta running back reunited with Dirk Koetter and emerged as Tampa Bay’s leading rusher with 560 yards and two touchdowns despite only starting five games. Rodgers averaged 4.3 yards per carry and had a team-high four runs of 20 yards or more. The diminutive rusher also posted Tampa Bay’s only two 100-yard outings with 101 against Carolina on Monday Night Football and 154 yards at San Francisco. Expect Rodgers, who signed a one-year deal this past year with the Bucs, to be re-signed this offseason. His signing last year saved Tampa Bay’s ground game.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 RB Charles Sims
2014 CB Johnthan Banks
2013 DT Akeem Spence
2012 DE Daniel Te’o-Nesheim
2011 WR Preston Parker
2010 C Jeremy Zuttah
2009 CB Aqib Talib
2008 LB Derrick Brooks
2007 LT Donald Penn
2006 LB Shelton Quarles
2005 K Matt Bryant
2004 LB Ian Gold
2003 C John Wade
2002 LB Shelton Quarles
2001 FB Jameel Cook
2000 LS Morris Unutoa
1999 DT Brad Culpepper
1998 DT Brad Culpepper
1997 C Tony Mayberry
1996* P Tommy Barnhardt

MOST INSPIRATIONAL PLAYER
QB Jameis Winston
Winston, who was PewterReport.com’s 2016 Bucs Co-MVP with Mike Evans, stepped up his leadership in a big-time way during his second NFL season. Aside from being a positive force on the field and in the locker room, Winston crafted a handwritten letter that he read to the team after the Bucs’ 43-28 loss against the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football. The players say that heartfelt note about playing together as a family helped spur the team’s five-game winning streak that propelled Tampa Bay to an 8-5 record and a 9-7 finish.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 QB Jameis Winston
2014 LB Danny Lansanah
2013 RG Davin Joseph
2012 DE Michael Bennett
2011 DT Brian Price
2010 LB Adam Hayward
2009 RB Cadillac Williams
2008 K Matt Bryant
2007 DT Jovan Haye
2006 QB Tim Rattay
2005* FB Mike Alstott

Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

MOST OVERRATED PLAYER
K Roberto Aguayo
Did Bucs general manager Jason Licht make a huge mistake when he traded up into the second round to draft Aguayo, one of the most accurate kickers in NCAA history? The jury is still out, but Aguayo had a shaky debut to his NFL career, connecting on just 71 percent of his field goals. Aguayo wasn’t able to connect on a field goal longer than 43 yards, but did nail his first and only game-winner in Tampa Bay’s win at Carolina on Monday Night Football. Aguayo had a nice 10-game stretch in which he showed he could make 87.5 percent of his field goals, but ended the season on a sour note, going 1-of-3 against the Panthers where he suffered his first blocked kick in the NFL. Aguayo shouldn’t have been drafted in the second round, and his limited success during his rookie year makes him the Bucs’ most overrated player.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 DE George Johnson
2014 DE Michael Johnson
2013 LT Donald Penn
2012 CB Eric Wright
2011 LB Geno Hayes
2010 RT Jeremy Trueblood
2009 RB Derrick Ward
2008 QB Jeff Garcia
2007 DE Patrick Chukwurah
2006 WR Michael Clayton
2005 DT Anthony McFarland
2004 K Martin Gramatica
2003 DT Warren Sapp
2002 QB Rob Johnson
2001 DT Warren Sapp
2000 DE Chidi Ahanotu
1999 WR Reidel Anthony
1998* QB Trent Dilfer

JOHN LYNCH GENTLEMAN’S AWARD (BEST INTERVIEW)
WR Mike Evans
Evans was not only a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver, he really opened up this year and made himself readily available to the media in the open locker room sessions during the week at One Buccaneer Place in addition to after games – win or lose. Evans has always been a candid, well-spoken individual, but deserves a lot of credit for not ducking the media after his controversial stance of sitting down for the National Anthem before the team’s win over the Chicago Bears. He was accountable and handled the situation with grace and class after apologizing for not standing for the Star Spangled Banner.
PREVIOUS RECIPIENTS:
2015 C Joe Hawley
2014 OT Demar Dotson
2013 DT Gerald McCoy
2012 DT Roy Miller
2011 RG Davin Joseph
2010 DT Gerald McCoy
2009 DE Jimmy Wilkerson
2008 DE Stylez G. White
2007 QB Luke McCown
2006 DT Chris Hovan
2005 CB Ronde Barber
2004 SS Dwight Smith
2003 OT Kenyatta Walker
2002 LT Lomas Brown
2001 WR Keyshawn Johnson
2000 RB Warrick Dunn
1999 SS John Lynch
1998* SS John Lynch

BEST PLAY OF THE YEAR
Jameis Winston’s 40-yard pass to Mike Evans vs. Chicago
The key play in Tampa Bay’s 2016 season was an improbable improvisational scramble by Winston in which he was almost sacked four times, including once in the end zone for a safety, before finding Evans for a gain of 40 yards. With the Bucs’ lead trimmed to 17-10 right before halftime due to a Bears’ Hail Mary touchdown, Tampa Bay regained momentum with Winston’s daring scramble and downfield heave, which set up a 43-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Martino on the next play. That score put the Bucs up 24-10 and they never looked back en route to a 36-10 route of the Bears.

*Indicates the first year that the award was given by PewterReport.com (formerly known as Buccaneer Magazine and BucMag.com in the 1990s)

BUCS’ RECORD NEXT YEAR – 10-6
Tampa Bay will again face a challenging schedule in 2017, as the NFC South teams have to face the NFC North and the AFC East. There are five playoff teams on the schedule next year, including three of the final four teams left in the postseason – Green Bay, New England and Atlanta (twice).

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The only “easy” team on the Bucs’ schedule appears to be Chicago, which lost 36-10 this year at Tampa Bay and finished 3-13. The 5-11 New York Jets are also on the docket, but the 2-14 San Francisco 49ers don’t make a return appearance on the 2017 schedule.

The Bucs ended the 2016 season with a 9-7 record and had a second-place finish in the rugged NFC South division, the team’s best showing since 2010. Tampa Bay missed the playoffs by one game this season, and it’s reasonable to conclude that another year’s worth of experience for the young stars on this team, in addition to the new players the Bucs will add through free agency and the draft. PewterReport.com forecasted a 9-7 record prior to the start of the 2016 campaign, and that’s exactly what Tampa Bay finished with. Winning one more game and getting to 10 wins in 2017 seems quite reasonable and doable.

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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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Buc 1976
4 years ago

Happy to see Tandy finally get his chance!
In years past when he was in games he would always seem to be around the ball.
When the Bucs drafted him and I read what is degree was I thought this kid must be smart.
Happy to see Breat have the year he had he should only get better.

chetthevette
4 years ago

Good Choices all around Scott. In your MVP column you had co winners Winston and Evans.
I would like to argue that Brian Anger should share with Grimes best Free Agent. Grimes was fantastic for sure, But Anger Management was equally awesome.
Looking at the past choices was fun. especially the most disappointing.
Now those players are a true “basket of deplorable’s”.
GO BUCS

Naplesfan
4 years ago

I’d like to suggest to Scott that he’s remiss in not awarding anything to Vernon Hargreaves III – who was named yesterday by the Pro Football Writers to their All-Rookie Team for 2016. I think VHIII was way more valuable than he is given credit here by Scott. In the second half of the season, quarterbacks seemed to stop throwing at him altogether, one of the reasons that Grimes achieved his league-leading 24 passes defensed (certainly not the only factor, or the main factor … but if they’re not throwing at VHIII then somebody is going to have more passes… Read more »

cgmaster27
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 years ago

Agreed on some of your post , but VHJ3 was average at best this year. He led the team in targets , receptions given up, and allowed 6 TD’s on top of almost 1000 yards receiving to opposing WR. I know rookie DB is hard to adjust so I can’t knock the guy too much, but he didn’t have a very good year this year.

Naplesfan
Reply to  cgmaster27
4 years ago

That was in the first half of the season as he was figuring out the NFL game. The entire defense, for that matter, totally sucked in the first half of this season, all across all units. As well as Grimes played, most of his stats were earned in the second half of the season as he learned the Smith system and his fellow players … in fact I remember reading a crap load of comments here on PR in the first half of the season complaining that Grimes was another Licht FA bust. Similar rants were common on other members… Read more »

cgmaster27
4 years ago

These awards are right on the money. Brent Grimes was exceptional this year and Ayers, once he came back, gave this defensive line the attitude it needed. Need a lot of depth and some skill p[layers on offense but this off season should be great. As for next year I could see 10-6 with a possible 11-5, all depending on how the off season goes of course.

Horse
4 years ago

Scott, I’m going to be at Marriott Santiago Chile Hotel in10 days. I looked at it on line and it’s pretty nice. One of our friends who has stayed there said it was a very nice Hotel.

chetthevette
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

You might not want to come back after you have been to Chile.
GO BUCS

Horse
Reply to  chetthevette
4 years ago

Going eventually end up in Buenos Aires. Trip also includes Antarctica.

chetthevette
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Best steak I’ve ever eaten was in Argentina, those people are serious carnivores.
Have a blast.
GO BUCS

drdneast
4 years ago

Since we are announcing our vacation plans, I will be going to Daytona Beach and spending 3 days and two nights at the beautiful Roomba Inn as I attend the 24 Hours of Daytona. I have been attending the twice around he clock since 1972 nd have seen some of the best drivers in the world including AJ Foyt, Mario Andrettit, Jackie Ickx, Hans Stuck, Peter Gregg and Hurley Heywood practice their craft. AJ Foyt actually waved back at me on the banked tri oval going around 180 mph. Now on to the Bucs. You know its time to go… Read more »

chetthevette
Reply to  drdneast
4 years ago

Patrick Chukwurah.
From day one he was the biggest dumb ass ever free agent. And that’s hard to do with theat list of boobs.
LMFAO, “did ne drop the plaque” outstanding DRD.
GO BUCS

scubog
4 years ago

Not sure what prompted the vacation discussion, but I’m happy for Horse getting to visit South America and Antarctica. Dr.D’s trip across the state to watch the cars go round and round isn’t as exotic, but I expect he’ll enjoy it just as much when a few of the ladies show off their maracas .

rymuss07
4 years ago

Great article Scott! I would agree with every award and everything you said except one thing. I believe the Bucs will go 11-5 with losses to the Packers, Patriots, Atlanta once, Saints once and either the Lions or Giants depending on which game is home and which is away. If they both are away, I think the Bucs would have it easier in Detroit than in NY.

plopes808
4 years ago

I agree 100% with this entire list

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