For this weekend’s Pewter Report Roundtable, the crew tackles another tough question. This week’s prompt: Bucs Mount Rushmore – Current Roster.
All of the Pewter Reporters unanimously agree that Lavonte David, Mike Evans and Tom Brady comprise three of the four current players on the mythical Bucs Mount Rushmore. So we’ll be debating who is the fourth and final current Buccaneer to be included.
Scott Reynolds: Wirfs’ Career Is Off To A Legendary Start
This is an interesting topic because each of us are going to pick the same three players – Mike Evans, Lavonte David and Tom Brady – for Bucs Mount Rushmore. But who is that fourth player? That’s certainly not so obvious. There are quite a few other great Tampa Bay players on the current roster. The one I’m going to choose is one of the newest ones – right tackle Tristan Wirfs.
Bucs RT Tristan Wirfs – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Wirfs made his first Pro Bowl and was named first-team All-Pro in just his second season in the league. That’s an incredible feat. And there is more coming his way as long as he stays healthy. Not even the legendary Paul Gruber, who is in the Bucs Ring of Honor, received any of those league honors. Former Bucs linemen Davin Joseph and Donald Penn each made a pair of Pro Bowls. Long-time center Tony Mayberry is the most decorated Bucs linemen with three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1997-99.
Unfortunately, Wirfs showed how important he is to the team when he wasn’t available in the NFC Divisional Playoffs against the Rams. Wirfs suffered a severe ankle sprain and that negatively affected the Bucs offense, which only produced three points in the first half of the 30-27 loss. If Wirfs plays perhaps Brady is pressured less and the Bucs win. I’ve already gone on record as saying Wirfs is already the most talented offensive lineman in Tampa Bay history. He’ll be a Hall of Famer at this rate. Put him up there on Bucs Mount Rushmore with Brady, Evans and David from this current roster.
Matt Matera: Barrett Smashes Records And Comes Up In Huge Moments
Shaq Barrett is entering his fourth year with the Bucs. In his three seasons prior, he has emphatically made his presence felt in more ways than one. There are other players on this team that are more tenured than Barrett. But for his production and place in team history, Barrett claims the fourth spot on this list behind Tom Brady, Mike Evans and Lavonte David.
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Barrett coming to Tampa Bay before the 2019 season will go down as one of the greatest free agent signings in Bucs history. He made an immediate impact with a league-leading 19.5 sacks, breaking the franchise record. It would be extremely difficult to top that, and though Barrett recorded eight sacks in 2020, he saved his best for the playoffs at the end of the Bucs’ Super Bowl run.
He had a hat trick of sacks in the NFC Championship, and then tallied another one in the Super Bowl along with a sensational 10 pressures. Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul changed that Super Bowl with their ability to create pressure with a four-man pass rush. You could argue that Barrett was the best player in that game. He followed that up with a 10-sack Pro Bowl season, plus an interception in the playoffs against the Eagles. With JPP gone this year, Barrett can further carve out his Bucs legacy with both on-field production. And being a mentor to Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and the other young pass rushers that Tampa Bay has.
JC Allen: Gronkowski’s Greatness Deserves A Place On Bucs Mount Rushmore
While Rob Gronkowski is not technically on the Bucs roster right now, that’s just a formality. In his two seasons in Tampa Bay there is no doubting the impact Gronk has had on the organization, especially on the field. Whether it’s as a receiver or a “blocking tight end,” he has been a major part of the Bucs success. His two “tuddie” performance in the Super Bowl helped propel the Bucs to their second championship. He’s the greatest tight end of all time, and when you have player that distinguished on you team he belongs on a Mount Rushmore list.
Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Gronk currently sits eighth all-time in yards at the position with 1,425, but with a season like he had last year he could easily vault near the top of that list. The future Hall of Famer racked up 802 yards in 2021 playing in just 11 games. A repeat of those numbers would move him up to fifth all time. If healthy, it’s likely Gronk is able to stack up more yards in a full season. In fact, a 1,000-yard season would leave him with the third most yards in Bucs history behind only Jimmie Giles and Cam Brate.
The 12-year veteran also has the fifth-most touchdowns for a tight end in franchise history at 13. He’ll easily surpass O.J. Howard at 15, but catching up to Brate (33) and Giles (34) is likely out of reach. However, he could move into third all-time, passing Dave Moore (24) with a strong season finding the end zone. Finishing 2021 with an 86.7 receiving grade from Pro Football Focus, Gronkowski is still a legitimate weapon in the passing game. Gronk’s also an instrumental part of the Bucs offense as one of the best blocking tight ends in the game. He’s a dangerous component to the offense and Tom Brady’s go-to guy in tough spots and rounds out my Bucs Mount Rushmore.
Josh Queipo: Shaq Barrett Brings The Pressure
When you build a team, conventional wisdom says you prioritize the quarterback, playmaker, offensive tackle and pass rusher positions. Tom Brady and Mike Evans check off the first two legs of that theory. And as Scott Reynolds argues, Wirfs is in for the tackle slot. But let’s not forget what pass rusher Shaq Barrett has done to help transform this Todd Bowles Bucs defense.
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
When the former Bronco arrived in 2019, Jason Pierre-Paul was recovering from a major offseason injury. Barrett took that opportunity to establish himself as not only the top pass rusher in Tampa Bay, but one of the best in the NFL. He led the team – and the league – with 19.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. That earned him his first of two Pro Bowl berths in Tampa Bay. The last came in 2021 when he had 10 sacks and an interception in helping the Bucs win a franchise-best 13 games.
Barrett creates consistent pressure that throws forces opposing offenses change their game plans. He has averaged 12.5 sacks per season since arriving in Tampa Bay. His ability to create a consistent pass rush has helped elevate the entire defense behind him. A pass rush is consistent to success in today’s NFL and Barrett is the lone established pass rusher on the Bucs defense. For this reason, he should be the fourth bust on the team’s current Mount Rushmore.
Bailey Adams: Doubling Up On The Receiver Position With Chris Godwin
I love this question because it has so many potential answers. There are a couple of guys in the mix from the offensive line, perhaps a couple from the front seven and maybe even one or two from the secondary. All things considered, my answer might’ve been Ali Marpet had he not retired. The former Hobart star was a crucial piece of the puzzle from day one in 2015. Then, he served as a central figure in Tampa Bay’s success over the last two seasons and finally got the recognition (and the Super Bowl ring) he long deserved just before riding off into the sunset. So, now that I’ve spent so much time telling you who I considered and why, let’s get down to my actual answer. Chris Godwin deserves his place on the Mount Rushmore of the Bucs’ current roster.
Bucs WRs Chris Godwin and Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I know, I know. Doubling up on receivers in this exercise might feel wasteful. But Godwin is that important. He is so key to what Tampa Bay does on offense. The 2017 third-round pick broke onto the scene in 2018, posting 59 catches for 842 yards and seven touchdowns. He then put together his first Pro Bowl season in 2019, catching 86 passes for 1,333 yards and nine scores. Another 840 yards and seven touchdowns followed in 2020 before a 98-catch, 1,103-yard and five-touchdown season last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December. Godwin is the Bucs’ fourth-leading receiver in franchise history with 4,643 yards. His 29 touchdowns rank fifth in team history, and his 342 receptions rank third. He’s already a Buccaneer great. And he just signed for three more years this offseason.
The whole of Godwin’s body of work has been impressive. But it was those 2018 and 2019 seasons that set the stage for the last couple of years. Establishing himself as a stud 1B to Mike Evans’ 1A was key in the biggest free agent acquisition in franchise history. Fellow Mount Rushmore member Tom Brady doesn’t come to Tampa Bay without the attraction of having Evans and Godwin as his top two receivers. And the workhorse attitude we’ve seen from Godwin, as well as his impressive production, has only continued with the greatest of all time under center. It’s only right, then, that Godwin makes it two receivers in the Mount Rushmore of current Bucs.