FAB 4. Timing Is Right For Gholston To Rebound

Timing – as they say – is everything.

There is good timing and there is bad timing.

Now that he’s making $3.75 million, his smallest salary in three years, seventh-year Bucs defensive end Will Gholston is actually experiencing some great timing right now.

Former Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and DE Will Gholston
Former Bucs DT Gerald McCoy and DE Will Gholston – Photo by: Getty Images

In 2016, Gholston was one of the Bucs best defenders, especially against the run in helping Tampa Bay to a 9-7 season in Dirk Koetter’s first year as head coach. Gholston played well enough to earn a four-year, $27.5 million contract with $13.5 million in guarantees. Unfortunately, Gholston’s production didn’t come close to matching his hefty price tag over the past two years.

We’ve recently seen what happens when the Bucs don’t feel players are playing up to their paychecks. Tampa Bay’s latest salary cap casualty was six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who I’m guessing didn’t accept a pay cut from his $13 million after producing just six sacks last year. The Bucs’ first cap casualty this year was defensive end Vinny Curry, who was due $8 million in 2019 after making $6.5 million last year and recording just 2.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Beau Allen was forced to take a $1 million pay cut down to $4 million this year to stay in Tampa Bay.

Gholston recorded 67 tackles and three sacks in 2015 and 49 tackles and three sacks in 2016, but totaled 46 tackles and one sack over the last two years combined. He had a $7 million cap number in 2017 while recording 36 tackles and no sacks for the first time in his NFL career. Last year, Gholston recorded a career-low 10 tackles and one sack last year and was passed on the depth chart by newcomers Carl Nassib and Curry while having a $6 million cap value.

Bucs DE Will Gholston and OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
Bucs DE Will Gholston and OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

A year ago Gholston might have been the worst value on the team. This year, his smaller cap value likely saved his job – in addition to Tampa Bay switching to a 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. With Curry gone and Nassib moved to outside linebacker, Gholston is penciled in as the starting strongside defensive end

As previously stated, Gholston is experiencing some great timing.

Although he’s listed at 6-foot-6, 281 pounds on Tampa Bay’s roster, Gholston has added some weight necessary to play the 3-4 defensive end role, and has impressed head coach Bruce Arians.

“He’s in a natural position for him,” Arians said. “He can gain a little weight now and use his length. But he’s as steady and consistent as we have.”

New Bucs special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong singled out Gholston back at his introductory press conference with the media months ago, noting his kick-blocking experience. Gholston has blocked four kicks in Tampa Bay, including two in 2017.

“Field goal block – [they] did a nice job there with the field goal block stuff,” Armstrong said. “You had to know where 92 Gholston was. You had to protect against that.”

At age 27, Gholston is in phenomenal shape and is ready to get back to making an impact in run defense this year and blocking kicks on special teams.

Bucs DE William Gholston
Bucs DE William Gholston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I’m playing where they tell me to play – any of those interior positions I’m ready to go,” Gholston said. “It’s kind of easier with a little more weight. I’m about 306, 308. It’s more comfortable for me for sure. I just have to stay consistent with my craft and just being a good vet and a good pro and showing the younger guys how to do things – and doing the things I’m supposed to do.”

Gholston’s playing time will likely increase in 2019, and even if he doesn’t light up the stats sheet by doing the dirty work of taking on tight end and tackle double teams, freeing up Nassib and others to make plays in the backfield. After two years of underwhelming play and being overpaid, Gholston’s salary and his role in Bowles’ attacking style of defense seem just right in 2019.

“Guys are just making plays all over the field in this defense – the whole time this spring,” Gholston said. “Up front we’re staying in our gap and penetrating. Schematically, it’s simple for us to do, but I think it will be hard for [our opponents] to pick up. And there are a lot of guys on our D-line that will command a double team, that’s for sure. I think it will open things up for our linebackers whether we are five [linemen] down and two [linebackers] up, or with the safeties and corners rolling. I’m excited about it.”

Not only is Gholston is excited about his role in Bowles’ defense, he’s also excited about his new teammate, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

“That’s what you need on defense – you need somebody that is nasty, that is aggressive and that is mean,” Gholston said. “When the marquee guy plays like that it rubs off on everyone else.”

Bucs DTs Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea
Bucs DTs Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Gholston believes that Suh will serve as a great role model for Vita Vea, who enters his second year on a high note after finishing his rookie campaign with three sacks down the stretch.

“Think about having that nasty temperament next to you if you’re Vita, man,” Gholston said. “Two really big, strong, 300-plus-pound dudes – just some nasty dudes – going at it next to each other – it’s really going to cause some disruption for us up front.”

Throw in next to Suh and Vea a bigger – and perhaps better – Gholston, who is hungry to prove his worth, and Tampa Bay’s three-man defensive line seems quite formidable this year.

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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: [email protected]
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Buc stops here

I fully agree with the best and worse cases with one exception – OJ Howard. When Howard got hurt last year there was a slight fall-off when they went to Cameron Brate. People seem to forget this undrafted player in five years has caught 159 passes for 1845 yards, 11.6 yards a catch, for 23 touchdowns. Even more impressive, most of those stats come from his last three years of play where he started 17 of the 22 games he started in his career (particularly three years ago when he started 10 games). Even backing OJ Howard up he has… Read more »

Horse

It’s amazing what 30 days does when you are away from this area and there is no news about the Bucs; you get some clarity as to where the Bucs stand as of right now. Some will agree and some will disagree. We are who we are? Talent wise not much better if any; coaching wise we are better. I just can’t buy into how players who have under performed for years are now going to do good because of the coaching change. If I’m Arians I’m going to keep rookies /free agents over under performing Veterans every time. I… Read more »

MizzouBucs24

Sorry Scott I skipped the worst case scenario,don’t need those negative thoughts this time of year. Lol. I’m as excited as I’ve been for awhile going in to this season. We have so much talent on offense and with a new and better scheme this offense could be top 5. Then there’s the defense, I was worried about the secondary and the dline but as we get closer to real football those worries are fading. Suh, Vea, and Gholston make for a pretty stout dline. They should allow David and White to run wild. With that much power up front… Read more »

BUC 727

I skipped Fab2 also. After all, right now we’re in 1st place.

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seat26

Great Article. I believe BA will add somewhere between 3 to 4 wins based on his skills alone as a Coach. However, the losses we have suffered in free agency and offseason injuries are going to hurt. To lose as many starters as we have, in my opinion, will cost us 2 to 3 wins. I think realistically we can expect to win between 6 and 7 games. I was not a big fan of this latest draft. Because for me, it seemed that the management was making a statement and the statement was, last year’s defensive backs didn’t pan… Read more »

geno711

Just an FYI
New England Offensive Line 2018:
Tackles 7th and 5th round
Guards 3rd and 4th round
Center undrafted

Personally, I would not agree with you on the offensive line. Need to develop the offensive line more than draft them this year. Drafted Cappa in the 3rd round this year and he is supposed to be the starter. According to this PR article he is looking fine.

P.S. Pittsburgh with 3 undrafted offensive lineman starting last year.

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geno711

Edit. Cappa drafted 3rd round last year.

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plopes808

I would argue that we didn’t lose much in free agency. Our biggest loss was Kwon, but we gained arguably a better and more talented player in White with our “wasted” 5th pick. While he lacks the experience of Kwon, White has far better coverage skills and similar sideline to sideline ability. Training alongside LVD, White will gain experience and catch up to Kwon quickly. Not to mention the fact that Kwon is making $13.5 million now and there is no way we should have or could have offered that. Then there was GMC, a great player and a great… Read more »

Buc76

It will be somewhere in the middle of best case and worst case. The kicking game will continue to be bad. Drafting another kicker was a dumb move. These college kickers don’t kick 33 yard extra points. Its too much pressure for them to handle and coming here with our recent failed history, as soon as this guy misses 1 time the fans will be all over him and it will get in his head and go downhill from there. You need to find people who have kicked some in the NFL then sign them. Especially here. You can’t erase… Read more »

TBChucky

So Spence is penciled in as starter across from Nassib? I thought for sure that Barrett would be in the lead, with Spence coming in to sub for them.. That being said, I look forward to watching them all this season!

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Captain Sly

A defense is called “Aggressive” when the scheme works and all other times it’s called “gambling”. There’s a lot of Ifs and Hopes in your fab 1 and at this point Scott all anybody can do is hope that the coaching pans out or that the players step up, and the kicking issue corrects itself. There’s no turning back now we’ve got nearly all of our eggs in the DB basket and at some a high draft pick will be benched for another high draft pick which to me somebody needs to be held accountable for. We are thin at… Read more »

Jim Horan

Free agents in 2020. Let New England be the model. New England is not afraid to let Free Agents walk and values compensatory picks. Aside from Winston and possibly Nassib. The others can be gone without too much gnashing of teeth. Keeping the team young and hungry by stockpiling draft picks. It is all about coaching and the development of depth. Teams fall in love with their reserves and often overpay to retain them. The depth made the roster for a reason. It is not a crime to let them step up to bigger role. Older players are more susceptible… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

Pewter Report did a good job of laying out best and worst case scenarios I understand the Pewter Report in order to continue to have access to the team must have a positive spin on just about everything. The same with the other media the problem is sheep read all the positive spin spin it around in their heads and post about it. However I as the sole and only realist watch a team cut 9 of the highest price starters hire a coach in five years whose only won one playoff game but they talked like he has multiple… Read more »

Pick6

“23 free agents” sounds scary but when you can the list there only a couple look headed for big contracts and probably a third of them will miss the bucs’ 53 man roster THIS year. many others will either come back for similar money. Even with strong 2019 seasons, many of these defensive players were available at the bucs price because they’re coming off a down year or two, and the league won’t scramble to pay them like they did Humphries or Kwon. Some guys such as Suh were always meant to be one and done while the team turns… Read more »

macabee

I posted this opinion earlier, but seems appropriate to say it again before training camp. First let me make an all-encompassing statement by saying that I like what the Bucs have done and I like where they are going. I like the new coaching staff, I like the new defensive scheme, I like the secondary improvements and I love the offensive skills positions. We have the makings of a competitive football team. But we are not there yet and we will not get there (playoffs and beyond) until we have the offensive line that allows us to be the offensive… Read more »

EastEndBoy

I’d say you have two ends of a spectrum there: 1) “challenge for a wild card spot in the NFC in 2019″…that sounds like 9-ish wins. 2) at the other end is disaster….call that 2 or 3 wins. Given the aspects you have examined – BA, Winston, RoJo, the Defense, etc. – to arrive at that spectrum, I’d say reality is we’ll get some from your first scenario (maybe Winston clicks), some from your second (maybe RG is still a black hole), and some in between (maybe the running game improves…a little). Therefore, sounds like you’re predicting a 5 or… Read more »

Captain Sly

Well said Macabee. I have been calling this year a soft rebuild, because you can’t keep ignoring the trenches and expect to win. Yes anythings possible but I began tempering my expectations once I saw the direction this offseason.

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owlykat

Great analysis as usual Scott. Good to hear how well Gholston is doing this year—our front three will be a load and our LBs are ready and the backfield has real fast talent now as well as length so I expect great things on Defense. On Offense if BA can develop Cappa to play an excellent RG I think we will be OK using the Power Blocking Offense BA will use to ignite our running game and we will start winning games consistently again. As far as bad scenario with too many injuries any NFL team will drop. I think… Read more »

drdneast

I beg to differ with a few of your observations here. First and most importantly, it is not how Winston goes so goes the Bucs. It is more how the defense plays so goes the Bucs. Winston has provided enough firepower and leadership over the years to give the Buca a winning record. Look at his second year when the Bucs finished 9-7. The Bucs defense managed to get its act together for the final 8 games of the season that year for the team to post a winning record. After that the defense went south, so did the team.… Read more »

Horse

Macabee, well said.

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SenileSenior

If our team can get to 8-8 or 9-7 we will be on our way. No playoffs this year but something to build on for our next super bowl run. We will have achieved respectability and a sense of self worth. A winning culture will have been established. I think Bruce Arians came out of retirement because he saw a golden opportunity here. Here is where the only chance he will ever have to win a super bowl outright as a head coach exists. Here is the only chance he will have to go out on top. Realistically I don’t… Read more »

SenileSenior

Gholston is already at 306 pounds.

Did Gholston say “Vita, man” or did he refer to Vea as “Vita-man”?

“Cappa has gotten better every day.”

“Nassib and Spence have had a good offseason and appear to enter training camp as starting outside linebackers from left and right, respectively.”

All of this is music to my ears. Thanks, Scott.
___________
Go Bucs!!!

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What the Buc

We make the play off if Winston is worth keeping this year. If he plays like he has up to this point maybe 6 wins.

Show me some thumbs down love from all the Winston fanboys this year it’s all on him.

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plopes808

I fail to see how it is “all on Winston” when the guy is setting records while the defense gives up 29 points a game…but that’s just my opinion

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FLBoy84

“When the marquee guy plays like that it rubs off on everyone else.”

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Spitfire

Ass, what would the Glaziers hidden agenda be? You like to bad mouth them and the team but don’t offer any actual answers. You think the Glaziers have hired and fired coaches they are still paying for while hiring another and spend to the Cap because what? They don’t wanna win? You are the Bearded schizophrenic wearing a hoodie making “Packages” in the woods. Get over yourself…

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bucianco

I’m having trouble accepting the following statement: “But imagine if Peyton Barber is motivated by a contract year to rush for 1,000 yards…” Are you saying he didn’t play his hardest last year? Why would you even suggest that? “Pay me more money and I’ll rush for 1000 yards!” I call BS. The article makes it seem like every player that is a free agent next year will play even harder this year to ensure they get a lucrative contract. If that’s the case then only play the guys with one year left because they’re the only ones giving it… Read more »

Buc-Up

“If rookie defensive backs Murphy-Bunting, Dean and Edwards can carve out roles early and either push Carlton Davis, Vernon Hargreaves III and M.J. Stewart towards greatness or push them to the bench it will be a big step for the Bucs secondary, which has lacked playmakers over the last couple of years under Mike Smith. ” If it was bad coaching and not the talent, then shouldn’t the prior drafted trio of Hargreaves (11), Stewart (53), & Davis (63) be better as group than Murphy-Bunting (39), Dean (94), & Edwards (99)? Based on draft position (because it’s all being blamed… Read more »

Buc-Up

PR needs to stop with the Compensatory Picks talk! The Bucs will never see a decent Compensatory Pick until they stop signing players during Free Agency that cancel out the players we lose! I’m still waiting for that 3rd Round Comp Pick the Bucs were gonna get for Glennon that PR spouted off about that whole year.

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Buc-Up

Other than my two rants above, I enjoyed the article..LOL

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Dman

Scott, good stuff here as we head into a quiet period before training camp. Gonna be interesting.

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Macabee for GM @ one Buc. Well put Sir.

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drdneast

Gholston has become a millionaire how many times over for playing mediocre his entire career.
It also must be hard to fault McCoy for not being disruptive enough when Gholston has only generated one sack over the last two years. One sack?
As far as the superlatives being thrown around by the players about their teammates, that is all well and good but I will wait until the preseason starts until I bite down on any of this.

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Spitfire

Buc-Up, you answered your own question. In the quotes he said that the rookies will push the Vets to greatness, or be benched. Everyone agrees it has been the coaching more than the talent but no one is guaranteeing that all the Vets were pro bowl sleepers. The whole point is now that the coaching should be better, we will find out what kind of talent we truly have and are truly lacking. And Bunting, Dean and Edwards are 2nd and 3rd rounders which should not take anything away from their ability to play better than a 1st and 2nd.… Read more »

bucballer

In my opinion the Bucs have a more talented team this year with the athletic draft picks we got and the Suh signing. Teams had to account for McCoy but I think teams have a little fear of a boy named Suh! With LB White in the Defensive Rookie of Year conversation and the top 3 DBs we drafted, this feels like a more talented team. I still believe that the good teams have solid play at QB. It’s the most important position on team. So yes… this team will only be as good as the play of Jameis. I… Read more »

76Buc

Trying to get comp draft picks a is a losers mentality.

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76Buc

‘“Guys are just making plays all over the field in this defense – the whole time this spring,” Gholston said. “Up front we’re staying in our gap and penetrating.”‘
What?!! Dude, they are in their underwear!!!

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76Buc

I agree MizzouBucs24. We see the worst case scenario for real every year. Let’s skip that!

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BigSombrero

It’s interesting to read what the best and worst case scenarios are to SR (and us fans who have chimed in), but I think there is a glaring omission in the quest to approximate the Bucs destiny for 2019: The opponents. It may seem obvious to fans here because we love football, but the won/loss record comes from the games one at a time, not the statistics. Winning by one point 42-41 or 14-13 is still winning. Most often statistics are driven by game situations with a domino effect. For example: The Bucs had a top 3 offense but a… Read more »

BUC 727

The bottom line is that we now have the talent. Now, we have the coaching. Injuries and depth well dictate how far we go.

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scubog

Scott should have consulted Bob for input on the Worst Case Scenario. He then could have added a Fab 6 called Doomsday Scenario. I always chuckle when the folks, who look to put a negative spin on everything, call themselves “realists”. Yet those of us that see “the future is so bright we have to wear shades” are called Kool Aid drinkers, sheep and other such derogatory names like……….fans. I’ll never apologize for being hopeful of the season ahead. I do think the main thing that I thought needed an adjustment, ATTITUDE” and needed a boost, CONFIDENCE” are the two… Read more »

fredster

Yeah agree Scubog just saying everyone sucks and nothing will work (Bob) makes him a realist? Makes him a troll douche bag loser to me. Lol. I will not acknowledge him anymore just feeds his stupidity. He’s one sad ass person all has to do is troll and cry like a bitch 24/7. Anyways, enough on Suck-Ass-Boob. He’s not worth conversing worth! Yes a lot of different things can happen. Nobody has crystal ball. What I do know. I know we have a real proven head coach for first time since Gruden left. Bunch of failed head coach experiments, failed… Read more »

Buc2dafuture

We will have great schemes for the first month of the season, hopefully that will translate into wins. The momentum from the first quarter of the season will have to carry us for the horrible 7 week stretch and that will define our season.

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twspin

Sure I want Winston to become our franchise QB. But he still has a lot of work to do. Lets pray Arians is the lasting and final motivator. Of all the scenarios listed here, I’m really hoping our defense rebounds considerably under Bowles. Its one of this yrs biggest keys if we are to win 8 to 10 games. Accomplish
this and we do..make the playoffs. One things for certain, Our Defense has nowhere to go but UP.

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matador

The truly stunning thing about the list of next year’s free agents on offense and defense is that there’s only one player who has shown enough on the playing field for more than one season that you’d definitely want them back. That’s right, one. And it’s Barber who on some teams would be a RB2. Sure there are players you’d hope to want back. Obviously Winston most importantly but the cold hard fact is that if he had we’d have already extended him. Hopefully Nassib proves that last year wasn’t a fluke with defenses not having to worry about JPP.… Read more »

seat26

White is there to replace Alexander. I get it. But if we had taken Josh Allen we get an outside linebacker and a Defensive End in the same pick. We could have gone middle linebacker in the 2nd round and Corner and safety in 3rd. The current lineup assumes that Spence can play outside linebacker. It also assumes that White will have lots of sacks. And I think it is way too early to say that White is better than Alexander.

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Jeffbuc

Macabee I thought you were on to something until you talked about are offensive line. You think coaching can fix everything but offensive line. Jensen was the highest graded center before he came to the bucs in his last year with the ravens. Coaching affects the offensive line also. Where dirk ran his offensive no matter if you for it or not. Are real new coaching staff is going to run the offense to best fit the players. You can’t say that winston and skill offensive players and the defensive will be better with new coaching while saying the offensive… Read more »

Naplesfan

The Bucs fans (or “homers”) have fully convinced themselves that player quality is not the reason we’ve been losing most of our games since the Baby Glazers fired our last winning/playoffs coach at the end of the 2008 season (a winning season, by the way). And that Bruce Arians is the second coming of Football Jesus and he is precisely what has been lacking the last 10 seasons, and therefore better coaching is the answer to all Buc fans’ dreams. The Las Vegas oddsmakers certainly do not agree with that assessment – they’ve settled on the Bucs being a 100-1… Read more »