FAB 3. Bucs Should Re-Sign ILB Minter

There is a reason why PewterReport.com has Tampa Bay selecting LSU inside linebacker Devin White with its first-round pick in the first two 2019 Bucs’ 6-Round Mock Drafts.

The Bucs have just one healthy starting-caliber linebacker on the roster in Lavonte David.

Tampa Bay is expected to offer a contract extension to injured middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, who is scheduled to be a free agent in March. But Alexander is coming off a torn ACL and may not be ready for the start of training camp. And if Alexander is re-signed there is no guarantee that he will automatically resume playing at a high level in 2019 coming off knee surgery. Whether the Bucs will offer Alexander a one-year, prove-it deal or a multi-year contract extension is currently being debated at One Buccaneer Place by the Bucs’ brass.

Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith - Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
Bucs LB Kendell Beckwith – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR

The Bucs are hopeful that Kendell Beckwith can make it back from a broken ankle that caused him to miss the 2018 offseason, training camp and the entire regular season, but his status is unknown. Beckwith, a third-round pick in 2017, recovered from a torn ACL at LSU and had a great rookie season in Tampa Bay with 73 tackles, two passes defensed, one sack and one forced fumble.

Jack Cichy, the Bucs’ sixth-round pick, tore his ACL in the overtime win against Cleveland just as Alexander did. He too cannot be counted on to make a full comeback in 2019.

Adarius Glanton, Riley Bullough and Devante Bond all played in place of Alexander, Beckwith and David, who missed two games last year with an injury, but they are reserve linebackers and special teams players at best.

Noah Spence and Jason Pierre-Paul can transition to weakside linebackers as David moves inside to the MO linebacker role behind the three-technique defensive tackle in Todd Bowles’ 3-4 Under scheme. But the Bucs need to add more linebackers capable of starting in the offseason, especially inside ‘backers if Tampa Bay will be deploying a 3-4 scheme.

That’s why the Bucs need to re-sign inside linebacker Kevin Minter.

Bucs ILB Kevin Minter
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Big Takeaway
Minter was signed as midseason replacement for Alexander last year by Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who helped draft him in the second round in Arizona in 2013. The former LSU standout has good size at 6-foot, 246 pounds, as well as a working knowledge of Bowles defense, having played in it from 2013-14 with the Cardinals.

Minter spent four seasons with the Cardinals, notching 224 tackles, five sacks, four passes defensed and a safety with his best season coming in 2015 when he helped lead Arizona to a 13-3 record and a spot in the NFC Championship Game. After his rookie contract was up Minter signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati in 2017 and then spent the 2018 offseason and training camp with the New York Jets, reuniting with Bowles, who was the head coach.

Minter played in five games with the Bucs, recording 10 tackles, a tackle for loss and a sack in limited duty before a calf injury placed him on injured reserve in December. Not only could Minter serve as competition for Alexander and/or Beckwith at the MIKE or SAM linebacker spots, he could also serve as a coach on the field due to his background in Bowles’ system.

Quotes That Matter
Minter loved his time in Tampa Bay and wants to re-sign with the Bucs, especially since Bruce Arians has taken over as head coach and brought Bowles with him to be the team’s defensive coordinator.

“Absolutely, I’d be with the guys I started with,” Minter said. “I know that defense like the back of my hand. I’m close with the coaches. I would love to be back in Tampa, but I know it’s a business and they have business moves to make. Tampa is my number one destination right now.

Bucs ILB Kevin Minter
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Getty Images

“I love both of the linebacker coaches (Mike Caldwell and Larry Foote). They are great guys. They are smart, stand-up dudes. I still talk to them throughout my career. They are always checking in on me. Both of them are going to my wedding in February. I can’t say enough about them. They are great teachers. Coming in as a second-round pick you think you know a lot about defense, but they both proved me wrong on several occasions and taught me new things. I hope we get to work together this season.”

Minter stated his case for the Bucs’ re-signing him, as he could help Tampa Bay’s other linebackers quickly pick up the scheme.

“When I was coming in we had a whole lot of vets, so that helped,” Minter said. “We had a lot of guys that were able to pick it up easily, but they had great study habits. It’s not as complicated as it may seem, but how much do you want it? How much do you want to learn? The way offenses are these days you don’t want anything easy going at them. Coach Bowles’ styles and the way he switches it up – if these guys buckle down and really get into the playbook they can be really good, especially with the talent on this team.”

Stats That Count
Minter had some productive years in Arizona (2013-16) as an inside linebacker in Bowles’ 3-4 defense.

2013: 4 tackles
2014: 45 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 sack
2015: 94 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 2 PBUs, 1 safety, 0.5 sack
2016: 81 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2 PBUs 3.5 sacks
2017: 32 tackles
2018: 10 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack

Bucs ILB Kevin Minter
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The FABulous Ending
To say that Minter wants to return to Tampa Bay is an understatement – and that was before Arians was even hired to replace Dirk Koetter. Now that Arians and Bowles are leading the team, Minter is eager to talk to the front office and remain a Buccaneer.

“B.A. expects the best out of you and Coach Bowles expects the same,” Minter said. “Coach Bowles a real smart guy, too – especially the X’s and O’s. It’s pretty dope to talk to him about it. I have a ton of respect for him. Just looking at this team with the coaches it has on it – it’s quality. And I want to be a part of it.”

Seems like a signing that makes sense to me – even if Minter winds up as an experienced reserve in 2019.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys 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]

33 COMMENTS

  1. A block-shedding tackling machine like Ed Oliver is my hope when the card is turned in.

    Devin White does seem like a great prospect. He would definitely have immediate rapport with whichever LSU linebackers(Kwon/Minter/Beckwith) are left on the team.

    Someone has to replace McCoy though. Vea and Oliver would wreak havoc.

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    • On a trade down yes for sure but not at 5. Oliver will be there at the 10-15 range

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    • I’d be happy with the Bucs picking Oliver or White. I think it will boil down to: 1. what the Bucs do with McCoy, 2. Free agency moves, and 3. Alexander and Beckwith’s rehab progress. Another way to put this is that if Alexander and / or Beckwith were healthy, I wouldn’t waste that pick on another linebacker and I’d be shouting for Ed Oliver in the 1st round until the cows come home.

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  2. I really hope the new staff can revive Spence’s career, but I’m tired of all the hype surrounding him. The truth is on one of the worst defenses in the NFL he never saw the field. Talent rises above scheme, and fit, if Spence showed he could get to the Q.B. during preseason games he would’ve played. I watched him go one, on one against third teamers in that last preseason game, and he got completely stone walled. You either have that God given ability, or you don’t. Von Miller would be sacking Q.B.’s in any scheme. From what I’ve seen of Spence he’s been a waste of a roster spot. Time to put up, or hit the road. I’m warming up more to White being our first pick, just hope we trade down, and still get him. The Bucs need better size at LB. Don’t mind a one year prove it deal for Kwon, but that’s it. Learning a new defense, and not being able to hit the grass for OTA’s, and most likely training camp will put him behind the 8 ball. Both him, and David are undersized, and have trouble getting off blocks. Having the fast, strong White in the middle might be the tone setter this defense has been missing for years.

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    • Talent does rise above scheme, but it doesn’t necessarily rise above coaching abilities or biases, especially if that player needs some additional development as Spence did. For whatever reason, Buckner didn’t want Spence involved much at all. None of us really has any insight into that situation, so all we really know at this point is that Spence is still with the Bucs and Buckner isn’t.

      I remember when Rice’s talent was being wasted in Phoenix and he first came to the Bucs. He was only getting 5-7 sacks a season if I remember correctly (?), changed scene and changed schemes and finally reached his potential.

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      • Right – I watched Spence in training camp last summer and was impressed with his speed and strength. Was surprised when he disappeared during the season.

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  3. I thought the concern about Spence coming into the draft as a 3-4 LB was his slow 40m time.

    I wanted the Bucs to pickup Hunt off the Waiver Wire when the Chiefs cut him. We would’ve had him under his Rookie contract which wouldn’t cost as much as trying to sign him as Free Agent now even in his current situation. We could’ve pressed the NFL to suspend him immediately to count towards any games that he would miss. In that situation they would’ve had his rights but not have to pay him. By serving the punishment in 2018 it would mean missing less games in 2019 if any depending on the number of games he got. Now any team that signs him has to wait for the NFL to hand down punishment after they sign him and serve it. If they didn’t want him to play for the Bucs and take the PR hit, then they could’ve traded his rights to someone that wanted him. If you state up front that you only signed him so that you can trade him later, then no PR hit.

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    • Just a few thoughts on your Hunt ideas…

      The collective bargaining agreement ensures players don’t serve immediate suspensions. There is a process and it takes forever. I’m not sure when Hunt would start serving a suspension if he’s picked up by a new team. Could be mid year or later. Could be across two seasons. Who knows how many games he’ll get?

      If the Bucs signed him and decided they didn’t want to take a PR hit, as you put it, and decided to trade the player away, would his value take a hit since he just signed with a new team? Im thinking about Kelvin Benjamin as an example. Bills gave up quite a bit in a trade to Carolina to get him and ended up releasing him. Kansas City didn’t even have to claim him off waivers. He was without a team for a while if memory serves.

      It seems couterintuitive to sign the player, take backlash from detractors, then come back and say we did it to trade him away, thus ticking off supporters of the move.

      Im not a fan of this player, truth be told. He has had 3 incidents in his short career according to the paper, plus he lied to his team about what happened. There are lots of RB’s that need a shot. Get one that’s got his head screwed on straight.

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      • The way I look at it is even if we only got a 7th rounder for him, it’s a pick that we didn’t have for a player that cost nothing to get.

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  4. I was just thinking same thing about pre season and watched him going up against 3rd and 4th string scrubs and never sniffed a QB. It was crazy to see really. Not sure what his issue is perhaps he wasn’t as healthy as they say. Who knows. I don’t have lot faith he will do much but would be nice not to write off draft pick that high. He will get best shot to do something now for sure in 3-4 with better coaches.

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  5. Nice piece on White. I particularly like the idea that he’s a high-character guy to go with all of his other talents. I’m still a big Jonah fan as well. No OT in the mock? I can’t see that. I’m assuming that the Bucs are going to end up trading out of the 5 spot. Dropping a few spots and picking up another 2nd, and still having a shot at either of the afore mentioned, would work for me.

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    • I was wondering about OT as well, I know he’s probably thinking to keep Smith at LT but what about RT? Dotson?? Cappa?? I hope we find a better solution.

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      • That’s definitely a concern, Ry… The tackles on both sides are big question marks. I did like the Lindstrom pick in the mock… Guard as well.

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        • I’d go OT in the first round. Hope they do trade back a bit tho. Would love to see an extra pick or 2 added. Devin White looks great but this team needs an Oline bad. I expect Bowles to work wonders with the LBs and DBs already here. The next corner blitz will be the first one i can recall in years. Gona be exciting seeing a defense trying to make plays rather than hoping for offensive mistakes.

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          • I can see them going OT in the first round only if they manage to renegotiate McCoy’s contract and he stays here. Or, if Alexander’s on schedule or ahead of schedule with rehab.

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  6. Yes, sign Hunt ASAP. Funny you brought up the Tampa Bay Times articles. It is becoming an unreadable newspaper. Their politics has always been way out there, but the Sports section used to be good at least.

    Scott, you list all the linebackers we have (including Spence and JPP) and then insist on drafting another one first round. I don’t get it. Not all of those injuries will be limiting. Lets work on the O Line and another cover corner first…

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  7. I am warming up to the idea of drafting White, but I still think there’s bigger needs along the OL, at DT if we release GMC, and probably in the secondary. All this becomes even more true if Beckwith comes back 100% from his ankle injury, which from all I’ve heard doesn’t appear to be career threatening or anything. Drafting White would essentially relegate Beckwith to backup duties, while we still have immediate starters at multiple other positions. Seems silly to make a good player a backup when we still yet to have a starting caliber RG or DT to replace McCoy.

    As for Spence, I really do hope he can return to form in Bowles defense. I don’t think people focus enough on how multiple shoulder injuries really damaged his career thus far, as arm usage is absolutely crucial to success as a pass rusher. Then on top of that, being asked to gain weight when his best attribute as a rookie was his explosiveness only damaged it further. In Bowles system, hopefully he can think less and get back to the basics as a situational pass rushing OLB…which is what he was projected as coming out of college anyways.

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  8. Selecting a middle linebacker would the last nail in Licht’s coffin. I’m sure White will be excellent – maybe he’ll even be the next Kwon Alexander in this league – but unless he can cover Julio Jones, pass rush Cam Newton, or pass block Cam Jordan, it’s a luxury pick at #5.

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    • Don’t forget, Arians and his staff will have a lot of input toward who we select. I, for one want Oliver, whether McCoy is here next season or not. But, if they, as an organization, decide White is their guy, I trust that B.A. and Bowles know what they’re doing.

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  9. Nice Fab 5 Scott. White does sound awesome but i still think if there is a DL or OL player with the same ranking or higher on our draft board where ever we end up picking then we should still work on the trenches which I feel is more important right now. GO BUCS!!!

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  10. In a draft with elite talent along the DL you guys keep mocking us a LB. If Licht has shown us anything about his drafts its that he can identify impact LBs outside the 1st round. Stop with this waste of a pick, it should be Ed Oliver plain and simple. If you want to sell me on trading back and selecting the huge guard from Oklahoma Ford then I’m on board with it. But we need help along the trenches. As for Spence, he couldn’t get on the field for a team that needed pass rushing help. Hoping this staff can fix him is one thing, actually expecting it would be crazy. He’s slow for his position, the trait most of Licht’s busts have in common. See VHIII and maybe even MJ for details. I hope somebody tells him that when push comes to shove draft the superior athlete, stop with the “hard nosed” but athletically inferior players.

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  11. We’ll see if Bowles and company can salvage Spence career, if not he’s likely done.

    Yes re-sign Minter…. And Kwon!

    No still pass on White.

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  12. Fennelly and Morono- I mean Romano- need to follow their equally bitter and hateful former colleague Tom Jones into the cesspool or sunset or wherever they send washed up has beens.

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  13. We need to trade back with a QB needy team and pick up another 2nd round pick. White would be great but seems to be more of a luxury pick, unless there’s already info that Alexander or Beckwith won’t be available for next season. I agree with most that the lines are where we need to focus first and foremost. I could get on board with trading down and still getting a top LB as long as there is trench help available for us with our extra picks, but other than that…no

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  14. Scott, this is a great piece of writing; on exactly the right subjects for this stage of the new regime. Excellent insights and thought-provoking analysis of the most critical issues for the Bucs. Its clear that you put good work and thought into this.
    You’re doing a great job of upping your game at Pewter Report. PR has the best Bucs coverage in the business, by far. Thanks for that. Keep growing.

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    • Sycophantic suck up! Except that you’re right. Pewter Report is my favorite website to go to because of the in-depth Bucs reporting, perspective, and of course, feedback fan boards!

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      • BucWild02, thanks for agreeing. And when your insights are better than your criticism, I’ll say something similar about your writing.

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        • Ouch! I better pour a glass of the good stuff to ease my pain from your criticism. Truth is, I just wanted to (finally) use the word “sycophantic”.

          Cheers!

          Go Bucs!

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  15. I have written about it before, Spence should have never been drafted by the BUCs. He is not a 4-3 defensive end. He was meant to be a 3-4 rushing Linebacker. He is not that great at stopping the run, but he is a rushing lb in a 3-4 system. He has wasted his time on a 4-3 team trying to be a rushing DE like Paul. He is just not quite big enough to be a 4-3 end. He tried to bulk up like one and it did not work. It just slowed him down. He will now need to be back to his original weight, get his speed up, and see if Todd Bowles can use him in one of the now available 4 linebacker positions. With the Buc’s injuries at LB and if Spence can show that rushing ability, he will make the 53 man roster for Bowles. He has no trade value. You can cut him, but you might be surprised and get a valuable rushing LB that can be out there every down in a 3-4 system. In a 4-3 system they could only use him once in a while, maybe.

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  16. Great in-depth article once again, Scott. However, those NFL Teams that want Turnstyle Smith for their LT should get a phone call from Licht offering to trade him to the highest bidder and get a draft pick for him and don’t waste a penny of our cap on Smith who can’t stop speed rushers and draws lots of holding penalties and he would be no better at RT for us. Then drop down in the First and still take either Bama’s or Mississippi’s LT. If you get a second first pick go after Oliver to replace McCoy when he retires even if he takes a reduced contract. Oliver would still need to play half each game to keep McCoy fresh for the fourth Quarter. By drafting a first round LT you protect our cap for many other needs on this team. Both Beckwith and Alexander must be thoroughly studied by medical experts to see if either will be able to play this season. If either one will pass on White. We will have Minter inside to pair with them and will likely have Cichy back and Bullough behind them and still David and Taylor could also play inside too. We should have David outside on the weak side to start and have Spence on the other side. And if both Alexander and Beckwith both come back Beckwith could play Outside on the strong side if Spence couldn’t cut it and Taylor is able to play either outside position.

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    • Why would a team allow the Bucs to negotiate on their behalf for Smith’s salary and trade a draft pick or two? Why would Smith sign a contract or accept the tag to begin with. As an UFA he has a pick of 31 other teams to see what he can get? The only other option would be to franchise him and trade him to someone willing not only to give him 14 million, but give the Bucs a draft picks – all this for a one year player, unless of course they both sign him to a long term deal and work out draft compensation with the Bucs since they aren’t aren’t going to give up two first round picks. Since all the “experts” say he is the top Free Agent Left Tackle and will certainly be overpaid, his agents would be nuts. If the Bucs move on, which I hope they will as a fan only. I acknowledge, however; the coaches are much more capable than me of knowing his ability) and may want him. Best bet is hope for a high compensatory pick.

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  17. By the way Spence never looked slow running down QBs from outside in his first year here. This year in preseason he could not get around LTs so there was no way to see if he was slow. JPP and GMC thought he was “fast” this year from practices against him so I have no idea where the idea he is slow comes from. JPP and GMC should know better from first hand experience. I thoroughly believe Spence can at last be developed properly to play outside strongside LB for the 3-4 base defense. With our second round pick this year we should grab Charles Omenahu from Texas so our Defense should be really scary for our opponents especially since Bowles teaches five or six new blitzes each week for our adversaries. I hope Bowles will go one step further this year and take some lessons from Clemson’s DC when beating Bama and learn how to disguise his defenses to set up interceptions. Also I hope BA will teach Jameis how to alter his cadence to trick opponents to jump off sides and get some free plays to throw deep. Koetter foolishly would not let Jameis do that.

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  18. It’s great that we have new trainers, but does anyone know if the medical staff was replaced?

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