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.
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.
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.
“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
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.