Bucs GM Jason Licht and head coach Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

SR’s Fab 5 is a collection of reporting and analysis on the Bucs from yours truly, Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds. Here are four things that caught my attention this week, plus some random tidbits in my Buc Shots section at the end. Enjoy!

FAB 1. Why Bowles Over Leftwich As Next Bucs Head Coach?

Todd Bowles was always going to be Bruce Arians’ successor in Tampa Bay. That was decided in 2019 when Arians came out of retirement to coach the Bucs at the age of 66. Arians, who is a two-time cancer survivor, retired from coaching the Cardinals due to health issues following the 2017 season.

Both he and the Bucs needed to have a succession plan in place in case Arians’ health failed him again as he approached the age of 70. Arians assembled an all-star staff of assistants and coordinators that he had coached with in the past. Most of those coaches, including Bowles, were on his Arizona staff.

I’m a big Bowles fan, and I applaud this move by the Bucs. But why did Bowles ultimately get the job instead of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, or even assistant head coach Harold Goodwin? There are several reasons to be explored.

Bowles Has Been There, Done That

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles – Photo by: USA Today

The reason why Bowles was picked to be Arians’ heir apparent back in 2019 is because of his head coach experience in New York with the Jets from 2015-18. While his term ultimately wasn’t successful, evidenced by his 24-40 record, Bowles gained a lot of experience. He found out what worked, and ultimately doesn’t work with the Jets.

Several successful NFL head coaches have produced better results the second time around. Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Marv Levy, Andy Reid, Dick Vermeil and Tony Dungy are just a few of them. The Bucs hope – and anticipate – Bowles will follow that trend.

It’s not often that a coach will get a second chance at leading a team in the NFL. It’s even harder for a minority to get that opportunity. That certainly wasn’t lost on Arians, who is a trailblazer in promoting opportunities for minority and female coaches.

The fact that Bowles has already had success constructing and operating one of the league’s best defenses is a huge plus. He has coached with members of this staff for years, so there’s no trust issues or a learning curve. Bowles has a three-year head start on this head-coaching job. He’s not starting from scratch like he was in New York. Plus, he has Tom Brady for one more season to help kick start his tenure in Tampa Bay.

Bowles’ Relationship With Arians And His Intellect Made Him The Guy

Arians has a great relationship with all of his coaches, but especially his coordinators. While Goodwin is a natural leader of men, and was given the title of assistant head coach, Bowles got the job because of his experience as a head coach. And the fact that Arians’ loyalty to Bowles goes back further.

Bucs GM Jason Licht, co-owners Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Joel Glazer, head coach Todd Bowles and senior football consultant Bruce Arians

Bucs GM Jason Licht, co-owners Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and Joel Glazer, head coach Todd Bowles and senior football consultant Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bowles played under Arians at Temple and joined his staff in Arizona in 2013. He was the team’s defensive coordinator for two years before his opportunity to lead the Jets in 2015. Goodwin has actually coached with Arians for more years (since 2013), but the relationship between Arians and Bowles dates back to the 1980s.

Goodwin started working with Arians on his staff in Pittsburgh in 2007 and then followed him to Indianapolis in 2012 and then to Arizona in 2013.

Leftwich was a backup quarterback under Arians in 2008 and again from 2010-12. Arians made him a coaching intern in Arizona in 2016 and then hired him as the Cardinals quarterbacks coach the next year. After calling plays in Arizona for half a season in 2018 after Arians retired, Leftwich was named the play-caller in Tampa Bay in 2019.

All of this well and good, but Arians stepped down as the Bucs head coach. General manager Jason Licht is sensitive to Arians’ reasoning, but also had to make the best choice to lead the Bucs moving forward. Licht is a big fan of Bowles, Leftwich and Goodwin. But what sold Licht and the Glazers on Bowles was his intellect.

That’s not to stay that Goodwin and Leftwich aren’t bright. They are. But Bowles is just on another level.

“Seeing Todd coach that year, even in training camp, and even going as far as the first OTAs, you know when you know,” Licht told SI’com’s Albert Breer. “You know a good coach, one that’s going to be a head coach. Some of them, it’s a little bit of a slow warm-up and then you’re like, ‘Yeah, you know what? This guy could be.’ But with Todd, it was immediate. You knew he’s gonna be a head coach. Just the way he communicates, he’s one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever been around—and not just in football, he’s just got rare intelligence.

“And he just knows how to connect and push the right buttons on everybody, from all walks of life. He forms relationships in his own way with everybody in the building.”

This Was Bowles’ Best – And Perhaps Last – Shot At Being A Head Coach

Both Arians and Licht expected that Bowles would  get a shot at a head-coaching job after his masterful game plan in Super Bowl LV. Tampa Bay’s defense held Patrick Mahomes and the vaunted Kansas City offense out of the end zone in a 31-9 victory. When that didn’t happen the Bucs made him the league’s highest-paid defensive coordinator. His players love him.

Bucs DC Todd Bowles

Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: USA Today

Surely Bowles would get a head-coaching job after helping the Bucs go 13-4 and make the playoffs again, right? Well, he got four interviews, but those teams went for offensive-minded head coaches – all of them younger, too.

Bowles is 58, Black and a defensive-minded head coach. Unfortunately, that’s not the trendy, en vogue formula for new coaching hires in the NFL these days. Bowles deserves the right to be Arians’ successor regardless of his color or age.

And there have been plenty of defensive-minded head coaches that have success in the league from Dungy to Belichick to Carroll to Bill Parcells to Mike Tomlin. All have won Super Bowls.

But given the hiring climate in the NFL, Arians figured that the 42-year old Leftwich would get a head-coaching job faster than Bowles. Leftwich has presided over Tampa Bay’s high-powered offense for the past three years, spending the last two with Brady. Leftwich, a former quarterback, has hands-on experience working with QBs. That’s what NFL teams favor right now.

So by anointing the worthy Bowles this year for this job, Arians can have two of his protégés become NFL head coaches. Leftwich almost assuredly will get hired next offseason. He came close to getting the Jacksonville job this winter.

Bowles Has Experience Working With QBs, Too

Despite being a defensive-minded head coach, Bowles has plenty of experience working with quarterbacks, too. Perhaps too much experience. He started six different quarterbacks in his four seasons with the Jets.

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich and QB Tom Brady

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

From older veterans like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown to a rookie like Sam Darnold, Bowles has learned what to do and what not to do with QBs leading his team. This is important because he’ll likely have to choose a new starting quarterback in 2023, as this could be Brady’s final season in Tampa Bay.

“I think it’s important that the quarterback knows how you think the game, and how you want the game played, being on the same page that way,” Bowles told SI.com’s Breer. “Whether you’re his coordinator or not, it’s very important for you to be on the same page so communication and the dialogue flows easily. And I felt like I could’ve done that a little bit more in New York, and I know I can do it a lot more here. And conversations will be completely different from that standpoint.

“Byron does an excellent job being an offensive coordinator, but it’s my job to be the head coach and everyone understands that. It’ll go accordingly. There are so many things you learn from the first time around. I don’t think I did a bad job being around quarterbacks, I just think that experience-wise, you see a lot of nuances that you wish you could’ve added to your coaching style. That’ll help me be a better coach for the quarterback.”

Bowles’ Biggest Challenge Awaits

As a defensive-minded head coach, Bowles’ biggest challenge will be to not only find the next quarterback post-Brady. It will be to get the offensive coordinator hire right post-Leftwich. Maybe Bowles promotes wide receivers coach Kevin Garver to the role of play-caller. Or perhaps assistant QBs coach Thaddeus Lewis gets the nod.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles – Photo by: USA Today

Hiring Leftwich would have insured offensive continuity in Tampa Bay. He would have kept calling the plays and never had to worry about finding an offensive coordinator. That’s what ultimately sank Dungy’s ship in Tampa Bay – not getting the offensive coordinator hire right.

But there are plenty of offensive-minded head coaches that don’t get the defensive coordinator hire right, either. And giving up too many points results in losses. Losses result in firings. There is just as much value in stopping potent offenses with great defense than there is in creating potent offenses in the first place. Bowles proved that in Super Bowl LV.

Replacing Leftwich and finding Brady’s successor will be Bowles’ biggest challenge as Tampa Bay’s head coach. And it’s a challenge he’s likely to face a year from now.

The Bucs believe Bowles has the experience and intellect to make the right call while his strong defense helps carry the team in that transition. That’s why he got the job.

FAB 2. Arians Is The Best Coach In Bucs History

Since I began reporting on the Buccaneers in 1995, I’ve had the honor of covering every year of the Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden and Bruce Arians eras. That makes me qualified to suggest that Arians is the best coach in Bucs history. That’s not to take anything away from the job Dungy did turning the Bucs franchise around so quickly and making them a playoff team in just his second year. Or that Dungy and his staff built a tremendous defense in his six years Tampa Bay.

Gruden used that defense and his own rebuilt Bucs offense to win a Super Bowl and three division titles in seven years as his successor, beginning in 2002. Gruden edged Dungy to be Tampa Bay’s all-time winningest coach 57-54. Ironically, both men were fired after producing winning seasons for the organization.

Arians coached just three years in Tampa Bay from 2019-2021. He got to go out on his own terms before his 70th birthday. Arians retired this offseason and handed the team over to his handpicked successor, Todd Bowles. Arians didn’t hang around long enough to be fired, which is the eventual fate of almost all NFL coaches at some point or another.

Coaches are hired to win games. Nobody did that better than Arians in Tampa Bay, as he finished with a 31-18 record.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

He only coached half of the amount of time of Dungy’s tenure, and less than half of Gruden’s. But Arians won Super Bowl LV in his second season, and produced back-to-back winning years in 2020 and ’21 with a regular season record of 24-9 during that span. That’s the best two-year run of any Bucs teams in franchise history.

Arians’ presence and his offense helped lure future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady to Tampa Bay in 2020. His leadership helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl that year, and a franchise-record 13 games last season – in addition to the first division title since 2007. His .633 winning percentage is the best in team history. Arians has also won more postseason games (five) than any other Bucs coach. He finishes with a 5-1 postseason record.

Even Arians’ worst season was better than any other Tampa Bay coach. Arians’ worst year was going 7-9 in 2019. Dungy’s worst season was 6-10 in 1996. Gruden had a 4-12 record in 2006.

Part of Arians’ legacy in Tampa Bay will be what happens in 2022 and beyond. While any wins and losses will officially be on Bowles’ record and not Arians’, they will be a part of Arians’ legacy in theory. How Bowles does will reflect on Arians moving forward, especially the 2022 season, which Arians played a big part in setting up this offseason.

The Bucs had a remarkable run of success between 1997-2007 under both Dungy and Gruden. The team made the playoffs seven times during that span, and won four division titles and a Super Bowl.

Arians has already kick-started a winning culture in Tampa Bay with a pair of amazing seasons over the past two years. The 2022 season should follow this positive trend. It will be up to Bowles to continue the success for many years post-Arians. If he does, Bowles could join the conversation and have his name mentioned alongside Dungy, Gruden, and of course, Arians, his mentor.

FAB 3. The Next Five In The Bucs Ring Of Honor

It’s a no-brainer that former Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians should be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor. Bucs co-chair Joel Glazer did the right thing at Arians’ retirement announcement press conference and surprise him – and everyone – with the news. Arians could be considered the best head coach in franchise history with his Super Bowl win, his .633 winning percentage and a 5-1 playoff record. Not to mention that the Bucs won a team record 13 regular season games in 2021.

So it begs the question, who are the next inductees to the Bucs Ring of Honor? Here are five names I’m campaigning for, so listen up, Glazers.

When it comes to the Bucs Ring of Honor credentials, the Glazers haven’t made their criteria publicly known. But in my mind, the inductees should have left their mark in Tampa Bay in either the record books, as one of the greatest Buccaneers of all-time, or by playing a significant role in helping the team get to the playoffs and win.

MLB Hardy Nickerson

Former Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson

Former Bucs LB Hardy Nickerson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Ask Tony Dungy and he’ll tell you. Re-signing Hardy Nickerson in 1996 was just as much of a key to the Bucs’ turnaround as his own arrival in Tampa Bay that year. Nickerson had already made a Pro Bowl in 1993 and set the franchise record for tackles in a season with a league-leading 214. That record still stands today.

Nickerson brought a winning attitude from Pittsburgh and transformed the culture in Tampa Bay. His leadership helped Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Ronde Barber become the best versions of themselves. Nickerson’s Incredible Hulk poses made him a fan favorite, while his physical and heady play made him a five-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. He turned the Bucs into a force on defense in the late 1990s. Nickerson helped the Bucs get to the playoffs twice in 1997 and ‘99, winning the NFC Central title in his final season.

After his seven-year playing career concluded, Nickerson served the team as the color analyst for the Buccaneers Radio Network in 2006. He also returned to Tampa Bay as the team’s linebackers coach in 2014-15 under Lovie Smith. When he retired he was the Bucs’ all-time leading tackler with 1,028. Although he’s been passed by Derrick Brooks (2,198), Ronde Barber (1,428) and Lavonte David (1,222), Nickerson still ranks inside the Top 5.

The Glazers have done a lot of things right when it comes to the Bucs Ring of Honor. But making Nickerson wait this long for his induction is not one of them. He should be the next inductee.

DE Simeon Rice

Former Bucs DE Simeon Rice

Former Bucs DE Simeon Rice – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Rice is one of the team’s greatest free agent signings of all-time. The pass rusher extraordinaire signed with Tampa Bay in 2001 and helped the Bucs make the playoffs in three of his six years with the Bucs. Rice helped win a Super Bowl in 2002 and two division titles.

He became one of the most feared pass rushers in franchise history, and ranks third with 69.5 sacks in red and pewter. Rice made two Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams in Tampa Bay. His double-digit sack string over five straight years from 2001-05 still stands as a team record to this day. Rice was just as much a part of the Bucs’ Super Bowl success in 2002 as Sapp, Brooks, Lynch and Barber were.

RB James Wilder

Former Bucs RB James Wilder - Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

Former Bucs RB James Wilder – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

I don’t know if the Glazers will ever induct Wilder into the Bucs Ring of Honor. He wasn’t a player when they owned the team, as his time in Tampa Bay was from 1981-89. But over those nine years he set numerous franchise records – some of which stand today. In fact, Wilder is still the Bucs all-time leading rusher with 5,957 yards. His 9,449 all-purpose yards is still atop the franchise, too.

Wilder had one Pro Bowl appearance playing on a decade’s worth of lousy teams. That came in 1984 when he led the league with 407 carries for 1,544 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those are still single-season records for carries, yards and rushing TDs. As a 6-foot-3, 225-pound back with speed, power and hands, Wilder was truly ahead of his time. His league-high 492 touches that year, along with 2,229 total yards is also a single season record that stands today in Tampa Bay. It’s time to give Wilder the recognition he deserves. It’s the right thing to do, Glazers.

LB Shelton Quarles

Former Bucs LB Shelton Quarles

Former Bucs LB Shelton Quarles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

No Buccaneer has served the franchise as long as Quarles has. Few might know that Quarles ranks fifth all-time in tackles with 985. The former linebacker had four seasons with at least 100 tackles, including the 2002 campaign in which he helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl. That was Quarles’ first season at middle linebacker and he earned his lone Pro Bowl honors that year, too.

The year prior in 2001, Quarles intercepted Brett Favre and returned the pick 98 yards. That still stands as the longest interception return in franchise history. After his 10-year playing career concluded, Quarles went to work in the Bucs’ scouting department. Since then he has transitioned to working on the football operations side of team. Quarles is celebrating 25 years with the organization this season, which is a Bucs Ring of Honor worthy accomplishment.

C Tony Mayberry

Former Bucs C Tony Mayberry

Former Bucs C Tony Mayberry – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Mayberry has the distinction of being the first Tampa Bay offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl, which happened in 1997. That kicked off three straight Pro Bowls for Mayberry, which is still the most in franchise history. That makes him the most decorated offensive lineman in Tampa Bay history. He spent all 10 years with the Bucs, first arriving as a fourth-round draft pick in 1990. Mayberry became a starter the next season and didn’t miss a start for nine straight years.

His 145 starts rank were the second-most in team history when he retired in 1999. Now he ranks fifth behind Barber (232), Brooks (221), Paul Gruber (183) and David (149). Mayberry was a key blocker for the Bucs’ WD-40 running game that featured Pro Bowlers Warrick Dunn and Mike Alstott. Gene Deckerhoff’s legendary phrase, “Alstott up the gut!” is a tribute to Mayberry’s blocking. Mayberry helped the Bucs make the playoffs in 1997 and ‘99 and win an NFC Central title.

LB Lavonte David

Bucs LB Lavonte David and CB Jamel Dean

Bucs LB Lavonte David and CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: USA Today

David turned 32 in January and is entering the final year of his contract. Even if he signs another extension and plays for two more seasons and retires at age 35, he’s still on this list. Because immediately after his retirement the Glazers should do for David what they did for Arians – induct him into the Bucs Ring of Honor. That would happen in 2025 if he played three more seasons in Tampa Bay.

While David has only made one Pro Bowl, he’s been on three All-Pro teams, including during the 2020 season when he helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. He’s recorded eight 100-tackle seasons in his 10 years in Tampa Bay so far. With 1,222 career tackles, David also has the opportunity to move past Barber (1,428) and into second place on the Bucs’ all-time tackle list behind Brooks (2,198).

David is firmly entrenched as the second-best linebacker in Bucs history. His 149 starts are the fourth-most in team history and he has a chance at catching Gruber (183) over the next three years. David will make the Bucs’ Ring of Honor. It’s only a matter of when.

Does Gerald McCoy Deserve It?

And finally, I would not object if the Glazers wanted to induct former defensive tackle Gerald McCoy into the Bucs Ring of Honor at some point. But I’m not going to campaign for him.

McCoy is one of the more decorated Buccaneers with six Pro Bowl berths. However, he didn’t make his mark on Tampa Bay’s record book nor did McCoy play on a playoff team. McCoy ranks fourth in team sacks with 54.5 sacks and never had a double-digit sack season in his career.

He was one of the better players on some lousy Bucs teams. But all McCoy has are personal accolades. To me, that’s not enough.

FAB 4. Licht’s Best Draft Picks In Every Round

Jason Licht has built a Super Bowl winner and an NFC powerhouse roster in his eight years as the Bucs general manager. His roster creation skills helped attract future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and Licht has drafted nine Pro Bowlers. With the 2022 NFL Draft just three weeks away, let’s take a look at Licht’s best draft picks in each round.

First Round – WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Licht has absolutely exceled in drafting in the first round. He’s drafted five players that have made at least one Pro Bowl in the eight first-round picks Licht has had. Granted, quarterback Jameis Winston (2015) was one of them, but Licht’s best first-rounder was his first one. The other Pro Bowlers are nose tackle Vita Vea (2018), inside linebacker Devin White (2019) and right tackle Tristan Wirfs (2020).

Evans, a four-time Pro Bowler, is a likely Hall Famer. He’s had eight straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his NFL career. And Evans has become the Bucs’ all-time leading receiver (606 catches for 9,301 yards) and touchdown producer (75). He has rewritten Tampa Bay’s record book and has surpassed Mike Alstott as the franchise’s all-time best weapon. Wirfs might end up being on Evans’ level one day, but Evans has quite a head start.

Second Round – LG Ali Marpet

Finding a franchise left tackle in the second round like Donovan Smith (2015) is quite a coup. Left tackle is one of the premium positions in all of football. Smith has already earned a second contract and helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2020. But as good as Smith has become, Marpet has been better. The fact that Licht took a chance on a player from tiny Hobart College makes Marpet’s success even sweeter.

Picked a few picks spots after Smith, Marpet quickly developed into one of the best guards in the NFL. He played right guard and center before finding a home at left guard where he finally made a long overdue Pro Bowl last season. After helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV and record a franchise-record 13 wins in the regular season, Marpet retired on top this offseason.

Third Round – WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: USA Today

The percentage of finding a star player in the third round is significantly lower than the first two rounds. But Licht did just that. Godwin has become a two-time 1,000-yard receiver and was a Pro Bowler in 2019. He’s been a perfect fit as a slot receiver in Bruce Arians’ system, which has made him the primary target on offense.

Godwin earned the franchise tag after helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. Despite tearing his ACL near the end of the 2021 season, he still led Tampa Bay with a career-high 98 catches for yards 1,103 yards. That allowed Godwin to cash in on a three-year deal worth $20 million per season.

Fourth Round – SS Jordan Whitehead

While middle linebacker Kwon Alexander (2015) made the Pro Bowl in 2017 and was a four-year starter, he tore his ACL six games into his final season in Tampa Bay. Alexander led the team in tackles with 145 stops, including a league-high 108 solo stops. But Whitehead, a fourth-rounder in 2018, has been slightly better.

Whitehead became a starter as a rookie with 11 starts. He’s had four seasons with 69 tackles each season in Tampa Bay as the team’s strong safety. Whitehead’s hard-hitting ways and ability to make some splash plays helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV in 2020 and an NFC South championship last year. He left the Bucs in free agency this offseason for a richer payday in New York with the Jets.

Fifth Round – K Matt Gay

The pickings are slim when it comes to the Bucs’ successful fifth-round picks. Of course the chances of most fifth-rounders sticking around past a year or two are quite slim, too. Kevin Pamphile (2014) was a nondescript two-year starter at guard. Caleb Benenoch (2016) each got a few emergency starts along the offensive line. But the selection of Gay in 2019 was a bit bold, especially since Licht failed miserably with his drafting of kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016.

Gay won the kicking duties and connected on 77.1 percent of his field goals and 89.6 percent of his extra points. There were some painful misses against the Giants and Falcons, but Gay has moved on to the Rams where he became a great kicker in 2020 (87.5 percent). Gay became a Pro Bowler in 2021 (94.1 percent) in helping L.A. beat the Bucs and win a Super Bowl. While he’s no longer helping the Bucs, Licht nailed the talent.

Sixth Round – WR Scotty Miller

Bucs WR Scotty Miller

Bucs WR Scotty Miller – Photo by: USA Today

Sixth-round picks have even less of a chance of making the team than fifth-rounders. Miller (2019) is the clear-cut winner amongst a group of sixth-rounders that either didn’t make the team or didn’t make an impact. He caught a career-high 33 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns in 2020. Miller came up with one of the greatest plays in Bucs history – a 39-yard touchdown right before halftime at Green Bay. That play helped Tampa Bay win the NFC Championship Game.

Seventh Round – LB Grant Stuard

The success rate for seventh-round picks is just about non-existent in the NFL. Out of Licht’s seven seventh-round picks, Stuard, his most recent one, stands out. Stuard was Mr. Irrelevant last year, but went on to lead the Bucs in special teams tackles with 12 plus a forced fumble. He also notched a team-high three special teams stops in the postseason. Licht feels like Stuard can develop into a Pro Bowl-caliber special teamer.

FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

UConn DT Travis Jones

UConn DT Travis Jones – Photo by: UConn

• NEW PEWTER REPORT 2022 BUCS 7-ROUND MOCK DRAFT IS UP: Be sure to check out Pewter Report’s 2022 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft 4.0, which was published on Thursday. The latest PR mock draft features three new defensive players, including UConn defensive tackle Travis Jones at No. 27.

Pewter Report’s 2022 Draft Previews + Bucs’ Best Bets series begins Sunday, April 17. Our new and final 2022 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft will be published on Sunday, April 24 prior to NFL Draft weekend, which begins on Thursday, April 28. Pewter Report will also be having its annual Draft Show on our PewterReportTV YouTube channel live from the AdventHealth Training Center from April 28-30.

• HARDWARE IN THE BUCS RING OF HONOR: We’ve campaigned on social media before for running back James Wilder to become inducted in the Bucs Ring of Honor. Now Pewter Report is doing that for Bucs legendary linebacker Hardy Nickerson.

• NEAL SIGNING WAS BIG, BUT DIDN’T COME WITH A BIG PRICE TAG: The Athletic’s Greg Auman reported that new strong safety Keanu Neal was signed for one year at the league minimum for veterans. Not only will Neal help the Bucs as Jordan Whitehead’s replacement, he’ll also help Tampa Bay’s salary cap in 2022.

• BUCS COACHING CHANGE COVERAGE ON THE PEWTER REPORT PODCAST: The Pewter Report Podcast is energized by CELSIUS and broadcasts four live episodes each week. Pewter Report Podcasts typically air on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:00 pm EST in the offseason.

On Monday, Jon Ledyard and Scott Reynolds discussed how Todd Bowles might impact the Bucs’ draft process, and looked at possible first-round picks for Tampa Bay.

Tuesday’s episode featured Reynolds, Josh Queipo, Kasey Hudson and J.C. Allen all discussing what would make Todd Bowles successful in Tampa Bay.

On Wednesday, Matt Matera and Reynolds analyzed the re-signing of Blaine Gabbert and how that will affect Kyle Trask, in addition to the surprise signing of Keanu Neal.

Ledyard, Matera and Hudson all discussed the addition of Neal and how that impacts Tampa Bay’s defense.

celsiusWatch the Pewter Report Podcasts live on our PewterReportTV channel on YouTube.com and please subscribe (it’s free) and add your comments. We archive all Pewter Report Podcasts. So you can watch the recorded episodes if you missed them live.

There is no better time to listen to or watch a new Pewter Report Podcast – energized by CELSIUS – than Friday afternoon on the way home from work. Or early Saturday morning during your workout or while running errands.

The popularity of the Pewter Report Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Report Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. And of course the Pewter Report Podcast is also available on iTunes and YouTube. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.

• BUCS GET A GREAT VALUE PICK UP IN OT JOHNSON: The Athletic’s Greg Auman has the financial details regarding the contract of new Bucs offensive tackle Fred Johnson. He’ll compete with Josh Wells for a backup role in Tampa Bay.

Johnson has both the scouting staff and the coaching staff excited. They might have found a real gem in this young lineman.

• NEAL’S HIGHLIGHT REEL: Check out this highlight reel of former Cowboys linebacker and Falcons safety Keanu Neal. This physical defender was signed by the Bucs this week to play strong safety.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th 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 coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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3rd String Kicker
3rd String Kicker
1 month ago

That would make for an interesting debate with Gerald McCoy and the Ring of Honor. The lack of Playoff appearance and double digit sack years make for an excellent argument against, moreover, joining a division rival immediately after leaving. Many will suggest it was not personal, but I would disagree with his skillset and talent, he could have played anywhere. I would be on the naysayer side of the argument sadly.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  3rd String Kicker
1 month ago

Gerald McCoy was a good player, but not good enough to make it in the Ring of Honor; at least not in the next several years. Too many Super Bowl Players should go before him; Nickerson, Rice, Brady, Wilder, David, Marpet, Smith, Godwin, Mayberry, Jensen, whenever Wirfs retires,

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

I would say that he was clearly better than “good”. Dude was an all pro three times and a pro bowler 6 times. And every one of those was well deserved. That said, I do think there can be more to it than that. Outside of overall team success, it certainly feels like McCoy’s tenure in Tampa lacked something. He doesn’t inspire even nearly unanimous support for something like the Ring of Honor, and that alone may be enough for me to say he shouldn’t make it. Had he been truly great just a bit longer, or even just good… Read more »

fredster
fredster
1 month ago

I’d say no to Mccoy. Guy just always rubbed me wrong. Big baby imo. Didn’t hurt Arians best record here having the GOAT. Lol. Not sure he’s the best Bucs coach ever, but I can’t argue too much he not been either.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

I don’t want to dive too heavily into debates, but it feels like Scott conflates BEST with MOST SUCCESSFUL on the Arians thing. Which isn’t to say that I think Arians isn’t a really good coach. But, as an example, finishing with the best winning percentage all time doesn’t prove he’s the best head coach in team history. Nor does winning a SB. Neither of things happen without Brady picking Tampa, something Arians had little to do with. If Brady doesn’t come here, and Arians put up 7-10 wins per year for four years to finish right around .500 overall,… Read more »

Buc76
Buc76
1 month ago

you will not have enough room if you keep putting too many people in the Ring of Honor. There is only 1 side of the stadium left. No people anymore from losing teams. You need to think about the future. Lavonte yes years from now. Arians yes. None of the others.

WVBuc
WVBuc
Reply to  Buc76
1 month ago

A special thing about rings is two or three can fit in the same place. I suppose this comes down to is a ring of honor subject to hall of fame criteria. James Wilder was never on track to Cooperstown. He was, however, one of the finest Buccaneers. The lean years don’t have many candidates but Wilder should be recognized IMO. I’m not interested in seeing dozens of numbers retired but I wouldn’t mind having a ring of honor with a top and bottom. Assuming the NFL continues play for the next few centuries, there’s eventually going to be many… Read more »

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Buc76
1 month ago

Wouldn’t that be a nice problem to have … too many great players to fit in the Ring of Honor!

We can always add a second ring, like the Stanley Cup.

Dude
Dude
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Or you could add a digital board where a series of names flash at one time, then the next, ect… This would solve the room problem, if it would ever come to that.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dude
1 month ago

That is tacky as hell, and not remotely the same as a name physically affixed to a part of the stadium wall, lol. I would argue that there may be paths to creating space for names, but that definitely ain’t it, lol.

WVBuc
WVBuc
1 month ago

The Fred Johnson Twitter clips back up the reputation he is a road grader in the running game. The 2nd tweet and the first play of the 3rd tweet are the same play from different angles. Mr Johnson and Mr Jensen on the same line could be apocalyptic.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  WVBuc
1 month ago

Seems clear he’s been signed purely as depth. Not bad depth to have, mind you. And also, for the packages this team likes to run with a 6th OL checked in as a TE in big packages, I think Johnson is the runaway #1 candidate to fill that role, and to fill it well. If Johnson is even nearly as good as those Twitter highlights and his PFF score make him out to be, then he would constitute easily the best tackle depth this team has had in a while. Very nice, and important, to have, and even more so… Read more »

Horse
Horse
1 month ago

I still have doubts Bowles will be a good HC because he didn’t give up his defense play calling. There was no need for him to keep it. His play calling isn’t special, adequate yes. I would hope for Bucs long term success, he passes it on in 2023. Very surprised he didn’t understand this the second go around.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

I don’t get why it is a problem for the head coach who called the plays on the fifth best defense in the league last season wants to continue calling defensive plays, especially when he has a proven excellent offensive play caller to take care of that side of the ball. And when he has continuity with his existing staff on both sides of the ball.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

We don’t outright agree often, but yea, I’m with you – this is a bad take in multiple ways. For one, overall, Bowles is a really good playcaller. For another, he’s also a very UNIQUE playcaller, which means that he’s difficult to replicate. And, as you pointed out, I think he will essentially leave the offense alone for the most part, as he should. If he had proven playcalling coaches on the defensive side of the ball to take over for him, I’d probably prefer he give that up and trust them, the same way Arians did when he came… Read more »

matador
matador
1 month ago

I’m just not sure how you separate the contributions of TB12 (plus Gronk and Lenny) from Arians’ accomplishments. Just like all of the other great QBs. Elway & Shanahan? Favre & McCarthy? Manning & Dungy? Manning and Kubiak? Sure each coach brought something to the equation but without their HOF counterparts it’s hard to say we would be talking about their greatness.

drdneast
drdneast
1 month ago

If the Bucs put McCoy into the Ring Of Honor he will be the first woman inducted and earn that prestige.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Such a weird and stupid insult.

drdneast
drdneast
1 month ago

Stuard definitely came on as a good special teams player about midway through the season. Good for him. He has a great story to tell about getting to th NFL.

compewterpirate
compewterpirate
1 month ago

The idea that Gerald McCoy somehow deserves to make the Bucs Ring of Honor is a fallacy. The Ring of Honor should be reserved for truly elite players in the history of the franchise, otherwise it just diminishes the accolade. Players such as Lee Roy, Giles, Sapp, Brooks, Lynch, Barber, Alstott, etc. Part of being an elite player is individual production, but part of it is elevating the play of those around you in the attainment of team goals. Hardy is a good example of that. Gerald is not. Other than Pro Bowls, I cannot think of any criteria, tangible… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  compewterpirate
1 month ago

3 all pro teams don’t hurt. Being basically our entire pass rush, singlehandedly, for his entire time here. Not saying he necessarily should get in, but to say that Pro Bowls are the ONLY point in his favor is false.

scubog
scubog
1 month ago

A lot of good topics to debate Scott. For the folks who think there’s not enough room at the stadium; there’s plenty of space around the middle tier. Regardless of that, I’ve always believed the honor should be reserved for those truly special. Before much more time passes, James Wilder, Hardy Nickerson and Simeon Rice should take their spot. Not so sure about Shelton Quarles as a player, but maybe as a long time contributor to the organization. I really think the retiring Gene Deckerhoff, and perhaps one day Rick Stroud, should be recognized in some fashion. Maybe even a… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  scubog
1 month ago

I get the Donald over Evans appeal, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t go back and do it any differently. Donald is a better and more valuable player. But Mike is maybe the best offensive player in team history. And one of the most likable Buccaneers of all time, in basically every way. Donald might go down as arguably the greatest defensive player of all time. For his part, with his still fairly young age, Mike has a chance to finish damn high on the all time yardage and TD lists among WRs himself, and he’s on a HOF… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 month ago

I really like Mike Evans too and glad we ended up with him both as a player and member of our community.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
1 month ago

Sports commentary is all about arguments, whether at the sports bar after a few beers, or sitting at home banging away on a keyboard. Everyone is convinced their opinion of a given player is 100% correct, and all other opinions are nutty. SOP. I really don’t give a damn about such arguments. The thing I care about most is that the team I care about wins games and championships, regardless of the players or the coaches who are constantly arriving and departing. And secondarily, I care next most that the team is fun to watch while winning those games and… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

You sure do talk an absurdly large amount around here for someone who doesn’t care to talk sports.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
1 month ago

There will come a point in time, and it may have already come, that there will be no more past Bucs added to the ROH. It feels likely, whether we agree with it or not, that that point has already come. I’d say that Nickerson and Rice have strong cases. Wilder, Quarles, and Mayberry are never gonna happen, and they shouldn’t, either. But it feels probable to me at this point that none of them will. And honestly, that’s okay. The Ring is already filling up. I mean, I love Monte, but we just inducted a defensive coordinator. Come on.… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  toofamiliar17
1 month ago

I totally agree that a place in the ROH should be something very special and not awarded willy-nilly. Doesn’t even need to be done on an annual basis. In my view James Wilder absolutely should be honored. Anyone who witnessed him would agree. There’s certainly sufficient space. Who knows? Our stadium is already approaching 25 years old and bears little resemblance to the grotesque ones being built nowadays.

magoobee
magoobee
1 month ago

The Best Bucs HC and GM has been Brady. Without him Licht is a loser and Arians does not come close to getting a Super Bowl in Tampa.