SR’s Fab 5 is exclusively sponsored by Edmonson Electric • AC • Security –the official smart home and security company of PewterReport.com
Table of Contents
For the past 40 years, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security has proudly served central Florida with electric services and now proud to add state-of-the-art “Smart Home” technology, security systems and air conditioning to its roster.
Whether it’s surveillance cameras, home theaters, or smart lighting, Edmonson Electric • AC • Security is automating your dream home. Visit EdmonsonElectric.com to find out more about controlling, monitoring and securing your home or call 813.910.3403 for additional information.
Control. Monitor. Secure.
FAB 1. The Bucs Using Franchising Tag On Godwin Makes Sense
Part of the reason why the Bucs will use the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin instead of outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett this year is because Tampa Bay wants to be extremely sensitive about how much Godwin is paid.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has gushed about how much Godwin means to the offense because he’s a tremendous blocker in the slot, especially when he motions across the formation, in addition to being a play-making pass catcher.
“He brings so much more than targets,” Arians said. “When you look at what he does as an outside receiver and a slot receiver, he’s so unique in that regard, and then you put the blocking in there. He’s a huge part of what we do offensively. It’s more than stats. It’s also what the guy brings to the huddle. I think with all these guys, each and every one is so different because of what they bring into the huddle, but Chris is very, very unique.”
But the reality is that as good as Godwin is, he’s not Mike Evans.
Evans is the Bucs’ franchise player on offense not named Tom Brady.
The seven-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowler cemented his Hall of Fame status by becoming the first NFL player to record 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first seven seasons, breaking the tie with his idol, Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss.
Evans signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension in 2019 that averages $16.5 million per season. Spotrac has Godwin’s calculated market value at $17.1 million, and the projected franchise tag number for wide receivers in 2021 is expected to be somewhere between $15.7 million to $16.4 million – just under what Evans averages per year. Evans is currently the league’s ninth highest-paid receiver.
I have no doubt that Godwin could average $20 million if he hits free agency. That’s Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper money. Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins is the league’s highest-paid receiver at $27.25 million, which is $5.25 million more per year than Atlanta’s Julio Jones.
So franchising Godwin – assuming the Bucs and the star receiver can’t reach a long-term deal – will essentially save Tampa Bay around $4 million. I also think the Bucs would like to see another 1,000-yard season out of him in 2021.
After recording 59 catches for 842 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018, Godwin had a breakout season in Arians’ first year in Tampa Bay in 2019, setting career highs with 86 catches for 1,333 yards (15.5 avg.) and nine touchdowns. But a concussion, a hamstring injury and a broken index finger this season limited the team’s third-round pick in 2017 to just 12 games where he caught 65 passes for 840 yards (12.9 avg.) and seven touchdowns.
Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
By comparison, Evans caught 70 passes for 1,006 yards and set a franchise record with 13 touchdowns in 2020, but fought through hamstring, ankle and knee injuries to play in all 16 games.
I think Tampa Bay would love to do a long-term deal with Godwin right now for around $16 million per year, but Godwin’s camp probably wants something closer to market value, especially after he led the Bucs with 16 catches for 232 yards in the postseason, and scored one touchdown. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucs want to wait until 2022 to pay Godwin any more – just like they did with Barrett last year when he received the franchise tag.
Speaking of Barrett, how much would you pay Tampa Bay’s outside linebacker, who turns 29 later this year and is once again slated for free agency?
The Bucs applied the linebacker franchise tag worth $15.828 million last year, but Barrett filed a grievance with the NFL, suggesting he should get the $17.788 million that tagged defensive ends make because Tampa Bay often has a four-man rush in nickel pass rush downs despite being a 3-4 team and classifying Barrett as a 3-4 outside linebacker on the depth chart.
The Ravens tried the same thing with outside linebacker Matt Judon last year and they settled on a median amount of $16.808 million. The NFL has yet to hear Barrett’s grievance, and if he prevails he could make nearly $2 million more for his efforts last year with a favorable ruling. Or the league settle on Judon’s number and the Bucs would have to cough up an extra million dollars as a result.
Whatever the outcome is would affect Barrett’s franchise tag number if Tampa Bay would choose to tag him for a second straight year. Per franchise tag rules, the Bucs would have to pay Barrett would he made in 2020 plus an extra 20 percent. That would put Barrett’s number at somewhere between $18.99 million – $21.3 million depending on the ruling of the grievance.
That’s the number Barrett is believed to be looking to average in a long-term deal, and Spotrac has his calculated market value at $19.7 million per year. Barrett has been on record saying that he wants to stay in Tampa Bay, but also “break the bank” with his next contract.
If the Bucs tag Barrett again there is no realized cap savings, while there is about $4 million in cap savings by using the tag on Godwin instead. That’s the smarter cap play for Tampa Bay in 2021. That $4 million can go towards helping re-sign linebacker Lavonte David, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, tight end Rob Gronkowski, kicker Ryan Succop or even Barrett.
But is it a smart move for the Bucs to pay Barrett between $18 million and $20 million per season – especially in a year when his sack production fell from 19.5 in 2019 to just eight in 2020 and he failed to record a sack in half the games he played in?
We’ll examine that in Fab 2 – along with some possible replacements for Barrett should he leave in free agency.
FAB 2. Can The Bucs Replace Barrett If He Departs In Free Agency?
Elite pass rushers don’t grow on trees.
Neither do really good ones. They’re just too hard to find.
Bucs outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett isn’t elite, but he is a really good pass rusher, who happens to want elite pass rusher money.
Barrett has been a tremendous fit in Todd Bowles’ offense and has now been a proven producer for two years in Tampa Bay. After signing a one-year, $4 million prove-it deal with the Bucs after five years in Denver, Barrett exploded for a team-record and league-leading 19.5 sacks with six forced fumbles en route to his first Pro Bowl season.
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
Barrett’s sack production declined sharply in 2020 with just eight, but he still produced 77 pressures last year after recording 82 pressures in 2019. More importantly, Barrett came through in the postseason with a team-high 21 pressures in three playoff games and the Super Bowl, including four sacks and four QB hits in those four games.
After playing for the franchise tag amount of $15.828 million last year, Barrett is looking for multi-year contract and a pay raise after averaging 0.875 sacks per game, including the postseason – from the Bucs or any other NFL team willing to pay him. Spotrac has Barrett’s calculated market value at $19.7 million per year, and there are currently five NFL edge rushers averaging $20 million or more per season, including Chargers OLB Joey Bosa, who averages $27 million per year.
What’s unknown is exactly what Barrett’s demands are and how high the Bucs are willing to go – yet both sides would like to reach a multi-year deal, as using the franchise tag again doesn’t make sense as explained in Fab 1. Muddying the waters a bit is the fact that the 2021 salary cap will plummet from $198 million to somewhere between $180 million to $185 million, which would represent at least a $13 million decrease from the year prior. The salary cap typically increases by $10 million each year, so this year could see a net drop of $23 million or so.
The fact that Barrett isn’t the only other pass rusher on the market is interesting as teams may elect to go with a cheaper option this year out of the gate instead of pursuing Tampa Bay’s top sacker over the last two years right away because of the cap crunch most teams are facing in 2021. If that scenario happens it could actually drive Barrett’s value down.
Yet if Barrett is in demand and does strike it rich and wants to take the money with the Bucs choosing not to match the highest offer he gets, there are other options out there for Tampa Bay to consider. My feeling is that the Bucs will let Barrett hit the start of the legal tampering period of free agency on March 15 to determine his worth, which may be around $19 million or more per year – or it may actually be less.
Let’s examine those other pass-rushing options in case Barrett does hit the market and leave Tampa Bay.
Baltimore OLB Matt Judon – 6-3, 261
Like Barrett, Judon is 28 and was franchised last year by the Ravens, who have stated that they want him back, but likely won’t franchise him again. Spotrac has his calculated market value at $15.6 million per year because he had a down season in which he recorded just six sacks and 21 QB hits in Baltimore. In five years with Ravens, Judon has recorded 34.5 and seven forced fumbles playing in a 3-4 scheme that’s similar to Tampa Bay’s. His best season came in 2019 when he notched a career-high 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Baltimore OLB Yannick Ngakoue – 6-2, 246
Ravens OLB Yannick Ngakoue – Photo by: USA Today
Ngakoue was traded by Jacksonville to Minnesota, who traded him to Baltimore at midseason. He had eight sacks, 13 QB hits and four forced fumbles between the Vikings and Ravens last year and has never had fewer than eight sacks in any season since entering the league in 2016. The 26-year old Ngakoue isn’t as stout against the run like Judon is, but is a turnover machine, forcing 18 fumbles in five seasons, while recovering three and picking off two passes. Spotrac has his market value at $15.5 million and it’s going to be really tough for the Ravens to keep both Ngakoue and Judon. It could be Ngakoue’s turn to get the franchise tag in Baltimore.
Los Angeles OLB Leonard Floyd – 6-5, 240
The 28-year old Floyd was Chicago’s first-round pick in 2016, but left for a one-year, $5 million prove-it deal with the Rams. Floyd had 18.5 sacks in four seasons with the Bears, but notched 10.5 sacks and had 19 QB hits last year in L.A. Floyd is a twitchy athlete that has gotten stronger since entering the NFL, but still has problems with converting speed to power. Spotrac has his calculated market value at $13.1 million per season, which seems fair given the career year he had playing next alongside defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers. However, Floyd could fetch closer to $16 million per year when it’s all said and done, and the Rams might decide to use the franchise tag on him.
Detroit DE Romeo Okwara – 6-4, 264
Okwara is a self-made man after entering the league with the Giants as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2016. He joined the Lions in 2018 and had 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble, but saw his production dip the next year with only 1.5 sacks and one forced fumble. But Okwara, who plays with great energy, came through with a great contract year, recording 10 sacks, 20 QB hits and three forced fumbles, including a sack-fumble against the Bucs in Week 16. Okwara made $2.75 million in 2020 and Spotrac has his market value calculated at $10.1 million per season. The best football might lie ahead of Okwara, especially at the age of 25.
New Orleans DE Trey Hendrickson – 6-4, 270
Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints DE Trey Hendrickson – Photo by: USA Today
Like Arizona’s Hasson Reddick (see below), Hendrickson had a career season in his contract year, recording a team-leading 13.5 sacks, including three against the Bucs, with 25 QB hits and one forced fumble in New Orleans. Hendrickson was a part-time starter for the Saints as Marcus Davenport dealt with injuries early in the season. At 270 pounds, Hendrickson, who has 20 career sacks and three forced fumbles, is 20 pounds bigger than Barrett, yet he’s not necessarily a better run defender. After playing for $793,947 as a former third-round pick he’s ready to cash in on a much larger deal and become a full-time starter. Spotrac has the high-motor Hendrickson’s market value at $10.3 million per season. With the Saints’ salary cap mess there is no way he returns to New Orleans.
Cincinnati DE Carl Lawson – 6-2, 265
Lawson, a fourth-round pick in 2017, had 8.5 sacks as a situational pass-rushing rookie for the Bengals and showed great promise as an edge rusher until an injury limited him to just one sack in seven games in 2018. Lawson continued in his role as a designated pass rusher in 2019, recording five sacks as a part-time player. Lawson started 11 games and produced 5.5 sacks and two forced fumble along with 32 QB hits, which will earn him a significant raise in 2021. The Bengals are contemplating using the franchise tag on Lawson, which would pricey considering he’s only notched 20 sacks and two forced fumbles in 3.5 years. Spotrac has his value at $8.8 million per year.
Arizona OLB Haason Reddick – 6-1, 235
Cardinals OLB Haason Reddick – Photo by: USA Today
Reddick would be a curious option for the Bucs if he makes it to free agency because he’s undersized, weighing about 15 pounds less than Barrett. But Reddick is fast, explosive and strong for his size, turning in a career year for the Cardinals with 12.5 sacks, 18 QB hits and six forced fumbles. Reddick played at Temple, which was Arians’ alma mater, and was Arizona’s first-round pick in 2017, which was Arians’ last year with the Cardinals. Reddick, who has 20 career sacks and nine career forced fumbles, is looking to cash in after his monster year in Arizona, although his size could be a deterrent for some teams. Spotrac has him averaging $11.6 million in terms of market value, yet the Cardinals may apply the franchise tag to him in order to keep the 26-year old playmaker.
Arizona OLB Markus Golden – 6-3, 260
Golden was a second-round pick in 2015 under Bruce Arians and had a great second season, recording 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles before suffering a knee injury in 2017. It took Golden a few years to return to his prior level of production, which he did in New York under former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, recording 10 sacks and recovering a fumble for a touchdown with the Giants in 2019. Golden split time between the Giants and Cardinals in 2020, recording 4.5 sacks with one forced fumble. Spotrac has his projected market value at $13.5 million, which seems awfully high, considering he made $3.75 million last year. Golden is also 29, which will drive his market value down.
So if Barrett’s eventual price tag is too high, who is the best replacement? Hendrickson, Reddick and Okwara might be had for nearly half the price, and the Bucs could use the millions of dollars they save elsewhere to re-sign other free agents. But until I hear that contract talks have broken down between Barrett and the Bucs, I have to believe that he will eventually be re-signed by Tampa Bay.
FAB 3. Free Agent RB Options For Tampa Bay
With Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy, Kenjon Barner and T.J. Logan slated to hit free agency in March over half of the Buccaneers’ backfield could be gone from a year ago, as only Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and newly signed C.J. Prosise are signed for the 2021 campaign.
Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: USA Today
Expect the Bucs to draft a running back in 2021, as it’s a very good crop of rushers, in addition to signing a pass-catching running back to help Tom Brady on third downs. With Tampa Bay signing the 26-year old Fournette to a one-year deal worth $2 million and the 33-year old McCoy to a one-year deal worth $1,050,000, so the Bucs likely won’t want to spend more than $3.5 million on a veteran back.
That eliminates free agents like Green Bay’s Aaron Jones, Seattle’s Chris Carson, Arizona’s Kenyan Drake, Pittsburgh’s James Conner and probably Fournette, too. The Bucs have had the opportunity to sign Le’Veon Bell and Adrian Peterson in free agency in the past, but have passed on both aging runners and likely won’t be considered.
The Bucs wouldn’t mind re-signing Fournette, who flourished in the playoffs with four touchdowns in four postseason games, including the Super Bowl, but he likely wants a full-time starting job elsewhere. Fournette split playing time with Jones during the season and Arians likes to use two backs on a regular basis. Spotrac has Fournette’s market value at $8.1 million per year, which is way too rich for Tampa Bay.
So what veteran, pass-catching running back might be the best fit for the Bucs? Let’s take a look at some of the top free agent options for Tampa Bay.
New England RB James White – 5-10, 205
Patriots RB James White and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
White had a six-year stint playing with Brady in New England and the two have a great chemistry. White has rushed for 1,240 yards and 10 touchdowns, while averaging 4.0 yards per carry in his seven-year career as the Patriots’ third-down back. More importantly, White has 369 career catches for 3,184 yards and 25 touchdowns. White had peak production in 2018 when he rushed for 425 yards and a TD along with 87 catches for 751 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. His production dipped without Brady on the roster last year, as he totaled 49 receptions for 375 yards and one score with 121 yards on the ground and two TDs. White made $4 million last year and could come to Tampa Bay for less for a chance to reunite with Brady.
New York Giants RB Dion Lewis – 5-8, 195
White isn’t the only former Patriots running back that could be interested in playing with Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski again. While Rex Burkhead suffered a torn ACL injury in Week 11 last year in New England, Lewis, who played with Brady and the Patriots from 2015-17, is also headed to free agency. Lewis spent two seasons with Tennessee from 2018-19 and was with the New York Giants last year, catching a touchdown pass against Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football. Lewis rushed for 896 yards and six TDs in 2017 with the Patriots, and caught 32 passes for 214 yards and three scores that year, but at age 31 he’s no longer that caliber of player. Lewis had 115 yards rushing and two TDs last year for the Giants and caught 19 passes for 127 yards and a score in 2020. He made $1.55 million last year and would be a cheaper alternative than White.
Carolina RB Mike Davis – 5-9, 221
At age 28, Davis is a younger, better runner than either White or Lewis and could be more of a replacement for Fournette than McCoy, as he rushed for a career-high 642 yards and six touchdowns last year. Davis also showed three-down back potential, catching 59 passes for 373 yards and two scores, including eight catches for 74 yards in Week 2 against Tampa Bay. Davis made $3 million last year and will want a pay increase, but he might not get it. That’s about all the Bucs would want to pay for a pass-catching running back, but he would have more versatility as a runner than either White or Lewis.
Green Bay RB Jamaal Williams – 6-0, 213
Packers RB Jamaal Williams – Photo by: USA Today
Williams has played second fiddle to Jones in Green Bay over the last four years, and the appeal to Tampa Bay is that he is comfortable splitting carries. He’s rushed for no less than 460 yards in any of his four seasons in the NFL, and has totaled 1,985 rushing yards and 10 TDs in his career. Williams has also had no less than 25 catches for 210 yards in any season, and has 122 receptions for 961 yards (7.9 avg.) with eight TDs in his career. Last year, Williams ran for 505 yards and two scores while averaging 4.2 yards, and caught 31 passes for 236 yards (7.6 avg.) and one TD. The 25-year old Williams made $741,498 in 2020 and will want a bigger role and more money elsewhere.
San Francisco RB Jerick McKinnon – 5-9, 205
The Bucs were interested in signing McKinnon when he was a free agent in 2018, but he opted for the 49ers instead. McKinnon missed his first two years in San Francisco due to knee injuries before returning to action in 2020. He ran for 319 yards and five scores last year and caught 33 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown last season. In his last season in Minnesota in 2017, McKinnon ran for 570 yards and three TDs and caught 51 receptions for 421 yards and two scores. He made $1.16 million last year and at age 28 with his injury history, he should be a cheap signing in free agency.
FAB 4. Predicting The Bucs’ 2021 Prime Time TV Games
For the first time in franchise history, the Buccaneers received five prime time games during the 2020 regular season due to the arrival of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay the Bucs weren’t quite ready for prime time, going 1-3 in those games, losing on Thursday Night Football at Chicago, 20-19, losing at home to New Orleans on Sunday Night Football, 38-3, and also at home on Monday Night Football to the Los Angeles Rams, 27-24.
Tampa Bay’s lone prime time win came at New York on Monday Night Football as the Bucs beat the Giants, 25-23. The Bucs were supposed to play the Raiders in Las Vegas on Sunday Night Football, but due to a COVID-19 outbreak, that game was pushed out of prime time. Tampa Bay won anyways, 45-20.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Guess what? Having Brady back in 2021 and winning Super Bowl LV will guarantee that the Bucs get five prime time games again this year. Because they are the Super Bowl champions, Tampa Bay will start the season at home in prime time on Thursday Night Football.
Who will be the Bucs’ opponent? Which other Bucs games could get slated for prime time in 2021? Let’s take a look.
Here are Tampa Bay’s 2021 opponents.
Bucs’ 2021 Opponents – Home
New York Giants
New Orleans Saints
Bucs’ 2021 Opponents – Away
Washington Football Team
Los Angeles Rams
New England Patriots
New York Jets
New Orleans Saints
Of these games, the big-time draws in terms of TV viewership or compelling opponents due to interesting storylines, such as Brady’s return to New England, or competitive, playoff-caliber opponents are the Patriots, Rams, Bills, Saints, Cowboys, Bears, Giants and Dolphins.
The NFC South figures to be down this year with the expected retirement of Drew Brees in New Orleans, Atlanta having a new coaching staff and Carolina still a downtrodden team – unless it can swing a trade for a marquee quarterback like Houston’s Deshaun Watson or Seattle’s Russell Wilson. It’s not uncommon for divisional foes to square off in the Thursday night kickoff game, as it happened in 2008, 2012 and 2019.
I could see the Bucs hosting the Saints in a playoff rematch to kickoff the 2021 season, or a big market team like the Giants or Bears to insure big TV ratings. The Bucs’ games against the Bears and the Giants were very close last year, but I’m going to go with New Orleans for the season home opener.
Tampa Bay at New England seems destined for prime time with the Brady vs. Bill Belichick storyline, as does Los Angeles hosting Tampa Bay, as the recent Bucs vs. Rams games over the last two years have been close and entertaining. Tampa Bay and Los Angeles are both favorites to make the playoffs, too.
Bucs LBs Lavonte David and Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The other two prime time games I see happening for the Bucs in 2021 are Tampa Bay hosting Dallas and Miami either on Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football. The Cowboys are always a great prime time draw for ratings and should be better with a healthy Dak Prescott under center. A Dolphins vs. Bucs game would be a great regional contest with national appeal, pitting an up-and-coming AFC team against the Super Bowl champs.
While a game against the AFC runner-up Bills would also be interesting to see in prime time, CBS will want a marquee match-up on its network just like last year when the Chiefs traveled to Tampa Bay for a 4:25 p.m. kickoff. And Fox will want some good TV draws for some 4:25 p.m. kickoffs too, and having the Bears and Giants on their network would be great for ratings with the New York and Chicago markets.
Bucs vs. Saints – Thursday Night Football season kickoff Bucs at Patriots – Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football Bucs at Rams – Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football Bucs vs. Cowboys – Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football Bucs vs. Dolphins – Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football
Those are my guesses for Tampa Bay’s five prime time TV games in 2021. The NFL schedule will come out in April the week before the NFL Draft and we’ll see if my predictions were right.
FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots
• COSELL ALL ABOARD THE J-WILL TRAIN: It’s not just Pewter Report that is high on North Carolina running back Javonte Williams, who is our current pick for Tampa Bay at No. 32 in our initial 2021 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft. NFL Films’ legendary analyst Greg Cosell is also a huge Williams fan and has him as his No. 1-rated running back in the 2021 NFL Draft ahead of Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Alabama’s Najee Harris.
Is @GregCosell the only evaluator to mention this guy first when asked about the best back in the 2021 NFL Draft?
• FRESH EDITIONS OF PEWTER REPORT PODCAST: The Pewter Report Podcast is energized by CELSIUS and broadcasts four live episodes each week in the offseason – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at our original 4:00 p.m. ET time slot. Here are the four latest editions of the Pewter Report Podcast to watch in case you missed an episode.
PewterReport.com’s Jon Ledyard and Mark Cook evaluate the Bucs’ offseason options on offense in Monday’s Pewter Report Podcast.
Scott Reynolds joins Jon Ledyard in breaking down the defensive side of the ball for the Bucs in this offseason option analysis podcast on Tuesday.
Bucs general manager Jason Licht and head coach Bruce Arians held a Zoom press conference with Tampa Bay media on Wednesday and Pewter Reporters Jon Ledyard and Scott Reynolds offer up a recap and analysis of what was said.
PewterReport.com’s Jon Ledyard and The Draft Network’s Jordan Reid talked about the 2021 NFL Draft on Thursday’s Pewter Report Podcast.
Watch the Pewter Report Podcasts live on our PewterReportTV channel on YouTube.com and please subscribe (it’s free) and add your comments. All of our Pewter Report Podcasts will be archived there so you can go back and watch the recorded episodes if you missed it live.
The audio versions of the Pewter Report Podcasts will can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. 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.
• WHO WAS THE FIRST BLACK QB TO START IN TAMPA BAY? As Black History Month draws to a close, no NFL franchise has done more to break down barriers when it comes to African-Americans than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not only are the Bucs the first franchise to draft three Black QBs in the first round in Doug Williams (1977), Josh Freeman (2009) and Jameis Winston (2015), as well as hire three Black head coaches in Tony Dungy (1996), Raheem Morris (2009) and Lovie Smith (2014), they also are the only NFL team to have all four coordinators be persons of color. Bruce Arians’ offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, running game coordinator and assistant head coach Harold Goodwin, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong are all African-American.
But while most people think that Williams was the first Black quarterback to start for the Bucs it was actually Parnell Dickinson, who played in eight games and started one for Tampa Bay in 1976 as a seventh-round draft pick. Dickinson, who was a rookie from Mississippi Valley State, completed 38.5 percent of his passes for 210 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions in the Bucs’ inaugural season. He was also sacked 14 times behind a porous offensive line. Williams would take over as the starter in 1977 after arriving from Grambling.
• BUCS’ GREAT WHITE ON NFL NETWORK: Bucs inside linebacker Devin White is always a joy to watch on and off the field. So don’t miss White’s great interview with NFL Network’s Willie McGinest. Lots of good stuff in this one.
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@example.com