TAMPA, Fla. — Tuesday, the entire roster for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will report to training camp ahead to begin preparations for another possible Super Bowl run. But unlike last year, the team has questions at several positions that will have to be answered in camp.
Perhaps the biggest question mark for the Bucs will be along the offensive line. The team lost both starting guards Alex Cappa (free agency) and Ali Marpet (retirement) from last year's team.
Replacing Cappa and Marpet will be Shaq Mason, acquired in a trade from New England, and possibly either Aaron Stinnie or rookie Luke Goedeke. Mason has played in front of future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady for years, and Stinnie played last season. Goedeke, if he develops, could be a long-term solution for the Bucs.
In addition to the offensive line, Tampa Bay has a huge hole to fill at the tight end position. Future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, and O.J. Howard wasn't retained by the team.
The Bucs signed free agent tight end Kyle Rudolph to help fill the hole left by Gronk. The long-time veteran is a solid addition if he can stay healthy and may pair well with returning veteran Cameron Brate to give the Bucs a solid pair of tight ends to play on the line.
Another offensive issue the Bucs will have to deal with is the reported weight of starting running back Leonard Fournette. He allegedly reported to a mandatory minicamp at 260 pounds (though he said he was at 240). Either way, getting Fournette in playing shape will be a huge mission for the coaching staff.
On the wide receiver front, the Buccaneers return two superstar receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who is returning from an injury and may be placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list to start camp. Still, Godwin may be ready for Week 1 of the regular season in September.
The Bucs added wide receiver Russell Gage as a third target for Brady, and he also returns Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Breshad Perriman on the outside, though all may not make the final regular season roster.
The one certain on the offensive side of the ball will be quarterback Tom Brady. After briefly retiring earlier this year, he announced he was playing again to the delight of Bucs fans and coaches. Brady has not shown any signs of decline and is expected to be a top-tier QB even at the age of 45.
Defensively, the Bucs will have plenty of new pieces to throw at opposing offenses this season after spending draft capital and salary cap space to bolster the d.
The Bucs signed defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, safety Keanu Neal, and defensive back Logan Ryan in the offseason. The Bucs then used their first draft pick in April on defensive lineman Logan Hall.
Along the line, Hicks, Hall, William Gholston, and star defensive tackle Vita Vea could form quite a rotation in the Bucs' typical 3-4 alignment.
At the linebacker position, the Bucs return stars Lavonte David and Devin White inside. Gone will be last year's starting outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who wasn't brought back by the Bucs.
But, on the outside, the Bucs will have Shaquil Barrett and last year's first-round pick, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. If Tryon-Shoyinka can take another step forward, the Bucs' linebackers will again be a strength of the team.
Still, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Bucs add another outside linebacker during training camp for depth.
Finally, in the secondary, the Bucs bring back Jamel Dean, Carlton Davis III, and Sean Murphy-Bunting at cornerback. If Neal can stay healthy, he'll bring a great veteran presence to go along with newly signed Logan Ryan and returning starter Antoine Winfield, Jr.
The defense will be tested A LOT this season. The Bucs will face quarterbacks, including Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Matthew Stafford, all before the team's bye week in late November!