The retirement of Tom Brady and no obvious replacement leaves Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a precarious situation as Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask battle it out for the starting quarterback job. Tampa Bay is coming off back-to-back NFC South Division titles, but when it comes to the NFL predictions, expectations are pretty low heading into the 2023 season.
There has been quite the roster turnover since Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl following the 2020 season and it is about time to see how the team has drafted in the last few years as those players could be playing larger roles this season. The NFL picks have Tampa Bay a distant fourth at +800 to win the NFC South Division title.
Tampa Bay opens the season against defending NFC North Division champion Minnesota with the NFL spreads listing the Buccaneers as 6½-point underdogs versus the Vikings in Week 1.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Yay or Nay?
Receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs, Ryan Jensen, and Aaron Stinnie, linebackers Lavonte Davis, Devin White, and Shaquil Barrett, safety Antoine Winfield Jr., and cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean are the only players still on the roster who started for Tampa Bay in Super Bowl LV.
There are multiple holes to be filled so there is more to consider than just who will win the quarterback job. Tampa Bay used its last three top picks to select defensive linemen so it will be time for Joe Tyron and Logan Hall to take things to the next level.
Mayfield is a former No. 1 overall pick so the issue is not a lack of talent, but questions about his maturity. Perhaps being with his fourth team in the last three seasons will change his focus as well as his quest to beat out Trask, a former second-round pick.
Kyle Trask 60+ yard touchdown to Trey Palmer with Sauce Gardner in coverage. 👀🤫
— Buccaneers Post (@BuccaneersPostt) August 16, 2023
Take A Look At These Other 2 NFL Special Articles
Three Players to Watch
Mayfield has a way of attracting attention, just not always the kind that he is looking for. Evans and Godwin and promising tight end Cade Otton give either Mayfield or Trask plenty of talent to work with. Receiver Russell Gage went down in practice and there have been reports that it is a season-ending injury and that would be a big blow. Neither quarterback was overly impressive in the preseason open so the final few weeks before the start of the regular season will be rather interesting.
Wirfs has been one of the top right tackles in the NFL since being taken 13th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. With the inconsistent Donovan Smith gone, Wirfs has moved over to left tackle. He has hired a therapist to help him with the mental part of the move. Obviously, protecting the quarterback is imperative so watching how Wirfs adapts to the move will be a key part of this season.
When Vita Vea is healthy, he is a wrecking ball. If you pop in tape from the Buccaneer’s Super Bowl run, Vea was clearing the way for linebacker Devin White and Lavonte David to make play after play. Vea can’t be blocked by one offensive linemen when healthy. Keeping him on the field will be crucial, especially since he is surrounded by some young and unproven defensive linemen.
According to NFL lines, Tampa Bay is priced at +375 to make the playoffs and that is not exactly a ringing endorsement for the roster that has been put together. Only the Arizona Cardinals have longer odds to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and those who bet online don’t have much confidence in Tampa Bay in the first season without Brady running the offense. The best NFL odds are for Tampa Bay to win either six or seven regular-season games. Having to play a first-place schedule doesn’t help the Buccaneers.
Having to play Minnesota, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Buffalo in the first seven games of the season is not ideal. The good news is that none of the other NFC South teams look unbeatable.