A year ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers returned all 22 starters on offense and defense coming off the franchise’s second Super Bowl title. It is going to be a different deal in 2022.
The retirement of guard Ali Marpet was the biggest surprise. Quarterback Tom Brady briefly retired before coming back. His longtime preferred receiving target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is not going to return for a third season with Tampa Bay. Running back Ronald Jones and safety Jordan Whitehead have moved on.
Tampa Bay faces three playoff teams in the first four games of the season, beginning with a matchup at Dallas in Week 1 and including back-to-back games against Green Bay and Kansas City.
The Buccaneers (-325) are favored in the odds to win the NFC South Division title according to the NFL predictions. Tampa Bay is coming off its first division title since 2007 and now the Buccaneers are trying to win back-to-back division championships for the first time in franchise history.
Tampa Bay (+750) has the best odds among NFC teams in the odds to win the Super Bowl, according to the NFL playoff odds.
- 2021 record: 13-4 (first in NFC South)
- Playoff result: Lost to the Los Angeles Rams 30-27 in the NFC Divisional Round.
- Season opener: at Dallas Cowboys, Sept. 11, 8:20 p.m. EDT
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Cincinnati, Green Bay, Kansas City, Los Angeles Rams; AWAY – Arizona, Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
- Key newcomers: WR Julio Jones, WR Russell Gage, DL Akiem Hicks, OL Shaq Mason, OL Fred Johnson, TE Kyle Rudolph, S Keanu Neal, CB Logan Ryan, DL Logan Hall (second-round pick), OT Luke Goedeke (second-round pick), RB Rachaad White (third-round pick), TE Cade Otton (fourth-round pick), P Jake Camarda (fourth-round pick).
- Key losses: TE Rob Gronkowski, RB Ronald Jones, S Jordan Whitehead, TE O.J. Howard, OL Alex Cappa, OL Ali Marpet, DL Ndamukong Suh, DL Steve McLendon, LB Jason Pierre-Paul, LB Kevin Minter, CB Pierre Desir, S Andrew Adams, CB Richard Sherman.
- Award candidates: Tom Brady, +3300 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Shaquil Barrett, +5000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Rachaad White, +5000 in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds; Logan Hall, +6000 in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds;Devin White, +6000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Lavonte David, +8000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Mike Evans, +8000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Leonard Fournette, +8000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Chris Godwin, +8000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Cade Otton, +10000 in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year odds.
It will be interesting to see how the offense looks now that Bruce Arians stepped aside and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has taken over. Brady will be back and he’ll have some new targets with which to work. Receivers Julio Jones and Russell Gage as well as tight end Kyle Rudolph signed with Tampa Bay while tight end Cade Otton was added through the draft after Gronkowski retired and O.J. Howard moved on to Buffalo. Cameron Brate is the top returning tight end so keep on eye to see if his production goes up without Gronkowski and Howard around.
It is uncertain when receiver Chris Godwin will be at 100 percent. When that happens, this offense could be downright frightening. Mike Evans will be ready for a ninth straight year with 1,000 receiving yards.
The offense suffered its first loss of the season when center Ryan Jensen went down with what looked like a long-term injury. Already having to replace guards Marpet and Alex Cappa, the absence of Jensen could be a big deal. The Buccaneers traded for Shaq Mason, a former key blocker for Brady when both were in New England. Rookie Luke Goedeke could work in at a guard spot. Tristan Wirfs continues to improve and is considered to be one of the best young tackles in the game. He should continue to man the right side with Donovan Smith playing the left tackle position.
The Buccaneers continue to add young running backs. This time it is Rachaad White, and two years ago it was Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
The NFL picks have just six running backs with better odds to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award than White.
There were some concerns about the shape of leading rusher Leonard Fournette when he reported to camp, so the running back situation is worth monitoring now that Ronald Jones headed to Kansas City.
The biggest news — in more ways than one — was the signing of defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. If he is healthy, he will team with Vita Vea to give Tampa Bay two powerhouses in the middle of the defense. The Buccaneers used their first pick on Logan Hall. Last year, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was brought in as Tampa Bay began to get younger in the pass-rush department.
Lavonte David and rising star Devin White were the top two tacklers a season ago, followed by safety Antoine Winfield. David and Winfield combined to miss nine games last season.
“We’re back and we’re ready.”
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) July 30, 2022
Cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting also return. Keeping all the cornerbacks healthy has been an issue.
Shaquil Barrett has been one of Tampa Bay’s best moves on the defensive side of the ball with 37½ sacks in three seasons. The front seven will look a little different without Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh.
Hard-hitting safety Jordan Whitehead is now with the New York Jets. The Buccaneers added Logan Ryan, another former New England Patriot, and Keanu Neal. They combined for 189 tackles a season ago.
2022 Tampa Bay Outlook
Tampa Bay is coming into the season as one of the top title contenders in the NFC. There are some injury concerns, especially on offense.
The Buccaneers won the NFC South Division title despite being swept by rival New Orleans. That is something that will need to change because dropping two games to the Saints in 2022 could cost Tampa Bay the division title.
The Buccaneers continue to be a destination spot for veterans with Julio Jones, Kyle Rudolph and Akiem Hicks all coming to Tampa Bay with the hopes of winning a ring. Tampa Bay was second in the NFL in points scored in 2021 and the offense could be one of the best in the NFL yet again.
Tampa Bay is not exactly easing its way into the season with the first four games coming against Dallas, New Orleans, Green Bay and Kansas City. The Chiefs, Cowboys and Packers have three of the top five odds to win the Super Bowl according to the sportsbook.
Ryan Succop was 18 of 19 on field goals 39 yards or shorter. He was 7 of 11 on kicks of at least 40 yards. The Buccaneers used a fourth-round pick on punter Jake Camarda after finishing last in the NFL with an average of 42 yards per punt a season ago.
Three of Tampa Bay’s last four games during the 2021 season finished over the total. Something for those who bet online will need to consider, Tampa Bay covered in seven of its last 10 games in 2021. Tampa Bay was favored in every game during the 2021 season.
The regular season expected win total for the Buccaneers is set at 11½. The odds are at -115 for Tampa Bay to either go over or under that total.