2022 record: 8-9, first NFC South
Playoff picture: The Buccaneers had the NFL’s longest active playoff drought when they pulled the trigger for Tom Brady in 2020. One Super Bowl title and three straight playoff appearances later, they’ll try to keep a new streak going without him.
Biggest Week 1 question: Is this Baker Mayfield’s last shot at a productive NFL career? Mayfield began 2022 in Cleveland, was traded to Carolina in July and spent five bleak months there before being granted his release. The Los Angeles Rams claimed him off waivers, and he showed brief flashes of what he can do in a pass-first offense, which the Buccaneers undoubtedly had with Brady. Mayfield beat Kyle Trask for the starting gig in training camp.
What’s new: Former Bucs quarterback Byron Leftwich was fired as offensive coordinator and Seahawks quarterbacks coach Dave Canales was hired as his replacement. Hey, if he could turn Geno Smith into a Pro Bowler, Canales might have some tricks up his sleeve for Mayfield. The defensive line will now feature free agent signing Greg Gaines and first-round draft pick Calijah Kancey.
They’re gone: Besides Brady? The offense is also moving forward without running backs Leonard Fournette and Gio Bernard and tight end Cameron Brate. On the other side of the ball, no more CB Sean Murphy-Bunting or S Mike Edwards, and several rookies comprise the defensive backfield depth as a result.
On the money: A week before the season opener, a standoff between WR Mike Evans and the team was simmering. Evans wants more money, and set a deadline for the Bucs to make it happen. Besides addressing quarterback, the Buccaneers spent resources this offseason on taking care of their own. Linebackers Lavonte David and Anthony Nelson, cornerback Jamel Dean and nickel Dee Delaney were all re-signed.
Get to know: Rachaad White is far from a household name, but the 2022 third-round draft pick found success as a rookie, catching 50 of 58 targets while getting carries as a change-of-pace back. He will start the season as Tampa Bay’s No. 1 running back.
Vegas says: While plenty of power rankings are naming Tampa Bay as one of the league’s worst teams entering 2023, BetMGM’s win total is up at 6.5 — and 91 percent of the handle has been bet on the under (-145).
—Field Level Media
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