It was a rollercoaster year for a team that some felt would drop off dramatically without the quarterback that led them to a Super Bowl title in 2020. Tom Brady retired, Baker Mayfield stepped in and an up-and-down 2023 resulted in a 9-8 finish and a division title.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers dethroned the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles, 32-9, in the wild card round before losing at Detroit, 31-23, in the divisional playoffs. What is ahead for a club that was supposed to be in a transition phase?
What’s Next for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
Last offseason, the Buccaneers signed Mayfield to a one-year contract. He fended off Kyle Trask for the starting job and enjoyed a career year in leading the Bucs to a third consecutive division title.
The six-year pro is one of many potential performers who could become free agents on March 13. It’s a list that includes wide receiver Mike Evans, linebacker Lavonte David and All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr.
Evans led the team in receiving yards (1,255) and caught 13 of Mayfield’s 28 touchdown passes. David paced the team in tackles, while Winfield came up with 122 stops, six sacks, and team-highs in interceptions (3) and passes defensed (12). The talented defender also recorded club bests with six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Then again, the franchise is in great shape in terms of the salary cap (via Spotrac). It’s highly likely that unsung general manager Jason Licht won’t let his standout performers get away.
Biggest Offseason Concern?
Todd Bowles’ team is a nice mixture of veteran performers and promising young talent. Still, the Buccaneers’ offense was spotty at times this season, and the team could use for help from its ground attack. For the second consecutive year, Tampa Bay finished dead last in the league in rushing yards per game (88.8 average). A little more balance and the team could improve on its total of 36 offensive touchdowns.
The team has an emerging star in running back Rachaad White, who was tied for seventh in the league in total yards from scrimmage (1,539) and reached the end zone nine times. He led the Buccaneers in attempts (272), rushing yards (990) and TDs via the ground. It will be interesting to see if his workload, as well as Tampa’s entire running game, increases in 2024.