The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to attempt something that hasn't been done in the NFL since the 2003, 2004 seasons: Win back-to-back Super Bowls. The Bucs just put the finishing touches on the preseason over the weekend and will now march into the regular season to officially begin their title defense. Head coach Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht made tremendous headway this offseason by retaining every starter from that championship-winning squad of a year ago over the last few months and should put them on a solid path towards repeating.
Below, we'll go through each roster spot on the depth chart of the opening 53-man roster prior to the Bucs opening up the 2021 regular season at Raymond James Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
Ronald Jones II
As you can see, the starting unit for the Bucs offense is essentially the same one that won Super Bowl LV.
The only real difference is right guard Alex Cappa, who suffered a broken ankle against Washington on Super Wild Card Weekend and was out for the remainder of the postseason. Meanwhile, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, and Rob Gronkowski were among the key free agents that the Bucs were able to retain this offseason. Godwin was, of course, the highest priority of that bunch, and the club deployed the franchise tag on the star receiver to ensure he'll be on board for their title defense.
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As for some new additions, Giovani Bernard may be the most notable. The former Bengals back will likely serve as the main receiving target out the backfield for Tom Brady, which is a role that can see quite a bit of volume if his days in New England are any indication. Second-round quarterback Kyle Trask is also a new face that has garnered headlines, but his arrival won't mean much as it relates to the 2021 Buccaneers.
Another offensive piece worth highlighting is tight end O.J. Howard. Tampa Bay's former first-round pick suffered a torn Achilles last season and was placed on IR in early October. He should add another layer to what is already a deep tight end unit with Gronkowski and Cameron Brate.
|Antoine Winfield Jr.|
Similar to the offensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay's defense is largely the same unit that dominated in Super Bowl LV. The front office put an emphasis on keeping that front-seven intact, signing Shaq Barrett, Lavonte David, and Jason Pierre-Paul to extensions. The club also was able to re-sign defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a one-year deal. He is currently not listed on the opening roster as he's on the reserve/COVID list. Not only did they keep the core that helped win them a title, but the Bucs also injected youth into the pass-rushing unit by selecting Joe Tyron-Shoyinka with the No. 32 overall pick. The Washington product should be an immediate role-player with the Bucs and could potentially be the future at the position after Pierre-Paul departs at some point.
As for the secondary, the continued development for both Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean will be something to watch at the cornerback spot. At safety, Antoine Winfield Jr. will be looking to build off what was an extremely strong rookie campaign in 2020 where he started all 16 games.
|Jose Borregales*, Ryan Succop (COVID list)|
Antoine Winfield Jr.