As an avid Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan, I have been closely tracking their recent free agent signings. While some big names have dominated the headlines, I believe one of the most underrated signings is Ryan Neal. The former Seattle Seahawks safety has proven himself to be a valuable asset on the field with impressive playmaking abilities and a knack for forcing turnovers. With the Buccaneers’ dominant defense, Neal has the potential to make a significant impact and help bring the team back to the Super Bowl.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers most underrated free agent signing: Ryan Neal
When it comes to free agency signings, the big names always get the most attention. But for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of their most underrated signings this year has been Ryan Neal.
Neal joined the Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois in 2018. He spent that season on the practice squad before being released during final cuts in 2019. However, he was quickly picked up by the Seattle Seahawks, where he made a name for himself as a versatile and reliable defensive back.
After two seasons in Seattle, Neal returned to Tampa Bay, where he has continued to impress in the lead-up to the 2021 season.
Why Ryan Neal is underrated
So, why is Ryan Neal so underrated, even among Buccaneers fans?
For starters, his stats from last season might not jump off the page. In 2020, Neal only played in five games and recorded five tackles and one interception. Those are hardly eye-popping numbers, but they don’t tell the whole story.
One of Neal’s biggest strengths is his versatility. He can play both cornerback and safety, which gives the Buccaneers a lot of flexibility in their defensive schemes. Neal is also a solid special teams player, which is invaluable for a team that is looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Beyond that, Neal has shown a real knack for making plays when it counts. In his first game back with the Buccaneers last season, he intercepted a pass from Drew Brees, which helped set up a touchdown that put the game out of reach. In the only playoff game he appeared in, he made a key stop on fourth down that helped seal a victory over the New Orleans Saints.
In short, while his numbers might not be eye-popping, Ryan Neal has proven time and again that he can be counted on when the team needs him most.
What Ryan Neal brings to the Buccaneers
So, how does Ryan Neal fit into the Buccaneers’ plans for the 2021 season?
First and foremost, he will likely continue to be a versatile piece in the secondary. With the departure of players like Andrew Adams and Ryan Smith in free agency, Neal’s ability to play both cornerback and safety will be even more valuable.
Beyond that, the Buccaneers will surely look to Neal to make an impact on special teams. He has shown a real ability to make tackles and create turnovers, which is exactly what you want in a player on your special teams unit.
But perhaps most importantly, Ryan Neal brings a winning attitude to the Buccaneers. He was a member of the Seahawks team that made it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2019, and he was part of the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl-winning team last season. His experience and leadership could prove to be invaluable to a Buccaneers team that has high expectations for the upcoming season.
The potential impact of Ryan Neal
While it’s tough to predict exactly how much of an impact Ryan Neal will have on the 2021 Buccaneers, it’s clear that he has the potential to be a real difference-maker.
His versatility and reliability on defense will give the Buccaneers a lot of flexibility, particularly if injuries or other issues crop up over the course of the season. And his ability to create turnovers and make plays on special teams could prove to be crucial in tight games.
Beyond that, Ryan Neal’s presence in the locker room could have a real impact on the team’s culture. As a player who has been part of two winning teams in his short career, he knows what it takes to be successful at the NFL level. If he can help instill that mentality in some of the younger players on the team, it could pay dividends down the road.
When it comes to free agency signings, it’s always easy to focus on the big names. But for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan Neal might be one of the most underrated signings of the year.
With his versatility, reliability, and ability to make plays when it counts, Neal could prove to be a real difference-maker for the Buccaneers in 2021. And his experience and leadership could help push the team over the top as they look to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
So while he might not be a household name, don’t sleep on Ryan Neal. He could be one of the keys to the Buccaneers’ success this season.