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S.W. Florida Daily News


Who are the Tampa Bay Bucs counting on in 2023?


As a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I am eagerly anticipating the 2023 season and wondering who the team will be counting on to lead them to victory. With quarterback Tom Brady likely retired by then, the question remains – who will be the next face of the franchise? Will it be one of the current rookies, such as receiver Jaylen Darden or linebacker Grant Stuard, or will the team have made a big trade or free agency signing to bring in a new star? Only time will tell, but as a Buccaneers fan, I am excited to see what the future holds.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming off a Super Bowl win in 2021, but it’s never too early to start looking ahead. Who will the team be relying on as they aim for another championship in 2023?

Quarterback: Tom Brady

It’s impossible to talk about the Bucs’ future without mentioning their quarterback. Tom Brady is likely to retire at some point, but it’s unclear when that will be. Assuming he’s still playing in 2023, he’ll be 46 years old and presumably in the final year(s) of his career. His ability to stay healthy and productive will obviously be crucial to the team’s success.

Even if Brady were to retire before 2023, the Bucs would be in good hands with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert. The former first-round pick has played sparingly in his career but has shown flashes of talent when given the opportunity.

Running back: Ronald Jones II

Ronald Jones II emerged as the Bucs’ leading rusher in 2020, surpassing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He’ll be just 25 years old in 2023 and should be entering the prime of his career. Jones has shown the ability to be a workhorse back and is also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield.

Jones will likely be backed up by rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who was drafted in the third round in 2020. Vaughn didn’t have a significant role as a rookie but showed flashes of potential in limited action.

Wide receivers: Chris Godwin and Mike Evans

The Bucs are fortunate to have one of the best wide receiver duos in the league in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Both players are under contract through 2023 and should still be in their primes at that point.

Godwin emerged as a star in 2019, recording over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. He battled injuries in 2020 but should be fully healthy and ready to contribute in 2023. Evans has been one of the most consistent receivers in the league since he was drafted in 2014, amassing over 8,000 yards and 60 touchdowns in his career.

The Bucs also have a promising young receiver in Tyler Johnson, who showed flashes of potential as a rookie in 2020. His role should continue to expand in the coming years.

Tight end: O.J. Howard

Tight end O.J. Howard has had an up-and-down career since being drafted in the first round in 2017. He showed promise as a rookie but has battled injuries and inconsistency in the years since.

Assuming he’s able to stay healthy, Howard has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the league. He’s a rare athlete at his position, with the size and speed to create mismatches against defenders. Howard is also a capable blocker, which will be important in the Bucs’ run-heavy offense.

Offensive line: Tristan Wirfs

The Bucs’ offensive line was a major strength in 2020, allowing just 22 sacks all season. The anchor of that line was rookie right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who was selected in the first round of the 2020 draft.

Wirfs was one of the best right tackles in the league as a rookie, playing a key role in protecting Tom Brady and opening up holes for the running game. He’ll be just 23 years old in 2023 and should be entering his prime years as a dominant offensive lineman.

Defensive line: Vita Vea

The Bucs’ defensive line was a force in 2020, with players like Ndamukong Suh and Shaquil Barrett wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Perhaps the most important player on that line, however, was defensive tackle Vita Vea.

Vea missed much of the 2020 season with a broken leg, but he returned in time for the playoffs and played a key role in the team’s Super Bowl run. Vea is one of the most dominant run-stuffers in the league, occupying multiple blockers on nearly every snap. He also has the ability to collapse the pocket as a pass-rusher, making him a complete player on the interior of the defensive line.

Linebackers: Devin White and Lavonte David

The Bucs’ linebacker duo of Devin White and Lavonte David is one of the best in the NFL. White was a first-round pick in 2019 and quickly became a star, recording over 100 tackles and nine sacks in just 13 games as a rookie. He took his game to another level in the playoffs, recording three interceptions and two sacks in four games.

David has been one of the most underrated linebackers in the league for years, consistently racking up tackles and making plays all over the field. He’ll be 33 years old in 2023, but he’s shown no signs of slowing down.

Secondary: Carlton Davis III

The Bucs’ secondary was a weakness in 2020, but there’s reason for optimism going forward. One player who emerged as a bright spot last season was cornerback Carlton Davis III.

Davis had a breakout season in 2020, recording four interceptions and 18 passes defended. He proved to be a shutdown corner, capable of covering the league’s best receivers on a consistent basis. If he continues to improve in the coming years, Davis could emerge as one of the best corners in the league.


The Bucs have a talented roster with a mix of established stars and promising young players. Assuming Tom Brady is still playing in 2023, the team should be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Even if he retires before then, the Bucs have the pieces in place to compete for championships in the years to come.


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