Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2023 Season Preview & Record Prediction
2022 Record: 8-9 (NFC South Champions)
The conclusion of the 2022 season marked the end of an illustrious era with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led by the legendary Tom Brady. During his tenure with the Bucs, the team achieved remarkable success, securing two division titles and the crowning jewel of a Super Bowl victory in 2020. However, Brady’s final season saw the Buccaneers struggling to find their rhythm from the outset, encountering challenges that hindered their performance on the field. Despite finishing with a record of 8-9, they managed to clinch the NFC South title for the second consecutive year, but it was evident that the magic of previous seasons had eluded them.
Notably, the losing record marked a first in Brady’s illustrious career and the first instance where he guided a team to the postseason with less than ten wins. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay’s playoff journey was cut short, succumbing to a 31-14 defeat against the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round. Shortly after this setback, Brady announced his retirement from football for the second time, officially closing his era with the Buccaneers.
However, his retirement also leaves Tampa Bay on the hook for a substantial $35.1 million in dead money owed to the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Alongside Brady’s departure, the team bid farewell to several veteran talents, such as Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, Donovan Smith, and Ryan Succop, parting ways because of salary cap-cutting measures. Despite these departures, the Buccaneers aim to position themselves for a clearer future as they embark on a new chapter without their iconic quarterback.
Previewing the Buccaneers’ Offense
Despite the notable departures of Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, and Julio Jones, the core players of the Buccaneers, including the dynamic duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, remain firmly intact. Both Evans and Godwin showcased their prowess in the 2022 season, each amassing impressive 1,000-yard campaigns. However, the quarterback position is set to see a new face, with the starting role up for grabs between Baker Mayfield and 2021 second-round pick Kyle Trask. All indications point to Mayfield as the leading contender heading into the 2023 campaign, but a clearer picture will emerge once the team hits the field for training camp.
Taking over the lead back duties is Rachaad White, who proved himself last season as the Buccaneers’ second-leading rusher, racking up over 481 yards and one touchdown. His versatility will be complemented by fellow teammate Ke’Shawn Vaughn and the newly acquired free agent Chase Edmonds, forming a potent trio expected to play a significant role in the Bucs’ offensive strategy, particularly if the quarterback position faces any challenges. With a blend of experienced playmakers and emerging talents, the Buccaneers’ offense seeks to continue its high-powered production in the post-Tom Brady era.
Keep an eye on Bucs’ second-year tight end Cade Otton, especially if you’re a fantasy football enthusiast. Otton has demonstrated his potential as a dependable passing option in the Buccaneers’ aerial attack, building on an impressive rookie season. Hailing from the University of Washington, the young tight end showcased his skills by hauling in 42 receptions for 391 yards and two touchdowns, indicating his ability to make significant contributions to the team’s passing game. As he continues to develop, Otton’s emergence as a key playmaker could add a valuable dimension to the Buccaneers’ offensive arsenal in the upcoming season.
Previewing the Buccaneers’ Defense
Amidst the uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position, the Buccaneers’ defense could emerge as the team’s most critical asset for success. Despite enduring a season with nine losses, Tampa Bay showcased a formidable defense, finishing ninth overall in total defense and playing a pivotal role in the team’s playoff contention during 2022. One key decision was to retain longtime veteran linebacker Lavonte David, who was on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent.
The team successfully re-signed the 33-year-old linebacker to a one-year deal worth $7 million, fully guaranteed. David’s exceptional performance in the previous season, recording 124 total tackles and three sacks, solidified his significance to the defensive unit. Joining him are fellow standout players such as Devin White, Antoine Winfield Jr., Vita Vea, and Carlton Davis, all returning to fortify the Buccaneers’ defensive lineup. The team released veteran defensive end William Gholston, but he was brought back on a one-year deal before the start of training camp.
The defensive line will also witness an infusion of young talent with the addition of defensive tackle Calijah Kancey from Pittsburgh, selected in the first round of the 2023 draft. Kancey’s skill set is a perfect fit for the Buccaneers’ 3-4 scheme, excelling as a natural defensive tackle but also capable of making an impact as an edge rusher. During his time with the Panthers, Kancey demonstrated his prowess, amassing an impressive total of 14.5 sacks over the past two seasons. As Tampa Bay looks to build on its defensive prowess, Kancey’s addition adds depth and potential to an already formidable defense.
Eagles (September 25)
Saints (October 1, December 31)
Lions (October 15)
Falcons ( October 22, December 10)
Bills (October 26)
Titans (November 12)
49ers (November 19)
Panthers (December 3, January 7)
Let’s face the reality for a moment—the other teams in the NFC South have made significant strides during the offseason, potentially surpassing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on paper. While on-field performance remains to be seen, their first-place schedule as division winners from last season presents additional challenges. Considering the uncertainties at the quarterback position, it becomes difficult to project more wins for the team. Baker Mayfield must tap into his 2020 efficiency when he led the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs, throwing for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns, only eight interceptions, and an impressive QBR of 95.9.
He will also need the support of a strong ground game, similar to the success of Nick Chubb in 2020, who ran for over 1,000 yards and recorded 12 touchdowns. The potential replication of such production by emerging running back Rachaad White, a fantasy sleeper, adds to the unknowns. Based on the current outlook, it is unlikely that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will return to the playoffs. As the season unfolds, they’ll have to address these challenges and rise to the occasion to secure their postseason aspirations.