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Bucs Re-signed Their 2 Most Improved Players

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By: Scott Reynolds

Tampa Bay head coach Todd Bowles was asked a direct question on the final episode of the Bucs Total Access radio program by host Casey Phillips. Who were the team’s most improved players in 2022?

It was no surprise that Bowles, a defensive-minded head coach, rattled off the names of not just one, but two of his players on defense.

“Anthony Nelson and Jamel Dean,” Bowles said. “I think Nelson really came into his own when Shaq [Barrett] got hurt. He had some big sack-fumbles. I thought Dean in the first half to three quarters of the year was one of the best cover guys in the league.”

It was also no surprise that the Bucs made re-signing Dean and Nelson a priority in free agency. Both players signed multi-year contract extensions prior to hitting free agency.

Bucs CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Dean was the first Bucs player to re-sign this offseason, inking a four-year contract worth $52 million, including $24.5 million in guaranteed money. The deal averages $13 million per season, which is less than what Carlton Davis III received last year when he signed a three-year extension worth $44.5 million and averages $14.88 million per season.

Dean broke up eight passes in 15 games and matched his career high with two interceptions last year, both of which came in a Week 2 win at New Orleans. The Auburn product has seven career interceptions, including a pick-six in 2020 against Aaron Rodgers.

Nelson’s deal was two years at $10 million that can max out at $13 million. He was an instrumental part of the Bucs’ pass rush last year, especially when Shaq Barrett tore his Achilles in a Week 8 loss to Baltimore and was out for the season.

With Nelson back in the fold, Tampa Bay returns its top three edge rushers from a year ago. Nelson had a career-high 5.5 sacks, which was tied for second-most on the team, and his three forced fumbles led the Bucs.

Signings of Jamel Dean, Anthony Nelson Help When It Comes To The Bucs’ Draft

Bucs OLBs Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Bucs OLBs Anthony Nelson and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The fact that the Bucs have both of their starting cornerbacks in Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis III returning in 2023 makes cornerback a lesser need heading into the 2023 NFL Draft. Had Dean signed elsewhere in free agency, Tampa Bay might have been forced to use its first-round pick on a cornerback.

Now, the Bucs can draft another cornerback for depth in the middle rounds, especially with second-year corner Zyon McCollum also on the roster, and address more pressing needs elsewhere.

The Bucs will likely spend an early-round pick on an edge rusher in case Shaq Barrett, who turns 30 this year, does not fully recover from his torn Achilles tendon. And the team needs to have a young, developmental pass rusher in the fold in case former first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka does not ascend.

Tryon-Shoyinka has recorded back-to-back years with just four sacks and needs to have a breakout season in 2023. The team is hoping new outside linebackers coach George Edwards can help take JTS, Nelson and the rest of the players at the position to new heights.

The post Bucs Re-signed Their 2 Most Improved Players appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report