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Jamel Dean Wants To Be A Veteran Leader For Bucs

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By: Bailey Adams

The last four years have seen Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean steadily rise from an up-and-down rookie to a proven No. 2 cornerback — and borderline No. 1. His consistency between 2019 and 2022 has been remarkable, with Pro Football Focus grades of 76.4, 76.4, 71.8 and 77.9, respectively. And his outstanding 2022 season came in a contract year, setting him up to cash in during free agency.

It felt like the 2019 third-round pick might have priced himself out of Tampa Bay, especially given the cap constraints the team found itself up against. But as it turned out, Dean cashed in to the tune of a four-year, $52 million deal — from the Bucs. And while the prospect of continuing his partnership with Carlton Davis III excites him and he’s happy to still be playing under head coach Todd Bowles, Dean is ready to be a veteran presence for the Bucs in 2023 and beyond.

“For me, I just feel like I want to take that next step in being a vet and developing the younger guys because I’ve seen how much I’ve grown. I see potential in the younger guys,” Dean said Thursday. “They just need a true vet. I feel like that’s what I didn’t have in my first couple years. I didn’t have a vet until my third year when we brought in Richard Sherman. I see that really helped elevate my game, so I want to do the same thing that Richard Sherman did for me.”

After Coming Up In A Young Secondary, Jamel Dean Is Ready To Lead

Bucs DBs Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Mike Edwards – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

When he was drafted in 2019, Dean was surrounded by other young cornerbacks. Davis himself had only been drafted a year earlier, as was M.J. Stewart. Sean Murphy-Bunting was a fellow 2019 draft pick. Vernon Hargreaves III was the only corner with significant NFL experience at the time, and he was having his own share of struggles — which ultimately led to his midseason release.

Even in 2020, Dean was part of a young secondary, albeit one that helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV. He, Davis, Murphy-Bunting and Mike Edwards (another 2019 draftee) were essentially the “veterans” of the defensive backfield with the addition of rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr.

Then, as he mentioned in his press conference on Thursday, Dean had a true veteran presence to learn from during the 2019 season — his third year in the league. With injuries piling up in the secondary, the Bucs brought Richard Sherman into the mix. Sherman quickly had injury issues of his own, but he served the team well in a coaching role. Dean, as well as other Tampa Bay defensive backs, have spoken frequently about the impact the former Seahawks All-Pro made during his time with the team.

Bucs CBs Richard Sherman and Jamel Dean

Bucs CBs Richard Sherman and Jamel Dean – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It clearly impacted Dean to the extent that he’s ready to play that role for the Bucs’ secondary over the next four years. That can start right away, as he can take 2022 fifth-round pick Zyon McCollum under his wing and help him along as he looks to maximize his speed and athleticism at the NFL level. Not to mention, the Bucs are likely to replace Murphy-Bunting this offseason and may look to take advantage of a deep cornerback class in the 2023 Draft. That would give Dean another young cornerback to work with and impart his wisdom on.

Dean will turn 27 during the 2023 season, as will Davis. Both of the Bucs’ top cornerbacks can lead the way on and off the field for what is sure to be a secondary with some new faces in the mix. Dean in particular has seen it all at the professional level. From his rough debut in a spot start at Seattle as a rookie to playing on a championship defense, he’s been through a lot in four years as a pro. For that reason, there’s no doubt he can be the veteran leader he wants to be.

Jamel Dean Was In No Hurry To Leave Bucs, Todd Bowles

Bucs CB Jamel Dean

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

When the Bucs’ 2022 season ended with a thud against the Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card Round, it felt like Jamel Dean had played his last game with the team. Murphy-Bunting played over him in the game and while he was dealing with a foot injury and an illness of some kind, Dean sounded like it was more of a coaching decision.

“I was just controlling what I can control. Like you said, it’s above me,” Dean told reporters after the game. “I was still just being a team player.”

In terms of play, Dean has cemented himself as the team’s CB2 over the years. But he was still taking second-team reps during last year’s training camp and seemingly had to beat out Murphy-Bunting for a starting job. He did, but between that and the way the season ended, it felt like the former Auburn Tiger was set to go elsewhere — earning a big pay day and having the chance to be further cement his status as a top corner in the league.

Instead, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Dean loves the city and state he’s played in for the first four years of his career. He loves the Bucs and wants to be a leader for them.

“I honestly didn’t want to leave, man. I’m born and raised in Florida, I’m close to home, I’m comfortable,” Dean said. “So, I was like, ‘Why would I leave?’”

Bucs DC Todd Bowles and CB Jamel Dean

Bucs DC Todd Bowles and CB Jamel Dean – Photo by: USA Today

Plus, Dean cherishes his relationship with Bowles, who he said he turned to in 2019 when things weren’t going well for him on the field. He asked the defensive mastermind to teach him the game of football, and he’s developed under him ever since. Dean was asked Thursday about whether staying with his head coach of one year and defensive play-caller of four years was a major decider in his choice to re-sign with Tampa Bay.

“It was really big because me and him, we put in a lot of work together. So, it’s like, why would I let another coach reap the benefits of what me and Bowles did?” Dean said. “So, that was really big because I only want to be coached by Bowles. He’s the one who taught me everything I know.”

So, with a new contract, a renewed sense of responsibility as a leader and the same, trusted coach working alongside him, Jamel Dean is ready to go to new heights for the Bucs.

The post Jamel Dean Wants To Be A Veteran Leader For Bucs appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report