The interior offensive line desperately needs help
As training camp begins for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the internal situation on the offensive line continues to grow increasingly worrisome.
Down from the previous season’s two starting guards, a new injury has arisen on the inside, amplifying the need for help inside the line.
The interior offensive lineman’s string of woes began at the start of the 2022 offseason, when offensive guard Ali Marpet suddenly announced his retirement at age 28. Marpet, who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 21 years, spent seven seasons in Tampa Bay.
Marpet shed light on some of the reasoning behind his unexpected retirement.
“The main reason for me was the physical toll. I didn’t want that anymore. There were certain things I wanted to accomplish in my career that I had done.
After that, there was the loss of Alex Cappa, who had served as a starting guard for the Buccaneers since 2019. Cappa signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, agreeing to the terms of a deal. worth more than $35 million.
The final strike came Thursday, when Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen was ejected from the field with a knee injury.
#Bucs C Pro Bowl C Ryan Jensen, who was carried during practice, fears he suffered a serious knee injury, by me and @MikeGarafolo. Tom Brady’s executor is still working on testing and the hope is to find out for sure in the next few days.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) July 28, 2022
Within months, the Buccaneers find themselves on the top three starting interior offensive linemen from 2021. Things are looking up in Tampa, and the team will have to do something fast.
Luckily for the 2020 Super Bowl champions, while there’s no way to predict Ryan Jensen’s sudden injury, the team had already begun planning for their future at guard.
The Buccaneers acquired Shaq Mason in a trade earlier in the offseason
In March, when Pro Bowler Ali Marpet was the only player to be replaced, Tampa Bay traded for Shaq Mason.
To acquire the veteran guard, Tampa shipped a 2022 fifth-round pick to New England. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick described the move as one that was for “the best interest of the team“.
On the other side, Jason Licht, the Buccaneers general manager, asked quarterback Tom Brady about Mason. Licht said he received a strong recommendation.
Mason, a seven-year New England veteran, started 98 contests at guard. The 28-year-old has years of experience protecting Tom Brady.
Including the playoffs, Mason blocked for Tom Brady in 83 separate games. The Buccaneer’s new guard was a big part of the Patriots’ 16-18 consecutive Super Bowl runs, helping earn money in Super Bowl wins in 2016 and 2018.
Pro Football Focus has given Mason a rating north of 80 every season after his rookie year, aside from 2019. Even in his 2019 campaign, Mason scored an impressive 73.0.
While it originally seemed easy enough to insert Mason in Marpet’s place, things got much more complicated. Now with another guard and center, the Buccaneers are surely feeling the pressure to make another move.
Tampa Bay drafted OL Luke Goedeke 57th overall
With the possibility of Marpet’s counterpart Alex Cappa moving on, the Buccaneers decided to sign Luke Goedeke from Central Michigan.
In 2021, Goedeke earned First-Team All-Mid-American Conference honors, in addition to being recognized as a First-Team All-Conference by Pro Football Focus. The problem? This was done by playing right tackle, while the Bucs will need Goedeke to shine at guard.
The good news is that most outlets are predicting Goedeke will translate better inside, and Tampa Bay is consistent with that thinking. Since being drafted, it’s been clear that he’s expected to replace the Buccaneers guard.
In May, the Central Michigan alum taken from the media to discuss his transition to custody.
“At guard, it’s a little different from the tackle. Things happen so much faster. You have to get through stunts a lot faster, follow the Mike a lot more, be faster with footwork. You are playing in a smaller space.
While Goedeke acknowledges the difficult transition and understands it will be a process, the 23-year-old said he spent 30 to 45 minutes talking on the phone with Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet.
The transitioning offensive lineman to guard also expressed excitement about working alongside center Ryan Jensen. Yeah.
As the Buccaneers continue to search for answers inside the offensive line, Goedeke hopes he can present a strong case to earn a starting role. Aaron Stinnie is currently the lead runner in the race, with Goedeke not far behind.
In 2021, Stinnie recorded 91 offensive snaps, earning a PFF rating of 51.6.
As the 312-pound offensive lineman continues to feel comfortable moving to guard, Tampa Bay hopes Goedeke can help solve an otherwise frightening problem inside the line.