When you look at the makeup of rosters throughout the NFL, there are certain position groups that are more experienced than others. Experience is often times the key to winning games, especially the ones that come down to the last drive.
When you look at Tampa Bay’s roster, I think it’s pretty clear that the most experienced group is the defensive line. Before all the additions this offseason, the team already had Gerald McCoy, who is heading into his ninth season and just turned 30 years old this past February. They also have William Gholston who is only 26 years old, but is heading into his sixth season in Tampa Bay. Before the free agent additions, the only real player with minimal experience was Noah Spence who is only 24 years old. Spence has missed the majority of his first two seasons with shoulder injuries.
What makes this position group so experienced is the additions. Jason Pierre-Paul is 29 years old and is heading into his ninth season just like McCoy, and has played in 111 games in his career. On the opposite side you have Vinny Curry, who is also 29 years old, but is only heading into his seventh season. Between McCoy, Pierre-Paul and Curry, those guys have played a combined 304 games in this league.
The two other additions in Beau Allen and Mitch Unrein also have some valuable experience in this league. Unrein, who just turned 31, will be entering his eighth season. Allen is the youngest free agent addition of the offseason. He is just 26 years old and will be entering his fifth NFL season.
The youngest man along the new look Bucs defensive line is Vita Vea, the 350-pound mammoth of a man. He is only 23 years old and will be entering his first season with the team after being drafted with the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft.
However, it isn’t just age and games played that makes this group the most experienced. It’s Super Bowl appearances. Obviously, Tampa Bay hasn’t made a Super Bowl since 2002, so you can eliminate McCoy, Gholston and Spence from that list. Outside of Vea, all the other additions this offseason have played for the Lombardi Trophy with a previous team. Vinny Curry and Beau Allen played last year for the Eagles, Pierre Paul played for the Giants in 2011 and Mitch Unrein played for the Broncos in 2013. These guys know what it takes to get to the Super Bowl and I think experience will help guys like McCoy and Gholston who have yet to reach the playoffs during their tenure in Tampa.
It’ll be fun to watch how all the pieces come together by the start of the regular season.