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Free-Agent Spotlight: Cornerback, Bradley Roby

Why the former first-round pick could (and might not) be a fit for Tampa Bay this off-season

NFL: Houston Texans at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 16 of the 2019 NFL Season, fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers watched in terror as Houston Texans cornerback Bradley Roby intercepted Jameis Winston’s first pass of the game, and returned it for the game’s first touchdown of the game. It was Roby’s third pick-six in his sixth year as an NFL cornerback.

The Bucs would go on to lose to the Texans. But this isn’t why we’re here today. We’re here because there’s a chance when Roby gets his fourth interception return for a score, it’ll put points up for Tampa Bay, instead of against.


2014 NFL Draft Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Coming from the Ohio State Buckeyes’ football program in 2014, Roby was the 31st pick in the same draft Tampa Bay selected wide receiver Mike Evans with the seventh pick.

After six seasons, Evans is still with the team that drafted him, while Roby is looking for what may become his third team in his career.

Roby lasted five years in Denver, totaling seven interceptions including two returned for touchdowns. He added another touchdown via scoop and score on a Jamaal Charles fumble which gave the Broncos a walk-off win against the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs.

The score came in the same season Roby became a Super Bowl Champion alongside 2019 Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett and safety Darian Stewart. Of course, many remember the run as Peyton Manning’s last ride, but it was the defense who carried the Broncos to the Lombardi.

Early on, Roby thrived in a nickel role with the Broncos, but after trading Aqib Talib to the Los Angeles Rams he was thrust into a more substantial role. His performance as a starting cornerback in the Broncos defense wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t the worst either. At the end of the 2018 season though, Denver and Roby parted ways, leading to the defender signing a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal with the Houston Texans.

Ten games later, Roby gave Houston 38 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and the one score against Winston and the Bucs. Now, it seems Roby will be on the market once again, looking for more security and another opportunity.’s Lance Zierlein reported in late January Roby wouldn’t likely be back with the Texans. So, if he’s not going to be in Texas, why not move to Florida? Let’s take a look at it.


Roby lives to make plays, and is about as aggressive a cornerback as there is. Both of those fit what Todd Bowles likes to see in his defensive backs.

Add to it his playoff and Super Bowl experience, and you’ve got a guy who knows how to contribute to a winning culture while still being young enough to develop further into his role in a new one.

However, as young as he is - turning 28 in March - he’d also be the elder cornerback in the current group in Tampa Bay. The average age for a Buccaneers cornerback in 2019 was just 23.6 years old by the end of the year. So adding a guy with some age to him, and experience, could be beneficial all around.


One of the reasons reported for why the Broncos decided to move on from Roby was his tendency to get beat. This is nothing new for him though. Coming out of Ohio State, one of the knocks on Roby was his ability to get beat on double moves and get caught staring into the backfield too much.

In man coverage, peeking at the quarterback at the wrong time can get you burned, bad. Biting on double moves with minimal top coverage can get you burned, worse. Roby’s desire to make plays leaves him open to getting manipulated at times.


As it stands in mid-February, the Buccaneers are dedicating just *5.36% of their projected 2020 salary cap to the secondary. So, there’s room to spend more for one who has championship experience and potential to impact the defense.

Still, Roby is unlikely to see the $10M figure he got for his one year with the Texans. Prior to signing with Houston last off-season, he turned down a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers and also reported receiving interest from the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns.

It’s possible all three of those teams re-approach Roby again this year, and even more may enter the conversation. No matter what, it’s likely the cornerback signs for somewhere between $6-8M annually, unless he finds another team to give him an inflated one-year deal.


It’s been pretty clear throughout Roby’s NFL career he’s better in the slot than he is on the outside. In today’s league, playing the slot is basically a starting role. But still, the two outside guys are typically considered your starters, and a starter is what Roby has wanted to be his entire career.

The Buccaneers already went through a similar identity challenge with Vernon Hargreaves III who interestingly enough ended up being a teammate of Roby’s after Tampa Bay waived him during the 2019 season.

If Roby wants to be a starting (outside) cornerback, then it may not be time for the Bucs to speak with the talented defensive back. He doesn’t have the length the team seems to desire in an outside defender, while they may be fully interested in bringing him in to play in the slot.

Again, playing in the slot means less money in most circumstances. And the assumption stemming from Roby turning down Pittsburgh’s three-year offer is the money and role wasn’t likely what the player wanted.


Denver Bronocs vs Jacksonville Jaguars Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Given what we know about the Buccaneers’ current 2020 roster, who Roby has been up to this point in his career, the situation he’s coming out of with the Houston Texans, his potential price point, and everything we don’t know.

What do you want the Bucs to do in relation to cornerback, Bradley Roby?


When it comes to Bradley Roby, the Buccaneers need to...

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Sign him, no matter what.
    (5 votes)
  • 35%
    Make an offer, but keep it reasonable.
    (44 votes)
  • 23%
    Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes from there.
    (29 votes)
  • 13%
    Call him up if we have a need after the draft.
    (17 votes)
  • 22%
    Don’t need him.
    (28 votes)
123 votes total Vote Now

*According to