Seems like just yesterday the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were opening up training camp with the rest of the NFL. But now, we’re here for the day the season will come to an unofficial end, and every team will look forward to 2020.
Neither of last year’s Lombardi competitors are in this year’s game. In fact, the Los Angeles Rams failed to even reach the post-season. And both the Chiefs and 49ers have players who could become a part of why the Bucs reach the post-season in 2020, even if the team they’re playing for now, don’t.
So let’s focus on one guy from each side of this Super Bowl match-up, in search of a future member of the Buccaneers roster.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS FREE-SAFETY, JIMMIE WARD
In his sixth season, Jimmie Ward and the San Francisco 49ers defense has been the biggest part of getting their team to Super Bowl 54 in Miami, Florida.
With his seventh season coming up, he may be moving to the east coast for good if he decides to go play for the franchise where his current general manager became a Hall of Fame worthy NFL safety himself.
Whether or not Ward wins a Super Bowl with John Lynch this season, the two are going to have to engage in some contract negotiations which may not end up in San Francisco keeping this key defensive back who played in thirteen regular season games in 2019.
One of the hang-ups if the two sides don’t agree on a contract, will surely be Ward’s injury history. Ironic, considering his injury history - and ability to rebound from it - is one of the reasons he’s such a key part of the current roster.
But once the business side gets going, facts like Ward having played in sixteen games just once in his career, are going to be big negotiating points. Of course these things can be resolved in bonuses, but they can also be resolved by seeking out a new employer, so the chances Ward at least entertains outside offers is solid.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need a starting free-safety. They have Mike Edwards under contract for 2020, and Andrew Adams did well in his role during the 2019 season. But neither cemented themselves as a starting free-safety for the future.
Bringing in a veteran like Ward won’t break the bank, but they may have to pay a little more than market value depending on suitors. But if they do ink him. He can be an influential veteran with a message of perseverance and succeeding through struggle. Someone who can really tie the defense together, and accelerate the learning of younger defensive backs around him.
But, what about that injury history? Well, it’s a concern, sure. But when you have capable young players like Edwards and possible Adams still available to contribute, then you can feel a little better about bringing the mentality in, even if he doesn’t finish the season on the field.
Because if Edwards was needed to step in for Ward due to injury, the Edwards we get would be better because of his work with Ward as a teammate, rather than without.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS CORNERBACK BASHAUD BREELAND
Remember that guy who moved to a new team following the 2018 NFL season only to depart the team following some drama and a foot injury? When speaking in generalities, Bashaud Breeland’s story might sound a little familiar, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as some people’s 2019 off-season and pre-season.
Following the 2018 season, Breeland landed with the Carolina Panthers on a three-year deal set to begin in 2019. Had he been held to that contract, he’d be on vacation right now, waiting to find out what it’s like to play for another new coach with the Carolina Panthers.
But he cut his foot on vacation before ever suiting up for the Panthers. And because of the cut, he had his contract - well - cut. And he became a free-agent again. Now, that’s where his drama ends, but not the similarities between Breeland and Antonio Brown.
Because while Brown’s foot drama spiraled and led to his ultimately landing with a Super Bowl contender, Breeland’s drama was isolated to the foot incident and also ended with his landing with a contender.
Brown, like his Super Bowl suitors, are on the outside looking in this weekend. Breeland however, is in the game with his Kansas City Chiefs looking to turn a lot of misfortune and weird occurrences into a Lombardi Trophy. Not a bad ending to the story.
But Breeland’s NFL story won’t be over after this game, trophy or no-trophy. However, his contract will be. And the cash-strapped Chiefs have some big decisions to make. Decisions which may lead to Breeland not being a part of the spending plan for 2020.
If not, then he’ll hit the open market in search for a team who needs some veteran leadership and a good cornerback or two.
Now, Tampa Bay’s young corners did well. But the depth is dangerously shallow at the cornerback position. Having invested a ridiculous amount of draft capital in the position already, it makes little sense to make the secondary younger.
So, a veteran could be in the cards for Jason Licht and the Buccaneers, and Breeland could be looking for a place to call home in 2020. Sounds like a one-year contract situation if I ever heard one, and if Breeland is given the chance to compete with Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean, the Bucs will have a sold starting corps and depth to back them up when needed.
Enjoy the game everyone! After today, everyone is full speed towards 2020, and we’ll be here to help get you there. Thanks for reading.