Of all the questions surrounding Tampa Bay’s defensive turnover this offseason, the safety position is far from the most pressing.
The team has an ascending young tandem in Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Mike Edwards, and they have a decent shot to bring back Jordan Whitehead as well. While the need for a box enforcer will definitely be present if Whitehead departs, the focus should be more on shoring up overall depth.
If the Buccaneers want a veteran backup with plenty of experience in multiple schemes, Tavon Wilson fits the bill.
Tavon Wilson’s Career Thus Far
Wilson opened up his career as a surprise to many pundits. Largely predicted as a late-round flier after not even receiving a Scouting Combine invite, Wilson fielded an unexpected call from the New England Patriots on Day 2 of the 2012 NFL Draft. At 48th overall in the second round, Bill Belichick threw everyone for a loop.
Wilson played well in a reserve/rotational role in New England, but he couldn’t crack the starting lineup consistently and left after his rookie deal. He joined a familiar face in Detroit with Matt Patricia, where he gained a more consistent starting role.
Four generally good years in the Motor City gave way to 1-year stints in Indianapolis and San Francisco, respectively. He’s totaled 393 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 1 touchdown in 10 seasons.
Why It Works
If the Buccaneers want an experienced veteran behind their young tandem, Wilson certainly seems to check the box. He has experience at both free and strong safety over a decade while in several schemes, and he’s gathered a plethora of special teams time as well.
Seeing how the Bucs intend to move on from Andrew Adams as a primary backup safety/special teams gunner, they might want a higher quality option.
Wilson seems to be declining, is turning 32 next week, and is coming off a season-ending injury. Ultimately, players like that don’t tend to cultivate much interest early in the free agent signing period. The Bucs will likely be focused on many other loose ends before shifting their primary attention to someone like Wilson.
What’s The Cost?
The vet minimum will be in play here. Wilson made $1.125 million in 2021, and there’s no reason to expect that he has a claim to much more than that.
What We Don’t Know
There are a few factors at play here.
Do the Buccaneers have faith in players who they’ve held on the practice squad like Chris Cooper or Troy Wagner to assume a more prominent role?
Conversely, say Whitehead signs elsewhere. The Bucs might instead opt to sign another veteran more primed for starting opportunities, like Kareem Jackson or Keanu Neal, and then draft a prospect to serve as primary depth.
Or, Tampa might just want more youth in general and pass on veterans in favor of less-seasoned choices. Beyond the draft, younger free agents than Wilson — though not significantly — include Damontae Kazee (28), Jayron Kearse (28) or Dean Marlowe (29).
Make the Decision
Veteran depth is never sexy, but it’s always vital for sustained success over the course of an entire season.
Wilson may provide that presence, but he’s far from a unique flavor on the market and as such he will not be in hot demand. The Bucs can take their time and evaluate the best options for their roster.
What say you, Bucs Nation?
When it comes to Tavon Wilson, what would you have the Buccaneers do?
This poll is closed
Sign him no matter what
Make an offer, but keep it reasonable
Invite him for a cup of coffee and see where it goes
Call him up if they have a need after the NFL Draft
Don’t need him