All 32 teams will not have a player(s) receive honors at the league’s annual award ceremony, this February. Even with that being the case, every franchise does have players on their roster who are the most likely to take home some hardware.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-1 at the bye week and quarterback Baker Mayfield may be on the verge of becoming the Cinderella story of the NFL.
With a four game sample size, the arch and trajectory of this team are beginning to come into focus. Let’s play another round of Tampa Bay Buccaneers superlatives—
Most likely to win MVP: N/A
Original nominee: N/A
Unfortunately, MVP is largely a popularity contest among the league’s top quarterbacks. The Buccaneers do have a quarterback who is playing fairly high-level football, but come February Baker Mayfield is unlikely to have the cachet needed to bring home a league MVP. Barring an otherworldly season by a skill position player like Tyreek Hill or Christian McCaffrey the NFL MVP will likely be awarded to a familiar passer from a highly publicized NFL franchise.
Most likely to win Rookie of the Year: Trey Palmer
Original nominee: Calijah Kancey
Calijah Kancey has done essentially nothing so far in his NFL career. Save for a few reps against the Minnesota Vikings (where he did dazzle a bit) the rookie first-round pick has been shelved so far this season.
In the NFL, injuries are a part of the game. Kancey is not expected to miss the entire year and the Buccaneers have only played four games thus far. 2023 is a young season. Tampa Bay has 13 games remaining and their rookie pass rusher still has plenty of time to put forth a respectable campaign for Rookie of Year, however if you’re not playing— you cannot remain a candidate.
Trey Palmer was a sixth-round pick for the Buccaneers and expected to be a depth player this season. Palmer didn’t take long to make a name for himself in the NFL. In Tampa’s first preseason game, the rookie receiver caught four passes for 33 yards along with a skillful touchdown. Week two, the Buccaneers took on the New York Jets. Trey Palmer did more of the same— Another 33 yards and another first-class touchdown grab. Palmer’s productive preseason ended with 91 yards and two scores.
The start of the regular season did not, at all, dwindle the former Cornhusker's momentum. In his first career regular season game, Palmer did exactly what he did in his first preseason game. Scoring a touchdown in his debut and a second, last week against the New Orleans Saints, Palmer has gotten his career off to a hot start. Through four games, he has snagged six catches for 42 yards and two scores. If Mike Evans’ hamstring injury is anything that hampers him long-term Palmer is likely to see an increase in playing time and receive a greater role. Trey Palmer has put his ability on display and if there is a rise in opportunities his stats should reflect that.
Most likely to win Comeback Player of the Year: Baker Mayfield
Original nominee: Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield was our original nominee and if anything, his candidacy has only been strengthened. Mayfield may lack the cachet to pull in league MVP awards but he does have the exact right amount to nab Comeback Player of the Year. Tampa Bay’s quarterback is already a headliner, tipping pundit’s tongues. As a former number one overall pick who has had his ups and downs, personally and professionally, the resurgence storyline of his career is fascinating.
Four games into his ‘last chance’ Mayfield has his team atop their division. He has contributed nearly 1,000 yards to the Buccaneers’ offense and put the ball in the endzone seven times. Tampa Bay fans may be witnessing a genuine rebirth of a former star. If that star is reborn Tampa may be the home of the 2023 NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Our unofficial award— Most likely to become a household name: Deven Thompkins
Original Nominee: Rachaad White
Rachaad White has not had an explosion, statistically, this season. That does not mean that White is performing poorly—
Do the Tampa Bay Bucs have a Raahaad White problem? https://t.co/qZjh9OEGmU— Will Walsh (@Will_Walsh_NFL) October 5, 2023
White is coming off one of his better games this year. Even still, 206 yards with a 3.3 yards per carry average are not household name numbers.
Deven Thompkins entered the bye week after pulling in his first touchdown reception. With a diving grab in the endzone, Thompkins’ score helped ice away Tampa’s week four divisional matchup.
His stats on the season don’t leap off the page (eight catches, 61 yards, one touchdown). To close observers Thompkins has stood out. 2023 is not Deven Thompkins’ first year with the Buccaneers. The key here— his role on the team, this year, does not mirror his role previously. In 2022, the receiver’s contributions were limited to 58 yards on five catches and two carries. Just four games into 2023, Thompkins already has 10 touches. He has converted those 10 touches into 83 yards and is on pace for nearly 400 scrimmage yards this season. Thompkins’ role on special teams combined with his expanding role on offense will lead him to greater notoriety amongst Tampa Bay fans.
Do you agree with our changes? Which candidates would you nominate? Are there any Buccaneers who will get their names called at this year’s NFL Honors? Comment down below.
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