The Buccaneers have made a switch at outside linebacker. Head coach Todd Bowles said on a recent appearance on the Buccaneers Radio Network that third-round rookie YaYa Diaby, who earned the first start of his pro career against the Colts last week, will start opposite Shaq Barrett moving forward, thereby relegating Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to reserve duty (via JoeBucsFan.com).
Tryon-Shoyinka, a 2021 first-rounder, solidified himself as a starting OLB at the end of his rookie season and started 16 of Tampa Bay’s 17 games in 2022. He posted four sacks and 10 QB hits in 2021, but despite playing nearly twice as many snaps the following season, he again registered four sacks and just 14 QB hits. Thus far this season, he has again tallied four sacks to go along with six QB hits.
The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus consider Tryon-Shoyinka a slightly above-average edge defender in 2023, assigning him a 67.1 overall score and a 63.5 mark as a pass rusher, which are nearly identical to the grades he earned in 2022. That is a respectable enough performance, but at this point, the Bucs probably expected more from a former first-round pick in his third professional campaign. As Bowles said, Diaby “does some things better than Joe” and “probably is the [physically] strongest [outside linebacker] we have out there.”
In roughly 150 fewer snaps, Diaby has matched Tryon-Shoyinka’s sack total and has recorded just one fewer QB hit. He turned in a two-sack performance in Tampa Bay’s Week 11 loss to the 49ers, which is what prompted Bowles to elevate him to the starting lineup against Indianapolis in Week 12.
The hope, of course, is that Diaby can provide more of a consistent threat to opposing quarterbacks, especially since Barrett — who suffered a torn Achilles in the middle of last season — is struggling to match the level of production he has enjoyed for much of his Bucs tenure. Buoyed by strong showings from D-linemen Vita Vea and Calijah Kancey, the club at least has managed to remain in the middle of the pack in terms of total sacks.
While Bowles did say that Tryon-Shoyinka would still see playing time, the demotion comes at a very bad time for the Washington product. Tampa Bay will have to make a decision on his fifth-year option by May 2024, and it seems unlikely the team will exercise it. The option would give Tryon-Shoyinka a fully-guaranted salary of $12.8MM in 2025.