Buccaneers Re-Sign DL William Gholston

In an offseason featuring the re-signings of Mike Evans and Lavonte David, another player who has contributed more than 10 years of service to the Buccaneers is staying. William Gholston is coming back for a 12th season in Tampa.

The veteran defensive lineman agreed to terms to stay with the Bucs for a 12th season. The 2013 draftee has only played for one NFL team. This will be the third straight offseason in which Gholston has signed a Bucs contract; he agreed to one-year deals in 2022 and ’23. Gholston played for $2.7MM last year and $4.5MM in 2022.

Not many NFL teams in recent years have employed three players who have been around for at least 10 years together. The Eagles’ former “Core Four” held that distinction, and with Evans back after completing his 10th season, this Bucs group qualifies. While Gholston does not hold the kind of role Evans and David do, he is the team’s second-longest-tenured player — behind David, a 2012 second-round pick.

Although Gholston no longer operates as a full-time starter along Tampa Bay’s D-line, he played in 16 games last season (one start) for a team that made a surprise venture to the divisional round. Gholston’s Tampa Bay stay coincides with Jason Licht‘s; the GM’s first offseason doubled as Gholston’s NFL arrival. The team retaining Todd Bowles as head coach certainly helps Gholston’s cause, as the latter has played in Bowles’ system for the past five seasons.

Gholston, 32, is in rare territory in terms of games played as a Buccaneer. Only five players — three of them Hall of Famers — have suited up more times than the Michigan State alum, who has played 169 career contests. Gholston trails only Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks, tight end Dave Moore, tackle Paul Gruber and David among games played with the franchise. Staying healthy this season would vault David and Gholston into the top three on this list.

After totaling 20 QB hits in 2020 and compiling 7.5 sacks between the ’20 and ’21 seasons, Gholston logged only 244 defensive snaps last season — a career-low number. But the Bucs clearly value his place on their D-line. The team has Vita Vea and recent high picks Logan Hall and Calijah Kancey along its defensive front; ex-Rams Super Bowl LVI starter Greg Gaines remains under contract as well. Gholston, who has 19.5 career sacks (none over the past two years), will rejoin during an offseason focused on the Bucs retaining everyone they can.

The Bucs have brought back Evans, David, Baker Mayfield and Chase Edmonds; they also circled back to Jordan Whitehead, who spent the past two seasons with the Jets. Like Whitehead, Gholston was a key backup in Super Bowl LV. For his career, however, Gholston has started 88 games — including 22 between the 2020 and ’21 seasons — and would be in place to add to that total if injuries affect the Bucs’ younger D-linemen.

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