Luke Goedeke

Bucs GM Jason Licht On Tristan Wirfs, Luke Goedeke

MAY 10: Lending more to the notion Wirfs will be on the move, Bucs offensive line coach Joe Gilbert said (via Stroud) the left side of the team’s line looks fairly set with the All-Pro on the blind side and free agency pickup Matt Feiler at left guard. After three strong seasons at right tackle, Wirfs appears on the cusp of playing a more lucrative position as a big payday nears.

MAY 7: The Buccaneers have contemplated moving right tackle Tristan Wirfs, who has earned two Pro Bowls bids and one First Team All-Pro selection in his three years in the NFL, to the left side of the line. After the Bucs failed to acquire a left tackle in last month’s draft, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times wrote that Wirfs will officially be moving to LT.

GM Jason Licht, however, says that a final decision on Wirfs’ position has not been made just yet. On a recent appearance on 95.3 WDAE, Licht said, “Now we’re still going to remain fluid here in the offseason. We’re going to see how it goes. We certainly feel very comfortable with a person like Tristan, with his skillset and his athleticism and size and intelligence and all that, that [his transition to left tackle] is gonna be pretty seamless, but that hasn’t completely been etched in stone yet” (h/t

Licht’s comments notwithstanding, it would seem that Wirfs, as Stroud indicated, is indeed ticketed for the blind side. At this stage of the offseason, the free agent left tackle options are generally uninspiring and include the likes of Eric Fisher (who did not play a snap in 2022), Jason Peters (who turned 41 in January), and Taylor Lewan (who has suffered two ACL tears in the past three years). Unless Wirfs sustains an injury or proves completely incapable of making the transition to LT, those players likely would not represent an upgrade.

Of course, assuming Wirfs does fill the void created when longtime left tackle Donovan Smith was released in March, someone will need to replace Wirfs at right tackle. Per Stroud, the first crack at that position will go to Luke Goedeke, a 2022 second-round choice. In his rookie season, Goedeke — who worked as a right tackle in college — spent the majority of his time at left guard and largely struggled.

The hope is that moving Goedeke back to RT will make him look more like a second-round draftee. He did line up at right tackle for last year’s regular season finale, and he looked much more comfortable there than he did as an interior blocker.

“We are excited about how Luke did for us at (right) tackle there at the end of the year — it’s his natural position,” Licht said.

It is unclear whether Licht made an effort to trade up from his No. 19 selection to land an OT. The Steelers moved up four spots from their No. 18 slot to nab Georgia LT Broderick Jones, and Licht passed on Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison when the Bucs were on the clock. While the Bucs did pick up North Dakota State tackle Cody Mauch on Day 2, Mauch will be converted to guard.

At present, Tampa Bay’s starting OL, from left to right, appears to be Wirfs, Nick Leverett, Ryan Jensen, Mauch, and Goedeke. That unit will be tasked with clearing more space for what was the league’s worst rushing attack in 2022 and affording presumptive QB1 Baker Mayfield sufficient time to throw.

Wirfs is already under club control through 2024 since Licht made the easy decision to exercise his fifth-year option. But if the Iowa product performs as well at left tackle as he has on the right side, his future earning power will get a significant boost.

Buccaneers Designate RB Giovani Bernard For Return

The Buccaneers offense could soon be getting some reinforcement. The team announced that they’ve designated running back Giovani Bernard to return from injured reserve. The Buccaneers now have three weeks to activate the running back to their active roster.

Bernard landed on injured reserve in September after suffering an ankle injury in Week 2. In his one-plus games this season, the 30-year-old exclusively played on special teams, including one kickoff return.

The RB hasn’t played a significant offensive role since joining the Buccaneers in 2021, as he finished his first season in Tampa Bay with only 181 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns on 31 touches. However, he’s only two years removed from a 2020 campaign that saw him finish with 771 yards from scrimmage. Leonard Fournette suffered a hip injury last week, but thanks to a Week 11 bye week, he should be good to go on Sunday. Rachaad White had a career day while filling in for Fournette, finishing with 105 rushing yards on 22 carries. Bernard made a name for himself as a pass-catcher in Cincinnati, and if Leonard’s hip injury lingers, the veteran could end up seeing more offensive snaps.

The Buccaneers got some more good injury news today, as guard Luke Goedeke and wideout Russell Gage returned to practice, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Gage has missed a month with a hamstring injury, and with the offseason acquisition now back on the field, Tom Brady will have a full grouping of wideouts heading into the final stretch of the season. Goedeke’s foot injury forced him to miss a chunk of time, and the veteran has since been jumped in the starting lineup by Nick Leverett.

Meanwhile, while safety Logan Ryan has been working out with the team, he still hasn’t been activated from injured reserve. The veteran defensive back’s foot surgery landed him on IR back in October.

Latest On Buccaneers Injuries

The Buccaneers are still dealing with their fair share of injuries, but the team could soon be welcoming back some key players. According to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, cornerback Carlton Davis II, and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting all practiced this week, a strong indication that they’re ready to return from their respective injuries.

Hicks has been sidelined since Week 2 while nursing a foot injury. The veteran defensive lineman started 77 games during his six seasons in Chicago before joining the Buccaneers this past offseason. He started each of Tampa’s first two games, collecting five total tackles. His return to the lineup will surely help a defensive line that has struggled against the run.

“It helps because it puts everybody back in their roles,” coach Todd Bowles said. “It puts everybody back in their roles and they can get the amount of time and play how they’re used to playing, and it helps us up front because it gives us a dimension we haven’t had over there.”

Davis had missed the past two games after aggravating a hip injury in Week 6. The 25-year-old started each of the Buccaneers’ first six games, collecting 31 tackles and four passes defended. Murphy-Bunting suffered a squad injury in Week 5 that forced him to miss a handful of games.

Of course, as mentioned, Tampa Bay still has a crowded injury list. Pro Bowl defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. will be out tomorrow against the Rams, as will tight end Cameron Brate, left guard Luke Goedeke, and wide receiver Russell Gage.

Latest On Ryan Jensen, Buccaneers’ Deadline Plans

A recent report indicated that Buccaneers offensive lineman Ryan Jensen could make his return as soon as next week. However, Greg Auman of The Athletic is throwing some cold water on that idea, writing that Jensen “has only a small chance of returning from his knee injury.”

[RELATED: Ryan Jensen November Return In Play?]

The veteran center suffered a knee injury during training camp that was initially feared to be season-ending. Subsequent reports provided a bit more optimism about his prospects of returning during the 2022 regular season or playoffs, and his IR placement reflected that sentiment. A few weeks ago, there were whispers that the Buccaneers were hoping Jensen would be back on the field at some point in November, with the team specifically targeting a November 6th return. The team’s Week 11 bye could also be a target return date, but now it’s sounding like we shouldn’t count on an imminent return.

Jensen, who has started all 65 of his appearances since joining Tampa Bay in 2018, would naturally provide a boost to Tampa Bay’s offensive line, although the unit has generally ranked among the top-1o through the first chunk of the season. Pro Football Focus has generally ranked Jensen among the best centers in the NFL, and the veteran earned his first career Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

Auman discussed Jensen’s potential return in the context of Tampa Bay making a trade to upgrade their offensive line. Second-round guard Luke Goedeke has struggled so far in 2022, and backup Nick Leverett doesn’t have much of a track record. Both Jensen and his current fill-in, Robert Hainsey, are under contract for next season. While the team could look for a temporary upgrade for Goedeke, Auman opines that the organization would be better off pursuing a rental before having Goedeke and Hainsey compete for one of the guard spots opposite Shaq Mason in 2023.

Who could fit that bill? For starters, Auman suggests the team could look to deal from a position of strength and pursue another team’s depth piece. The writer also points to someone like Commanders guard Andrew Norwell, who doesn’t have any guaranteed money owed beyond this season. Panthers guard Austin Corbett is also an affordable option, although he’s under contract for the 2023 campaign.

Buccaneers Rumors: CBs, OL, RBs, Mason

In line with reports we’ve been following all summer, it appears that Tampa Bay cornerback Jamel Dean has seized the starting job opposite Carlton Davis, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic. Dean was battling it out with Sean Murphy-Bunting who has held a starting role for much of his young career with the Buccaneers but whose injuries last season left the door open for Dean to make a run for the position. Recent reports seemed to indicate that Dean had the inside track on the starting role, but Auman was able to confirm it.

It was also discussed recently that if Murphy-Bunting was unable to win the job, he would only be able to come on the field in a backup capacity, since the Buccaneers would prefer to man three safeties in their nickel package this year. In nickel packages, Tampa Bay will use Davis and Dean on the outside with safeties Antoine Winfield, Logan Ryan, and Mike Edwards manning the rest of the secondary.

Head coach Todd Bowles spelled out the situation for Murphy-Bunting after awarding the starting job to Dean, saying that “he doesn’t plan on rotating his outside corners,” meaning that Murphy-Bunting’s playing time will largely come as a sub in both base and nickel packages.

Here are a few more rumors coming out of central Florida, starting with some more news on the depth chart:

  • After a frustrating offseason that saw Tampa Bay offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs deal with a postseason ankle injury, and an oblique strain once his ankle had healed, the 23-year-old finally got some good news. After he practiced the last two days, Bowles told the media that Wirfs was trending towards being able to play in Week 1, according to Andrew Crane of the Tampa Bay Times. Another youngster should be joining Wirfs on the line as rookie second-round pick Luke Goedeke is in line to start at right guard for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay doesn’t really have much of a choice with Aaron Stinnie and Ryan Jensen on injured reserve, but Goedeke will get an early opportunity to prove his draft-stock.
  • Despite his lack of experience against elite talent, rookie running back Rachaad White is drawing elite comparisons. The smooth, patient running-style that has drawn comparisons to such standouts as Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, and Le’Veon Bell, has elevated White above Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard on the depth chart, according to Auman. Tampa Bay realized that potential talent when they drafted him in the third round and they’ll hope to see some of those comparisons make their way into football games.
  • Tampa Bay got a little bit of breathing room in their cap space today as starting guard Shaq Mason agreed to restructure his contract, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. The renegotiated deal will free up over $6MM against the cap this season for the Buccaneers.

Tom Brady To Start Buccaneers’ Preseason Finale

The Buccaneers are planning on dressing any healthy starters on Saturday in the team’s third preseason contest on Saturday night. That includes Tom Brady, as noted by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). 

Brady just returned from an 11-day training camp absence which, while planned, was the cause of much speculation. He resumed practicing this week, in line with the timeframe laid out by head coach Todd Bowles; at the time, though, it was unclear if the future Hall of Famer would see any preseason action this year.

“We got together as a staff and as a team and we understand we want to see certain things, so we’re putting everybody out there,” Bowles said, via Greg Auman of The Athletic (subscription required). This will mark Brady’s first game action since the Buccaneers’ playoff loss to the Rams; as Auman notes, however, he has played in Week 3 of each preseason dating back to 2009.

The 45-year-old made waves when he retired in February, doing so again 40 days later when he reversed his decision. He will play at least one more year in Tampa, but already has his next career move (a transition to the broadcast booth with FOX) lined up.

Brady has also been involved in one of the top controversies in the league this offseason; he was (in part) the subject of the Dolphins tampering scandal which resulted in significant penalties for the team and their owner, Stephen Ross. Neither Brady nor Sean Payton – the other targeted acquisition of Miami’s illicit conversations – have been disciplined as a result of the investigation.

Stroud also reports (via Twitter) that Luke Goedeke will start at left guard. The rookie has been in the running to replace Aaron Stinnie, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. The news that he will work with the first-team offense is certainly a sign that he could win out the spot, but there will still be serious question marks about the Buccaneers’ protection in the absence of Stinnie, Ryan Jensen and Ali Marpet.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Bucs, Davidson

Matt Corral landed on the Panthers’ IR Tuesday, ending his rookie season before it started. The Lisfranc injury the third-round pick suffered will require surgery, Matt Rhule said. The Panthers had planned to carry Corral as their third-string quarterback during what was to be a developmental year, with the team wanting him to add muscle to his 205-pound frame and obviously learn a pro-style offense, per Joe Person of The Athletic. Because of Corral’s injury, the Panthers’ roster math may change. The team may no longer be preparing to carry three quarterbacks, Person notes (subscription required). This news would pertain to P.J. Walker, the former XFL 2.0 standout who has been Carolina’s backup the past two seasons. Walker, who has won both his regular-season starts but holds a career 51.6 passer rating, struggled in the Panthers’ second preseason game. The 27-year-old passer could be stashed on the practice squad — behind starter Baker Mayfield and backup Sam Darnold — if he clears waivers in the event of a cut before next week’s deadline.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • Shifting to the division’s most famous quarterback, Tom Brady is now back with the Buccaneers. The all-time great missed nearly two weeks of training camp. Family time has circulated as the reasoning behind Brady’s absence, which coincidentally occurred while the team held joint practices against the Dolphins, and Aaron Wilson of notes Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen spent time at an exclusive Bahamas resort. Not a bad arrangement, though not many players could swing such a mid-camp trip. Brady has not taken questions since the Dolphins scandal broke, but he is back practicing with the Bucs.
  • During Brady’s time away, the Bucs lost another potential O-line starter. Aaron Stinnie‘s ACL and MCL tears add to a lengthy list of changes to Tampa Bay’s interior O-line. Ali Marpet retired, Alex Cappa signed with the Bengals, and Ryan Jensen suffered what may be a season-ending injury. Jensen, however, may have a late-season return window. The Bucs are not planning to place their starting center on IR, with Albert Breer of noting the veteran blocker’s “complicated” injury could have him available for the playoffs. For now, the team will keep that door open. That would mean carrying Jensen onto the 53-man roster and then placing him on IR.
  • For now, the Bucs have 2021 third-round pick Robert Hainsey (31 offensive snaps last season) at center and would have either second-round rookie Luke Goedeke or former UDFA Nick Leverett (two career games; zero starts) at left guard opposite Shaq Mason. Goedeke would be the likely in-house solution, Greg Auman of The Athletic notes. Hainsey, who was working at guard earlier this offseason, is unlikely to be moved off his new center post, Auman adds. This would point to the Bucs, if they feel the need arises, looking at the guard market for a veteran. Ereck Flowers, Quinton Spain and James Carpenter are among the top options.
  • While the Bucs are not believed to be actively searching, the loss of two veteran blockers could be rather important in what could be Brady’s final season. The Ravens could be a trade option, Auman offers, holding a potential guard surplus featuring Tyre Phillips, Ben Cleveland and Ben Powers. The team is unlikely to keep all three.
  • Falcons defensive tackle Marlon Davidson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery recently, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes. The team had hoped Davidson, a 2020 second-round pick, would push Ta’Quon Graham to start opposite Grady Jarrett in the team’s 3-4 scheme. Graham, a 2021 fifth-rounder who started five games last season, is now in the lead. Despite his draft pedigree, Davidson has started just one game.

NFC South Rumors: Darnold, Christensen, Bucs, Murphy-Bunting, Werner

As Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield starts to run away with the starting job, questions have been raised about the future of incumbent starter Sam Darnold. When a rumor surfaced that Carolina may be shopping the fifth-year passer, general manager Scott Fitterer pulled Darnold aside to set him at ease, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic.

“I talked to Scott,” Darnold explained. “He said not to worry about it. To be honest, before he talked to me, I didn’t even see it. So I’m just gonna continue to do me and do what I can to put myself in a good position and put this team in a good position.”

Aiding Fitterer in convincing Darnold that he’s not likely to be dealt is Darnold’s $18.86MM salary. There could certainly be a team willing to make a call about Darnold if an injury occurs to their starter, but if the Panthers wanted to offload him, they’d likely have to eat some of his contract, as well.

There’s a good chance, though, that Darnold stays put. As Person explained, “in a league that saw only 12 teams make it through the 17-game regular season in 2021 with one quarterback,” the backup quarterback is still a crucially important position. And, while Darnold may not rank highly among the starters in today’s game, he certainly ranks as one of the better backup quarterbacks in the league. The backup job appears to be his, too, as long as the Panthers continue to slow play the development of rookie third-round pick Matt Corral.

Here are a few other rumors from around the NFC South, starting with another note out of the Tar Heel state:

  • As certain as it seems that rookie first-round pick Ikem Ekwonu will start the 2022 season as the Panthers’ starting left tackle, Carolina is still giving last year’s third-round pick, Brady Christensen, plenty of snaps at the position. According to Person, Christensen took the majority of the first-team reps this past Thursday at the position. Christensen has a highly sought after versatility that gives the Panthers the option of playing him as a guard or a tackle. With Ekwonu still expected to win the starting job, perhaps offensive line coach James Campen just wants to ensure his best backup option has enough experience at one of the offensive line’s most important positions.
  • The Buccaneers‘ interior offensive line will look completely different in 2022 after the departures of Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet, as well as an injury that may cause center Ryan Jensen to miss a significant amount of time. Trade acquisition Shaq Mason will man the right guard position, while the left guard and center positions are still up in the air, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. The center position is currently a battle between Robert Hainsey and Nick Leverett. Leverett is also competing for the left guard starting job with Aaron Stinnie and rookie second-round pick Luke Goedeke. A tweet from Bucs staff writer Scott Smith, though, may hint at one of the positions. Smith reports that assistant head coach & run game coordinator Harold Goodwin “hopes a decision (at left guard) will be made prior to the third preseason game” so that the new left guard can “build chemistry with Donovan Smith and (Hainsey).” Smith is projected to be the starting left tackle, so this comment from Goodwin may point to the fact that Hainsey has won the position battle at center.
  • We recently did a rundown of the Buccaneers’ cornerbacks room, but an update, provided by Matt Matera of the Pewter Report, may give us some new information. We claimed that Sean Murphy-Bunting was in a competition with Jamel Dean for the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite Carlton Davis, but that the loser of that battle would still likely get plenty of time as the top option at nickel. According to Matera, though, Murphy-Bunting is no longer working in the slot and is solely competing with Dean for the outside job. Matera adds that Dean seems to have the inside-track which will leave Murphy-Bunting coming off the bench.
  • It appears that Saints second-year linebacker Pete Werner has taken hold of the starting weak-side linebacker position next to Demario Davis, according to Jeff Duncan of Duncan comments that the staff’s confidence in Werner is high enough that it assisted in their decision to allow former starter Kwon Alexander to walk in free agency.

Buccaneers Sign Round 2 G Luke Goedeke

The Buccaneers trotted out their Ali MarpetAlex Cappa guard tandem for the past three seasons, seeing the duo play a steady role on the team’s Super Bowl LV journey. Both players’ offseason exits — Marpet to retirement and Cappa to Cincinnati in free agency — created a rare glaring need for the Bucs during their Tom Brady period.

After trading for Shaq Mason, the Bucs invested again at the position by drafting Luke Goedeke in the second round. The Bucs signed the Central Michigan product to his four-year rookie contract Monday. Tampa Bay traded up three spots to nab the converted tight end at No. 57.

The second of two second-round picks the Bucs made, Goedeke will move from right tackle to guard. This should be an easier transition, position-wise at least, than the one the 6-foot-5 blocker made in college. Goedeke played tight end at Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He converted to right tackle at Central Michigan, playing there throughout 2019 and remaining an O-line fixture in 2021. Goedeke redshirted in 2018 and missed all of 2020 due to injury, but he finished as a first-team All-MAC blocker last season.

Mason is locked in at right guard, leaving Goedeke to vie for the other guard post with veterans. The Bucs re-signed backup Aaron Stinnie this offseason and have 2021 third-rounder Robert Hainsey representing competition as well. The losers of this battle would represent depth for the reigning NFC South champions.

Stinnie started the Bucs’ final three games in their Super Bowl-winning season, replacing an injured Cappa. Hainsey spent his final season in college at tackle and developed at center as an NFL rookie. He is now striving for a first-string guard role, though the cross-training would also stand to help him as a swing backup.

Bucs Acquire No. 57 To Take Luke Goedeke

Central Michigan offensive lineman Luke Goedeke finally hears his name called as the Buccaneers were tired of seeing him slide down the board. Tampa Bay traded up four spots to make sure the 23-year-old found his way to Central Florida.

Goedeke moved from tight end to offensive tackle during his redshirt season with the Chippewas, earning the team’s starting right tackle position as a redshirt sophomore. Goedeke missed the 2020 season due to a knee injury, but came back strong to earn All-Mid-American honors as a redshirt junior.

Despite spending his college career at tackle, Goedeke projects as an interior lineman at the next level. This fills a huge position of need for the Buccaneers who lost Alex Cappa to free agency and Ali Marpet to retirement.

The Bucs’ received the pick used to draft Goedeke from the Bills, giving them their No. 60 pick and No. 180 (6th round) pick in exchange.