The Buccaneers went on an unbelievable journey in the 2020-21 NFL season. In a season with so many questions surrounding them, the Buccaneers continued to grind and continuously get better week in and week out. Newly acquired quarterback Tom Brady wasn’t going to let the craziness of the outside world deter what the mission was for this year’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After their horrendous showing against Kansas City in the regular season, something clicked, and as they say, the rest is history. As good as the offense was this past season, anyone can see that defensively the Buccaneers were elite last season. The unsung hero of that defense: Vita Vea.
The 2018 first-round pick has been very durable in his three seasons in Tampa Bay, but this past season would be the first real hurdle for the big man to clear. He was injured in a Week 5 matchup in Chicago. Vea was pursuing another tackle for loss when he hit the ground, fracturing his ankle. Tampa Bay fans watched the rest of the season, not expecting the defensive stopper back in 2020, but miraculously after a 7-week layoff, Vita made his much-anticipated return to the gridiron.
He will be hitting the free-agent market after the 2021 season, so what will Jason Licht do with the big man from Washington? There is absolutely no question the Buccaneers will extend Vita Vea this year, avoiding free agency. This is where Vita compares against some of the league greats during their first three seasons.
Vita Vea – Games Played: 34 | Combined Tackles: 73 | Assisted Tackles: 27 | Sacks: 7.5 | Interceptions: 0
Aaron Donald – Games Playes: 48 | Combined Tackles: 164 | Assisted Tackles: 46 | Sacks: 28 | interceptions: 0
Warren Sapp – Games Played: 46 | Combined Tackles: 136 | Assisted Tackles: 31 | Sacks: 22.5 | Interceptions: 0
These statistics may seem lopsided to some fans out there, but remember Vita Vea only appeared in FIVE regular-season games this past year. Vita is a difference-maker in Todd Bowles’ defensive scheme. When Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was asked about him, he said, “We have to know where Vita Vea is on every play.” This is high praise from the former league MVP and should tell the organization everything they need to know when the time comes to discuss a new contract for Vita. In a defense full of stars, the 6’4 346-pound man-child may just shine the brightest