TAMPA ― The same day veteran outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul became the latest Bucs player to have surgery, coach Bruce Arians indicated none of the procedures are expected to be season-jeopardizing.
Pierre-Paul, who had a team-leading 9.5 sacks and two interceptions during his Pro Bowl season, posted Wednesday on Instagram that he was having surgery on his left knee. “I hate surgeries,” he said to the nurse attending to him.
“Gotta get this (crap) done so I can be 100 (percent) next year,” Pierre-Paul added. “Now that’s scary!!!!”
His surgery comes nearly two weeks after the Tampa Bay Times first reported that quarterback Tom Brady would need a minor surgical procedure on his left knee. Additionally, safety Jordan Whitehead recently underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
When asked about those players’ status for the offseason, Arians said he’s not yet sure if the NFL will have a traditional offseason.
“But, yeah, there are a few guys that are getting cleanups, just like normal, especially when you play into February,” Arians said during a Zoom session with general manager Jason Licht.
“Most guys are not going to make it back if there are (organized team activities), but we’ll be more than ready to go for the season. So we’ll wait and see ... but right now it’s nothing that’s not normal.”
Donovan Smith, Ryan Jensen expected back
At this point, the Bucs would suffer no salary-cap hit if they chose to part ways with resurgent left tackle Donovan Smith and center Ryan Jensen. But don’t expect that to happen.
“We envision Ryan and Donovan both being on this team,” Licht said. “We expect them, not just envision them.”
Smith enters the final season of a three-year deal that will pay him a $14.25 million base salary in 2021, while Jensen is in the last season of a four-year deal that includes a $9.25 million base salary this year. Conceivably, the Bucs could cut both without taking a cap hit, though the team clearly wants to preserve an offensive line that mostly flourished in 2020.
“We love Ryan and Donovan,” Licht said. “They played a pivotal role in our offense, in their protection, in the run game.”
Arians still plans on going for two
Asked again Wednesday about his plans for the future, Arians, 68, indicated he hasn’t looked much past 2021.
“It depends on my golf game, because it sucks right now,” said Arians, who signed a four-year contract in 2019 with a club option for a fifth year. “If it stays this bad, I’m going to coach for a hell of a long time. ... We’re coming back and going after two and see what happens from there.”