Ali Marpet’s shock retirement another blow to Buccaneers’ Super Bowl nucleus

Pro Bowl left guard Ali Marpet announced his retirement Sunday, creating yet another hole on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offensive line.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers left guard Ali Marpet stunned the NFL world Sunday by announcing his retirement from football after just seven seasons. Marpet, 28, had started 101 regular-season games — and six more in the playoffs — since the Buccaneers selected him in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet announces retirement

Marpet made his decision public on social media Sunday — just two weeks before the start of a free agency period that will likely bring dramatic change to the Buccaneers.

“After seven formidable years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I’ve come to the decision to retire from the game that has given me so much,” Marpet wrote on Instagram. “This organization and the people surrounding it have helped not only fulfill a dream, but also helped build me into the person I am today.

“I’ve made Tampa Bay my home and I look forward to serving this community in the coming years. To the coaches and teammates, family and friends, an Instagram post simply can’t express the profound impact you’ve had on me. I’m eternally grateful. Thank you Tampa Bay.”

Marpet is coming off arguably the best year of his career. He was a Pro Bowler in 2021 and was set to earn $10 million in salary this fall.

General manager Jason Licht speaks on Marpet’s retiring

Following Marpet’s announcement to retire, Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht released a statement thanking the Pro Bowl guard.

“I want to thank Ali for all that he has done as a valued member of the Buccaneers organization over the past seven seasons. He has played a key role in our success both on and off the field and we will certainly miss his leadership and professionalism. It has been one of my greatest professional thrills to see his rapid ascension from a small college standout into one the NFL’s best all around offensive linemen.

“As the highest Division III player ever drafted, Ali always seemed destined for greatness on the NFL level and we simply could not have attained the success of the past two seasons without him. Off the field, as a founding member of our social justice player advisory board, Ali provided the vision and passion that was crucial to that program’s launch and ongoing work. We wish him the best and are confident he will enjoy similar success off the football field in whatever the future holds.”

Buccaneers’ Super Bowl nucleus quickly disappearing

The 2022 Buccaneers will look much different than the roster that won 29 games — regular and postseason combined — in 2020 and 2021, including Super Bowl 55. The Bucs already knew this was going to be a transitory season once Tom Brady announced his retirement. But they might not have envisioned how much different things would look in 2022.

Of the 22 players who started in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win over Kansas City, just nine are under contract and available to the Bucs a little over a year later. Rob Gronkowski might join Marpet and Brady in retirement. Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, and Leonard Fournette are on Tampa’s long list of unrestricted free agents.

What’s next for the Buccaneers’ offensive line?

The Marpet news is a significant blow to what had been one of the league’s best offensive lines in recent years. And it could lead to a total rebuild of Tampa’s interior.

Center Ryan Jensen and right guard Alex Cappa are both unrestricted free agents. Moreover, both are expected to command strong offers should they reach the open market. Spotrac estimates that Cappa will draw a long-term contract that pays him $10.7 million annually. Jensen’s calculated market value? Three years, $30.3 million.

The Bucs, with roughly $7 million in cap space as of Sunday, were in real danger of losing both. But now that Marpet and his $10 million in base salary is off their books, the Buccaneers have the resources to bring back at least one of those two.

Available interior linemen in free agency include Brandon Scherff, Laken Tomlinson, Connor Williams, Ben Jones, James Daniels, and Andrew Norwell.

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