Note: This story has been updated to reflect Stephon Gilmore's trade from New England to Carolina, as the Buccaneers were reportedly going to look into Gilmore's availability.
It turns out that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary is going to be without two starters for quite some time.
The unit has been banged up badly to begin the 2021 season. The team lost nickel cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting to the injured reserve after a Week 1 elbow injury, while outside cornerback Jamel Dean is seemingly week-to-week after injuring his knee in Week 3 and not playing this past Sunday.
Against the New England Patriots this past weekend, another two members of the secondary went down: Outside corner Carlton Davis III (quad), the team's best defensive back, and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion protocol). Head coach Bruce Arians shared on Monday that he didn't expect Winfield Jr. to clear protocol before the Bucs' Week 5 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Meeting with media again on Wednesday, Arians offered updates on Murphy-Bunting and Davis - and they weren't promising.
“I don’t see either one of them coming back any time soon," Arians said grimly.
Along with Dean's status being up in the air, the Bucs will turn to recently-signed cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Pierre Desir to fill in. Arians offered both players significant praise earlier this week for their debut performances with the Bucs against the Pats.
The Buccaneers were reportedly going to look into the availability of former Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore as he was expected to be released on Wednesday, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. However, New England was able to put together a last-second trade and will send Gilmore to Carolina instead, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
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