Feb 4, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea (50) against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Bucs GM: Vita Vea’s fifth-year option will be picked up

Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Thursday that the club will pick up the fifth-year option on mammoth defensive tackle Vita Vea.

That would place the 12th overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft under contract for 2022 at $7.6 million.

Vea played in just five regular-season games in 2020 after suffering a gruesome right ankle injury in a contest against the Chicago Bears on Oct. 8.

The ankle was badly fractured and the overwhelming belief was that Vea’s season was over. But he returned to play in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers and the Super Bowl win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

“He plays a very pivotal role in our defense,” Licht told reporters. “When he’s in there, a lot of things happen, not just for him but everybody else around him. The day that we found out that he was gonna come back and play, it was a very big day for all of us, a very exciting day — coaches, players, scouts, owners, everybody. We were all very excited.”

Vea, 26, has 73 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 34 games (29 starts) over three NFL seasons. Just as important as the numbers is that he often clogs the interior of the line with his 6-foot-4, 347-pound frame.

The Buccaneers have kept all the starters off their championship squad but reserve wideout Antonio Brown remains unsigned. An NFL Network report says the two sides are not close in terms of the money.

–Field Level Media

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