The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trimmed their roster from 75 players to the regular-season limit of 53 on Saturday, and in so doing confirmed several of the dominant storylines that emerged in the team’s training camp at the start of August.
The receiving corps has newfound depth. The 2009 and 2010 draft classes are a huge part of the team’s new foundation. Preseason performance matters. A player’s origin – be it as a high-profile free agent or an undrafted rookie – is irrelevant in the face of on-the-field production.
All of those storylines, in fact, are reflected in the group of receivers with which the Bucs will start the season. The team kept seven receivers, at least one more than the most common 53-man roster number, releasing only veteran Michael Clayton on Saturday. Among those seven are three players drafted in the last two springs:
- CB Brandon Anderson
- RB Carlos Brown
- WR Michael Clayton
- C Jonathan Compas (waived/injured)
- G Marc Dile
- T Xavier Fulton
- TE Jeron Mastrud
- LB Rico McCoy
- DT Dre Moore
- DT Carlton Powell
- C Donovan Raiola
- CB Derrick Roberson
- LB Lee Robinson
- DE James Ruffin
- QB Jevan Snead
- FB Rendrick Taylor
- CB Trae Williams
Not on that list: Any of the nine players drafted by the Bucs this past April, which could prove to be one of the most impactful draft classes in franchise history. It would have been an upset, of course, had the team not kept any of the players it selected in the first four rounds – defensive tackles
NFL teams usually have general targets for the numbers of players they would like to keep at each position – say, six linebackers or three tight ends. However, the respective talent levels at those various positions can sometimes prompt a team to go over or under their targets in order to keep the best 53 players overall. In addition to wide receiver, the safety position seems to have caught the eyes of the coaching staff, as five players were kept in that crew. That includes Grimm and 2009 holdover
In fact, Lynch might be the best example of a player who solidified a potentially shaky hold on the roster with a strong showing on the field in the four preseason games. Lynch finished the preseason with 12 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defensed, one quarterback pressure, one special teams tackle and one blocked punt. He even saved his best performance for last, leading the Bucs to a 24-17 win in the preseason finale at Houston with two interceptions, one of which he returned 91 yards for a touchdown.
As is often the case, the 53-man roster includes several players who beat the odds after entering the league as undrafted free agents. This year, that exciting journey was made by Parker and Eastern Kentucky tackle
Hardman’s versatility, and the every-position abilities of third-year man
Though Saturday’s moves comprised the last of the mandatory roster cuts before the regular season opener, the Bucs generally avoid referring to the results as the “final” roster. With cuts being made across the NFL, teams will spend Saturday and Sunday scouring the waiver wire to see if there are any possible improvements for their 53-man rosters out there.
The Buccaneers will also form the first iteration of their eight-man practice squad in the coming days, so some of the players who were released on Saturday will return to the team in that capacity.