The Buccaneers agreed to terms with more than a dozen rookies following the conclusion of the 2016 NFL Draft.
As he wrapped up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2016 draft efforts, General Manager Jason Licht said this about the team's roster: "It's time for the fresh blood."
That comment was prompted not only by the seven players the team drafted from Thursday through Saturday but also by the decision to release eight players at the end of last week's veteran mini-camp. As it turned out, those roster moves allowed for the infusion of even more fresh blood. At the conclusion of the draft on Saturday evening Buccaneer scouts and coaches began calling targeted players who had slipped through all seven rounds, and ended up convincing 19 of them to come to Tampa.
That impressive haul of rookie free agents included Auburn running back Peyton Barber and Notre Dame safety Elijah Shumate. All 19 have agreed to terms and will be officially signed on Thursday when they arrive in Tampa for the team's rookie mini-camp. The Buccaneers also announced on Monday that they had released veteran kicker Connor Barth in the wake of drafting Florida State's Roberto Aguayo on Friday night.
The Buccaneers also announced on Monday that they had released kicker Connor Barth and defensive end Martin Ifedi. Barth, whose release comes in the wake of the team drafting Florida State's Roberto Aguayo on Friday night, departs as the most accurate field goal kicker in franchise history (83.8%) and as a player who garnered much respect during his two stints with the team.
"Connor has been a productive and efficient kicker in the league over the years and I know he still has plenty of kicks left in his career," said General Manager Jason Licht. "This past weekend we drafted Roberto Aguayo because we believe he is special and we decided to release Connor in order to give him the best opportunity to explore the market and find the best situation for himself. We would like to thank Connor for all that he has done both on and off the football field during his time as a Buccaneer and we wish him continued success in the future."
The Bucs' latest crop of undrafted free agents hails from all over the country, from Oregon to Auburn with many stops in between. There are players from huge programs like Notre Dame and South Carolina, and others from such small schools as Kutztown and West Chester. Here is the complete list of signings revealed by the Buccaneers on Monday:
That group of newcomers brings the Buccaneers' offseason roster to its 90-man limit. It also adds a considerable boost to the aforementioned mini-camp, which will begin on Friday and which will also include some additional rookies participating on a tryout basis. Most of the players above will make it to training camp with the Buccaneers during the summer, which will give them an opportunity to crack the regular-season roster as some undrafted players inevitably do each fall. Last year, rookie free agents Jude Adjei-Barimah, Donteea Dye and Adam Humphries all ended up playing significant roles during the regular season. Adjei-Barimah, a cornerback out of Bowling Green, started seven games while wide receivers Dye (from Heidelberg) and Humphries (Clemson) were prominent parts of the team's passing attack after injuries to Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy.
A look at the newest members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Among those 19 undrafted free agents, Auburn running back Peyton Barber, West Georgia guard Dominique Robertson and Notre Dame safety Elijah Shumate all took part in this year's NFL Scouting Combine, an indication that they were considered strong candidates to be drafted. Barber, a second cousin of former Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber, ran for 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns as a redshirt sophomore last fall. The 6-5, 324-pound Robertson played tackle at West Georgia after transferring from Texas Tech but may be best suited on the interior line in the NFL. Robertson is also the nephew of George Warhop, the Buccaneers' offensive line coach. Shumate started 12 games for the Irish as senior and showed explosive tackling skills.
Barber will have some built-in support in the Bucs' mini-camp this weekend, as the Buccaneers also enticed two other Auburn players to come to Tampa in defensive lineman Davonte Lambert and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. Northwestern safety Traveon Henry will also see a familiar face at One Buccaneer Place in former Wildcat fullback Dan Vitale, the Buccaneers' second sixth-round draft pick.
Anthony Kelly is trying to become the first player from Kutztown University to play in the NFL in more than a decade, but he wouldn't be the first Golden Bear wide receiver to make it big in the NFL. Former Buffalo Bills star Andre Reed, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, was drafted out of Kutztown in 1985. The other wide receiver on the list above has even more obscure collegiate roots; if Dez Stewart makes it he will be the first Ohio Dominican player in the NFL since Dom Albanese played for the Columbus Tigers in 1925.