The NFL's deadline for trimming preseason rosters to 75 men doesn't arrive until 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got to work early by waiving or releasing seven players on Monday. In addition, cornerback Anthony Gaitor and running back Michael Smith were placed on injured reserve.
However, one of the roster spots created by those moves was immediately used to sign rookie tight end Mike Shanahan. The team will need to further reduce its roster by seven players before Tuesday's deadline.
Four players were waived by the Buccaneers on Monday: wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, defensive end Ernest Owusu, quarterback Adam Weber and defensive end Markus White. Three veterans who are not subject to the waiver wire – wide receiver Derek Hagan, fullback Spencer Larsen and safety Troy Nolan – were released.
Gaitor tore the ACL in his right knee during Saturday's win over the Miami Dolphins. He played in each of the first three preseason games and contributed five tackles and one pass defensed. A seventh-round draft pick by the Buccaneers in2 011, Gaitor has played in 12 regular-season games with two starts and recorded 10 tackles, five passes defensed and two stops on special teams. Last year, he was the first Buccaneer to be placed on the new "designated for return" injured reserve list, carrying that designation for eight weeks due to a hamstring injury before returning to the active roster and playing in the last four contests.
Smith was also a seventh-round pick by the Buccaneers – in the 2012 draft – and like Gaitor he made the active roster as a rookie. After playing in the season opener and returning three kickoffs for 55 yards, he was placed on the game day inactive list for each of the next 15 contests. This preseason, Smith had five carries for 15 yards and three kickoff returns for 113 yards, including a 63-yarder against New England. However, he suffered a ligament tear in his left foot in the Patriots game and will spend his second NFL campaign on I.R.
Shanahan, who shares a name but no relation with the Washington Redskins' head coach, played collegiately at Pitt and entered the NFL this spring as an undrafted free agent with the New York Jets. He played in one preseason game with the Jets, catching one pass for 13 yards, before being waived last Friday.
At Pitt, the 6-5, 225-pound Shanahan played wide receiver and appeared in 50 games over four seasons, racking up 159 receptions for 2,276 yards and 11 touchdowns. His career reception total ranks fifth all time in Panthers school history. A four-time Big East All-Academic selection, Shanahan also earned second-team all-conference honors last fall after catching 62 passes for 983 yards and six touchdowns, posting three 100-yard receiving games during the season.
Mitchell and White are both third-year players. Mitchell, who signed with the Buccaneers in June, played in two of the first three preseason games but did not have a catch. White spent most of last year on Tampa Bay's practice squad but was promoted to the active roster on two occasions and eventually played in the last two games of the season.
Weber and Owusu are both first-year players. Weber spent the entire 2012 rookie season on Tampa Bay's practice squad after doing the same with the Denver Broncos as a rookie in 2011. He appeared in one preseason game this summer, completing two of six passes for seven yards and two interceptions and gaining 14 yards on two carries. Owusu had several stints on the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad last year before signing in the same capacity with the Buccaneers in November.
Originally a third-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2006, Hagan has played four other NFL teams, most recently appearing in 14 games with the Oakland Raiders last season and contributing 20 catches. He signed with the Buccaneers on June 13. Larsen, who joined the Bucs three days into training camp this summer, played for the New England Patriots last fall after three seasons with the Denver Broncos. Nolan signed with the Buccaneers on July 29, was released a week later and then returned on August 10. He split last season between Miami and Houston after spending his first three seasons with the Texans.