FB Cecil Martin had two brief stints on the Bucs' roster in 2003
Yes, there are roster limits in the NFL, even in the offseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who spent most of March adding one player after another to their roster (and losing a handful through free agency, as well), cleared some space Thursday with the cuts of fullback Cecil Martin and kicker Carlos Martinez.
Martin, a fifth-year player who spent his first four seasons in Philadelphia, had two brief stints with the Buccaneers in 2003. He was first signed on October 14, then released two weeks later after being on the inactive list for two games. He was then re-signed on December 16 after fullback Darian Barnes went on injured reserve, and he appeared in the Bucs' season finale at Tennessee, playing on special teams.
Martin's release comes after the Bucs have bolstered the fullback position through free agency, signing Greg Comella and Deon Dyer. In addition, young reserves Jameel Cook and Darian Barnes are still in the picture (Cook is currently a restricted free agent) and the team is expecting Pro Bowl starter Mike Alstott to make a full recovery from neck surgery.
Martinez joined the Buccaneers on January 14, one of 14 reserve/future signings that day. He was earmarked for the NFL Europe League this season, but did not win a spot with one of the six NFLEL teams during February tryouts. Like Martin, Martinez originally entered the league with Philadelphia, joining the Eagles last April after a brief stint in the AFL2.
After the release of Martinez, the Bucs are back to having just one kicker on the roster, sixth-year veteran Martin Gramatica.
Busy Day at the Polls
On Wednesday, Buccaneers.com began the selection process for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers All-Time Team, to be chosen exclusively by the fans. The first position to go to the polls was cornerback.
Voting was extremely heavy on the first day. By noon on Wednesday, nearly 3,000 votes had been cast for one of 10 nominated cornerbacks. The two top vote-getters between Wednesday and next Tuesday will be named to the Buccaneers All-Time Team.
Buccaneers.com will feature one position each week, allowing fans to vote for every player to appear on the All-Time Team. The results of the polls will not be published until the entire team is announced before training camp.
Next week in the Greatest Bucs series: The centers.
The NFL may be about ready to unveil its 2004 regular season schedule.
On Monday, the first day of league meetings in Palm Beach, Florida, the NFL gave a sneak preview to that big announcement, revealing the nationally-televised games for the first weekend of the season, September 9-13. The opening game of 2004 will be a rematch of last year's AFC Championship Game, as the Indianapolis Colts visit the New England Patriots on Thursday, September 9. The game will be broadcast nationally by ABC, beginning at 9:00 p.m.
Last year, the league made a similar announcement on March 24, including the news that the defending champion Buccaneers would play at Philadelphia in the Monday Night Football opener. Ten days later, on April 4, 2003, the entire league schedule was released.
April 4 was also the release date for the NFL schedule in 2000. In 2001, the wait was a little longer, as the news was revealed on April 12. In 2002, however, the schedule came out on March 28.
The Bucs were not involved in any of the opening weekend's nationally-televised games, but it's likely that they will get some national exposure during the season. Tampa Bay has not gone a full season without at least one nationally-televised game since 1989.
The Bucs, 7-9, did not make the playoffs last year for the first time since 1998. However, following that 8-8 campaign in '98, the team was still chosen for three prime-time affairs, including one Monday Night contest. The Bucs have played on Monday night at least one time each season since 1998.
Tampa Bay shouldn't have to wait long for news on their 2004 travels. The league has not publicized a release date for this year's schedule, but suffice it to say, it should be soon.