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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Tilt Towards Offense on Initial 53-Man Roster of 2022

Tampa Bay's first 53-man roster of the season includes 27 offensive players, including seven receivers, four running backs and four tight ends, along with 23 defensive players and three specialists


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made 27 roster moves on Tuesday to trim an 80-man roster down to the regular-season limit of 53, in the process creating a roster that goes heavier on offense than defense.

Three spots were used for specialists – kicker Ryan Succop, punter Jake Camarda and long-snapper Zach Triner – creating the possibility of an even 25-25 split between offense and defense, but the Buccaneers actually kept 28 players through the initial cutdown. That includes seven receivers, four tight ends and four running backs.

There is, of course, the potential, or perhaps even likelihood, of additional moves in the days to come that will even that split up a bit. For instance, it is likely that the Buccaneers will place injured center Ryan Jensen on injured reserve, opening up a spot for the possible return or addition of a defensive player. After Tuesday's moves, the roster included just three safeties and only eight defensive backs overall. The roster also currently includes just four outside linebackers and four inside linebackers.

There are 16 players on the initial 53-man roster who were not with the Buccaneers on either the active roster or the practice squad last season, including seven of the team's 2022 draft picks. The only 2022 draftee who was not retained was seventh-round outside linebacker Andre Anthony. Those newcomers include such likely starters as guard Shaq Mason, defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, wide receiver Russell Gage and rookie guard Luke Goedeke.

Starting Wednesday, the Buccaneers will begin building a 16-man practice squad, which means that many of the players who did not make it through Tuesday's cuts will be back in the building.

Listed below is how the initial 53-man roster breaks down, with the players listed alphabetically at each position (rookies marked with an asterisk).

Quarterbacks (3): Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Kyle Trask

There were no surprises here as Brady is back for a third season at the helm of the Buccaneers' offense and the team clearly values Gabbert's experience as the top back-up. Second-year man Kyle Trask, a second-round draft pick in 2021, played extensively in the preseason as the team continues to evaluate if he is a long-term option at the position. Ryan Griffin could return to the practice squad, where he spent all of last season, and remain with the organization for an eighth straight season.

Running Backs (4): Giovani Bernard, Leonard Fournette, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Rachaad White*

Fournette is the clear starter as he heads into a new multi-year deal but White, the third-round pick out of Arizona State, showed signs during the preseason that he could carve out a significant role in the backfield. Vaughn was also impressive in the preseason finale at Indianapolis while the veteran Bernard sat out the last two games due to injury. The only cut was mid-camp additional Patrick Laird, who could provide practice squad depth if Bernard is out for any length of time.

Wide Receivers (7): Jaelon Darden, Mike Evans, Russell Gage, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman

Evans, Godwin, Gage and Jones were widely considered to be the Bucs' top four options at receiver, leaving a deep group of talented candidates to vie for the other two or three spots. The Bucs chose to go deep at the position, at least to start the season, perhaps due to remaining uncertainty as to when Godwin and Gage would return from their respective injuries. Darden, Miller and Perriman secured the other three spots over the likes of Tyler Johnson and the rookie trio of Deven Thompkins, Kaylon Geiger and Jerreth Sterns. It is likely the Buccaneers will try to bring at least a couple of those receivers back on the practice squad. Darden, Miller and Perriman will probably be counted on to make special teams contributions when they are active on game day.

View photos of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2022 53-man roster.

Tight Ends (4): Cameron Brate, Ko Kieft, Cade Otton, Kyle Rudolph

This is one of the most transformed positions on the depth chart from last season, with Brate as the only returning player. The Bucs opted to keep both of their 2022 draft picks, fourth-rounder Otton and sixth-rounder Kieft, with Kieft securing the fourth spot with a rugged display of blocking in the preseason. The Buccaneers only kept three tight ends on the 53-man roster for most of last season but may have gone deeper this year in order to find different combinations to make up for the loss of all-around standout Rob Gronkowski. The only cut at the position was undrafted rookie JJ Howland, who may have shown enough in August to secure a practice squad spot.

Offensive Linemen (10): Luke Goedeke*, Robert Hainsey, Ryan Jensen, Fred Johnson, Nick Leverett, Shaq Mason, Donovan Smith, Brandon Walton, Josh Wells, Tristan Wirfs

While this group is a little deeper on the 53-man roster than usual, it probably won't stay that way for long. The team is expected to place Jensen, their Pro Bowl center, on injured reserve due to the knee injury he sustained on the second day of training camp. However, it remains possible that Jensen could return at some point during the season, and to preserve the ability to activate him from the I.R. list the Bucs had to first get him through the cuts to the 53-man roster. Walton, a first-year player who spent all of last year on Tampa Bay's practice squad, was probably the longest shot to make the cut when camp began but he impressed with his versatility and strength.

Defensive Linemen (6): Will Gholston, Akiem Hicks, Logan Hall*, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Patrick O'Connor, Vita Vea

Vea, Hicks and Gholston are expected to create a formidable front for the Buccaneers' defense, with top draft pick Hall providing a pass-rush boost. Nunez-Roches returns to reprise his valuable role as the team's back-up nose tackle while O'Connor is one of the team's best special teams players. The Buccaneers carried two or three extra defensive linemen on the practice squad for much of last season and they could try to bring back such cut players as Willington Previlon, Mike Greene or Benning Potoa'e.

Outside Linebackers (4): Shaquil Barrett, Carl Nassib, Anthony Nelson, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

The Buccaneers generally only use four players in their edge rush rotation but last year they still carried a fifth player at the position in former undrafted signee Cam Gill. Gill was in line for a larger role in 2022 before he suffered a season-ending foot injury in the first preseason game. The team responded by bringing back Nassib, who played for the Bucs in 2018 and 2019. The Buccaneers did not retain Anthony or recent pick-up Genard Avery so they could be in search of some more depth at that position, either through the return of one of them on the practice squad or on Wednesday's robust waiver wire.

Inside Linebackers (4): K.J. Britt, Lavonte David, Olakunle Fatukasi*, Devin White

Fatukasi, who led the defense in tackles in the preseason and added 1.5 sacks and two passes defensed, was the only undrafted rookie to make the initial 53-man roster. The former Rutgers standout joins Britt as backups to the star duo of David and White and will likely have a large role on special teams. The Buccaneers traded one of their most active players on special teams in 2021, Grant Stuard, to the Colts on Tuesday morning.

Cornerbacks (5): Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, Dee Delaney, Zyon McCollum*, Sean Murphy-Bunting

McCollum, a fifth-round rookie out of Sam Houston State, makes the cut despite currently being sidelined by injury. Delaney provides healthy depth behind the expected trio of Davis, Dean and Murphy-Bunting, with the latter two battling for one starting spot opposite Davis. Undrafted rookies Don Gardner and Kyler McMichael could be candidates for the practice squad.

Safeties (3): Mike Edwards, Keanu Neal, Antoine Winfield Jr.

It would be a surprise if the Buccaneers headed into the regular season with only three safeties, particularly given the apparently significant plans they had for veteran Logan Ryan, an offseason addition. Ryan was released on Tuesday, but possibly just as a temporary move to hold a roster spot for Jensen for one day. The Buccaneers were also impressed with undrafted rookie Nolan Turner out of Clemson and could be looking to bring him back on the practice squad if he clears waivers.

Specialists (3): Jake Camarda*, Ryan Succop, Zach Triner

The Bucs drafted Camarda in the fourth round in April, marking a youthful turn from incumbent Bradley Pinion, but they chose to stick with the experienced veteran at placekicker. Succop won a preseason battle with first-year kicker Jose Borregales, who spent his rookie season on the Bucs' practice squad before getting a chance to compete for the job in 2022.

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