QB Akili Smith started four games for the Frankfurt Galaxy this spring
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released fifth-year quarterback Akili Smith, six weeks shy of the start of training camp.
The move leaves the Bucs with four quarterbacks on the roster, the number they have typically taken to camp. The team has made two additions to its QB depth chart since signing Smith on February 18. During draft weekend, Tampa Bay traded a sixth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for second-year passer Luke McCown. After the draft, the team signed college free agent Jared Allen out of Florida Atlantic.
In addition, the Bucs reached agreement on a new, long-term contract with 2004 starter Brian Griese just before free agency, and also have promising third-year man Chris Simms on the roster.
Smith's stint with the team basically covered the duration of the 2005 NFL Europe season, in which he participated as a member of the Frankfurt Galaxy. The Buccaneers signed Smith as a free agent just after he had chosen to play in Europe, then made him part of their 10-player allocation list. The Galaxy's season ended on Saturday, June 4, and Smith returned to Tampa for last week's organized team activity (OTA) days at Buc headquarters.
Smith earned a roster exemption for the Buccaneers by playing in Europe, and the team keeps that exemption even after the player's release. However, it can only be used on a player who participated in the NFLEL's season this spring.
Smith first entered the NFL as the third player drafted overall in 1999, by the Cincinnati Bengals, in the same quarterback-heavy draft that produced first-rounders Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Daunte Culpepper and Cade McNown. He spent four seasons with the Bengals, playing in 22 games and starting 17. After struggling throughout his tenure in Cincinnati, Smith went to training camp with Green Bay in 2003 but did not play in the league in either of the last two seasons.
As a Buccaneer allocate with the Galaxy, Smith played in nine games and started four, often splitting time with the New York Jets' Kevin Eakin. Smith completed 53 of 84 passes for 589 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions while in Europe.
The Buccaneers report to training camp on Thursday, July 28.
National Player Assigned to Bucs
The Buccaneers will have an additional player in practice this fall thanks to the NFL International Development Practice Squad program.
Now in its second year, the program will place one NFL Europe "national" players on the practice squad rosters of each of the teams in the NFC South and AFC West divisions. The Buccaneers have been assigned Claudius Osei, a German safety who played for the Hamburg Sea Devils this spring.
An extra spot will be created on the Bucs' practice squad for Osei, meaning the team will still have the other eight spots to use as it sees fit. Osei will remain on the Bucs' practice squad for the entire season but will not be eligible to be signed to the active roster.
The 6-0, 195-pound Osei is no stranger to Florida, having played for the Florida State Seminoles from 2001-04. He recorded 117 tackles, one interception, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles as a collegian after arriving in the United States as a high school German exchange student in 1999. As a prep, he helped North Florida Christian in Tallahassee to the 2A state championship in 2000.
This spring, Osei joined the Sea Devils five weeks into the season and played on both defense and special teams, starting one game. He contributed two tackles and a pair of stops on special teams for Hamburg, which also boasted Buccaneer-allocated players Todd France, Derek McCoy and Terrance Metcalf.
Final OTA Days
This week, the Bucs will burn the final three "organized team activity" (OTA) days from their offseason allotment of 14.
The team will take the field for roughly 90 minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the last bit of work before next week's mandatory mini-camp. All OTA days are voluntary, but they have been very well-attended in Tampa this spring. The Bucs used two of their OTA days last week, and had almost every player on the roster at team headquarters.