Needing to trim their roster by 10 players before 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers completed that task a day early, announcing all 10 moves on Monday afternoon. Among those released were last year's primary punter, Robert Malone, and recent unrestricted free agent signing Ashton Youboty. Second-year guard Brandon Carter was waived/injured.
All 32 teams were required to get their preseason rosters down to 80 players by August 30. After the final round of preseason games this week, clubs will reduce their rosters once again to hit the regular-season limit of 53.
The following players were all waived on Monday except for Youboty who, as a vested veteran, was released and is not subject to the waiver process:
- WR Aundrae Allison
- CB Vince Anderson
- G Brandon Carter (waived/injured)
- TE Collin Franklin
- DE Brandon Gilbeaux
- WR Detron Lewis
- P Robert Malone
- WR Jock Sanders
- FB Rendrick Taylor
- CB Ashton Youboty
Taking care of the the first roster trimming early made sense, as the remainder of the team began a short week of practice and preparation on Monday for Thursday's preseason finale.
The fact that most of the team's starters will be rested during that final warm-up game against the Washington Redskins also may have played a role in the specifics of Monday's cuts. With reserves slated to see most of the action, the Bucs likely needed to retain a certain amount of depth at some positions. For instance, the team is still carrying nine back-up offensive linemen as it heads into that Washington game, enough for almost two full line rotations even if all five starters don't play.
Three of the 10 early cuts came from the receiving corps, where there was quite a bit of depth, as is always the case coming out of training camp. The releases of Allison, Lewis and Sanders helps define the remaining battle for receiver spots on the 53-man roster.
Behind starters Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn is a young and very talented group that includes Sammie Stroughter, Dezmon Briscoe, Micheal Spurlock, Preston Parker, Ed Gant and Maurice Price. Stroughter, Briscoe, Spurlock and Parker were all on the active roster last year. Gant joined the team's practice squad for the final five games of the 2010 regular season and had a strong 2011 training camp. Price is the most recent addition to the group and thus the most intriguing figure in the receiving corps to move past the first round of cuts. He and Allison were both signed on August 14.
The Buccaneers also had quite a bit of depth at tight end, where six players saw action against Miami on Saturday with the returns from injury of Kellen Winslow and Luke Stocker. Despite the release of Franklin, the Bucs still have difficult decision to make at the tight end spot, with Ryan Purvis, Nathan Overbay and rookie Daniel Hardy all having standout moments. Those three should play extensively against the Redskins.
Malone originally signed with the Buccaneers on October 13 as an undrafted rookie who had entered the league earlier in the spring with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Malone took over for another rookie punter, Chris Bryan, and held the Bucs' job the remainder of the season, averaging 41.5 yards per punt on 52 tries. In July, the Buccaneers signed veteran free agent punter Michael Koenen, the former Atlanta Falcon standout, to a six-year contract. Malone still got an opportunity to punt during the first three preseason games and averaged 45.4 yards on 14 kicks, with a net of 41.6.
Youboty was one of two former Buffalo Bill defenders the Buccaneers signed as unrestricted free agents within a week in mid-August. The other, defensive tackle John McCargo, remained with the team through the first round of cuts.
Carter was signed as an undrafted free agent by New Orleans in the spring of 2010, but joined the Bucs' practice squad in September before getting a November promotion to the 53-man roster. Anderson split the 2010 season between the Buccaneers' practice squad and active roster, appearing in three games. Gilbeaux spent last season on injured reserve after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent. Taylor, another undrafted free agent signee in 2010, joined the Bucs' practice squad for the last month of the season. Franklin joined the Buccaneers as a rookie free agent on August 8.