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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs' Upcoming Depth Decisions: Offense

With the roster cutdown to 53 players looming next Tuesday, the Buccaneers are facing some difficult decisions as they try to get the numbers right at each position


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have until 4:00 p.m. ET on August 29 – next Tuesday – to trim their roster from 90 players down to the 53-man regular season limit. They have one more preseason game, against the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, to help them determine who to keep.

Coaches do not particularly enjoy the process of roster cuts, as they involve delaying, deferring or possibly ending the NFL careers of those who are let go. It is an unavoidable task, however, and Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles expects it to be difficult once again this summer.

"I don't think it's going to be any easier – it never gets easier when you tell somebody that they can't make the team," said Bowles. "You have to make them and you understand that. We have a good basis on what we want to do and where we're at."

To get to that magic number of 53, the Buccaneers will have to balance the numbers at the various positions on the depth chart, sometimes going a little light at one spot so they can keep more players at another one. Here's a look at where the Bucs' roster stands at each position prior to the cuts, the possible target numbers at each spot and the candidates for those jobs, beginning today with the offense. The defense and special teams portions of the depth chart will be examined on Thursday.


·     Number on the 90-man roster: 3

·     Number kept through cuts in 2022: 3

·     Listed starter(s): Baker Mayfield

·     Returning players: Kyle Trask

·     2023 Additions: Mayfield, John Wolford

Bowles named Mayfield the starter on Tuesday and indicated that Trask would be in the number-two spot. The decision regarding Wolford will hinge on whether the Buccaneers choose to keep a third quarterback or not, which Bowles has previously indicated would be affected on what the NFL did with its proposed 'inactive third quarterback' rule. That rule was in fact enacted, adding some value to keeping a third passer on the 53-man roster. The Buccaneers kept three quarterbacks the last two years even without the rule because Blaine Gabbert was the preferred backup choice to Tom Brady but another spot was needed to retain Trask as a possible future starter.

Running Back

·     Number on the 90-man roster: 6

·     Number kept through cuts in 2022: 4

·     Listed starter(s): Rachaad White

·     Returning players: White, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Patrick Laird

·     2023 Additions: Chase Edmonds, Sean Tucker, Ronnie Brown

The Buccaneers broke camp with four running backs last season but spent about half the season rostering only three of them while Giovani Bernard was on injured reserve. Laird, a former Dolphin, was added to the practice squad to round out the position for practice purposes and potential game day elevations if there were injuries at the position. Edmonds and Vaughn, two veterans, are listed second and third on the curent depth chart, respectively, and the Buccaneers are sure to keep at least three backs. Tucker, an undrafted free agent, has also impressed in camp and the Buccaneers could once again start with four backs and keep him, Laird or Brown.

Wide Receiver

·     Number on the 90-man roster: 11

·     Number kept through cuts in 2022: 7

·     Listed starter(s): Mike Evans, Chris Godwin

·     Returning players: Evans, Godwin, Deven Thompkins, Kaylon Geiger

·     2023 Additions: Trey Palmer, David Moore, Rakim Jarrett, Ryan Miller, Taye Barber, Kade Warner, Cephus Johnson

The Buccaneers kept a deep group of receivers in 2022, not only in Week One but throughout most of the campaign. A more common target at the receiver position is six keepers, with perhaps two or three more landing on the practice squad. Already a tough competition to parse given all of very young players making up most of the depth, it got even more uncertain when veteran Russell Gage suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Thompkins is currently the front-runner for the punt and kickoff return jobs, which could help solidify his roster position. Moore, who played in the Bucs' new offensive scheme in Seattle, is the only experienced veteran among the reserves. Jarrett, Miller, Barber and Warner, a quartet of undrafted rookies, have all had their moments in training camp and the preseason. Johnson, a converted college quarterback, is a very recent addition to the roster.

Tight End

·     Number on the 90-man roster: 6

·     Number kept through cuts in 2022: 4

·     Listed starter(s): Cade Otton, Ko Kieft

·     Returning players: Otton, Kieft, David Wells

·     2023 Additions: Payne Durham, Dominique Dafney, Tanner Taula

As it running back, this is a position that probably won't require many cuts. The Bucs generally try to keep four tight ends on the 53-man roster, particularly if one or two of them are prominent on special teams, which is the case with Kieft. With Rob Gronkowski and Cameron Brate no longer anchoring the position, it's a very young group in 2023, headed up by three 2022-23 draft picks in Otton, Kieft and Durham. Wells was on the Bucs' practice squad for the majority of last season and has shown good pass-catching chops in practice. Dafney has previously seen time with the Packers and Taula is an undrafted rookie out of Illinois State.

Offensive Line

·     Number on the 90-man roster: 16

·     Number kept through cuts in 2022: 9

·     Listed starter(s): Tristan Wirfs, Matt Feiler, Ryan Jensen, Cody Mauch, Luke Goedeke

·     Returning players: Wirfs, Jensen, Goedeke, Robert Hainsey, Nick Leverett, John Molchon, Justin Skule, Aaron Stinnie, Brandon Walton

·     2023 Additions: Feiler, Mauch, Silas Dzansi, Luke Haggard, Chris Murray, Michael Niese, Raiqwon O'Neal

The Buccaneers started last season with nine offensive linemen – not including Ryan Jensen, who was placed on injured reserve – but did fluctuate between eight and nine during the season. As for Jensen this season, he remains listed as the team's starting center but has not yet participated in full-team practice drills, throwing his availability for Week One into doubt. Hainsey and Leverett have been competing to fill that spot for whatever amount of time Jensen remains out. Positional flexibility and needs at other spots on the depth chart will factor into how this group is pared roughly in half. Players like Goedeke Hainsey, Leverett and Walton are all seen as capable of filling in at several spots on the line. There is also a good chance that two or three practice squad spots will be devoted to offensive linemen, allowing some young players to develop in the way that Leverett, Molchon and Walton have.

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