The Buccaneers' 53-Man roster.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have completed their offseason program and are now enjoying a final break before the start of training camp in roughly five weeks. Players will return in late July, the coaches a bit earlier than that.
In the meantime, Jason Licht's player personnel staff will continue to operate, though their likely won't be much activity involving the Buccaneers' roster. That 90-man list could get a tweak or two over the next month – last summer, the team signed cornerback Jude Adjei-Barimah just before the start of camp, for example – but for the most part the training camp roster is set.
So, now that free agency is all but over, the draft is in the past and the last mini-camp practice has wrapped up, let's break down the Buccaneers' roster, position by position, in anticipation of the start of camp. Today, the offense; on Friday, the defense and special teams. There is a key at the bottom of the page explaining abbreviations used in the positional reviews.
- Returning Players (3): Mike Glennon, Ryan Griffin, Jameis Winston
- 2016 Additions (1): Dan LeFevour (FA)
- Projected Starter(s): Winston
- Potential Total Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2016: 2-3
- Number Taken to Training Camp in 2015*: 3 (Glennon, Winston, Seth Lobato)
- Number Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2015^: 3 (Glennon, Griffin, Winston)
- Key Team & Individual Statistics from 2015: 4,042 passing yards; 22/15 TD/INT ratio; 58.3% completion pct.
The Buccaneers only took three quarterbacks to training camp a year ago, but it's not unusual to have four passers in August. It's possible – and it will certainly be speculated – that the addition of LeFevour in April gives the Buccaneers a little flexibility if Glennon trade talks heat up again. The Buccaneers put great value on having the experienced Glennon behind Winston but would have to at least listen if a QB-needy team came calling.
View some of the best pictures of QB Jameis Winston at the Buccaneers' mini-camp and OTAs.
That same dynamic makes this an important training camp for Griffin, who came to Tampa as a waiver claim from the Saints after the league's final round of cuts in September. The Bucs kept Griffin on their active roster throughout the 2015 season, obviously not wanting to expose him on the practice squad to other potential suitors. Griffin impressed the Bucs' offensive coaches during practice last fall, but he has yet to take a regular-season NFL snap and this will be his first camp and preseason slate in Tampa. Griffin will look to reinforce the team's positive impression of him so they will once again hold a roster spot open in the fall. And, of course, Griffin may eventually replace Glennon as Winston's primary backup.
Otherwise Training Camp 2016, as it relates to the quarterback position, is all about the further development of Winston, who had a very impressive rookie season. The first-overall pick in the 2015 draft became just the third rookie to pass for over 4,000 yards and, after some early turnover issues, ended up with a respectable TD/INT ratio. The Bucs' offense ranked fifth in the NFL in net yards but just 20th in points scored, and the team will be looking for more efficient red zone work from Winston in 2016, as well as better fortune on deep passes. In addition, that 58.3% completion percentage put the Bucs 29th in the NFL in that category and is not adequate in an era in which the league-wide rate is 63.0%.
Assuming no move is made with Glennon, which seems like a strong assumption at this point, there isn't much to watch this summer in terms of a position battle. Winston is the obvious starter and Glennon the clear #2. LeFevour could potentially push Griffin for the #3 spot, or make a case for inclusion on the practice squad, but Griffin is coming off a strong mini-camp performance and is obviously well-regarded by the coaching staff.
- Returning Players (3): Mike James, Doug Martin, Charles Sims
- 2016 Additions (3): Peyton Barber (UDFA), Russell Hansbrough (UDFA), Storm Johnson (FA)
- Projected Starter(s): Martin
- Potential Total Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2016: 3-4
- Number Taken to Training Camp in 2015*: 7 (James, Martin, Sims, Dominique Brown, Joey Iosefa, Jorvorskie Lane, Bobby Rainey)
- Number Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2015^: 5 (James, Lane, Martin, Rainey, Sims)
- Key Team & Individual Statistics from 2015: 135.1 rushing yards per game; 4.8 yards per carry; 12 rushing touchdowns; 2,763 yards from scrimmage combined by Martin and Sims
As with the quarterback position, the top of the depth chart at running back remains largely unchanged. Martin and Sims, the only pair of running backs to each crack 1,000 yards from scrimmage in the NFL last year, will remain the primary 1-2 punch. The third tailback that was active on game days last fall, Rainey, has departed but James has filled that role before and is back for a potential fourth season in Tampa.
Pictures of Martin at the Buccaneers' mini-camp and OTAS.
However, James will get competition for that job from Johnson, a former Jacksonville Jaguar with a little bit of regular-season experience in 2014, and the two undrafted rookies, Barber and Hansbrough. Johnson and Barber are both bigger runners while Hansbrough projects more as a smaller, third-down type of back. Barring injuries, the winner of the third spot on the depth chart will likely make more of an impact on special teams than on offense; Rainey had just five carries in that role last year.
However, the Buccaneers could keep four tailbacks, particularly since their isn't a player listed as a traditional fullback on the entire roster. The Buccaneers have labeled such potential lead-blocker types as Dan Vitale and Alan Cross as tight ends.
The Bucs couldn't have asked for much more from this position in 2015. Martin ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards and both he and Sims were among the top seven in yards per carry (minimum 100 attempts). They were also productive in the passing game, combining for 84 catches, and are likely to see that role expanded in a second year in Dirk Koetter's offense. Sims, in particular, is considered a gifted pass-catcher, and his 11.0 yards per reception and four receiving TDs are excellent numbers for a running back.
The only area where the team might be seeking improvement from this group is in finding the end zone. Tampa Bay's 12 rushing touchdowns ranked 15th in the NFL last year, but that's misleading as six of those were recorded on scrambles by Winston.
- Returning Players (9): Kenny Bell (IR), Andre Davis (PS), Donteea Dye, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Vincent Jackson (IR), Louis Murphy (IR), Russell Shepard, Evan Spencer
- 2016 Additions (2): Freddie Martino (FA), Bernard Reedy (FA)
- Projected Starter(s): Evans, Jackson
- Potential Total Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2016: 5-7
- Number Taken to Training Camp in 2015*: 11 (Bell, Dye, Evans, Humphries, Jackson, Murphy, Shepard, Kaelin Clay, Rannell Hall, Robert Herron, Tavarres King)
- Number Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2015^: 5 (Evans, Humphries, Jackson, Murphy, Shepard)
- Key Team & Individual Statistics from 2015: 4,042 receiving yards, 13.0 yards per reception, 22 touchdown catches; 74 catches for 1,206 yards and three touchdowns for Evans
There are surprisingly few new additions to the receiving corps the Bucs will take into training camp this year. The team did not draft a wideout this year, and the only rookie free agent it signed (Dez Stewart) was released a few weeks later. The Bucs did pick up a pair of players with former Falcons ties in Reedy, signed in February, and Martino, added in May, but the other nine receivers currently on the roster were all either on the 53-man roster, the practice squad or injured reserve at the end of last year.
Pictures of Mike Evans at the Bucs' voluntary mini-camp and OTAs.
That means most of the group comes into this year's camp with a good grasp on Koetter's offense, which sets up a healthy competition for the spots behind certain starters Evans and Jackson. In fact, how the depth chart sets up at receiver from spots three through five, six or seven will be one of the most interesting developments of this year's camp.
The Buccaneers started the season with just five receivers on their 53-man crew last year and mostly stuck to that number throughout, though seven different wideouts saw action as the team adjusted to injuries to Murphy and Jackson. That does not include Bell, a promising fifth-round pick in 2015 who spent the whole season on injured reserve after suffering a hamstring injury in the preseason. That said, it is not unusual for the Buccaneers to carry six or even seven receivers, particularly if one or more of them are big contributors to special teams. That's the case with Shepard, who has stuck on the roster for three seasons largely due to his outstanding production in the third phase of the game.
If one considers the slot receiver job a third starting position, then there is one front-line spot to be decided in camp and the preseason. Humphries and Reedy are specifically slot-receiver types, smaller players with good lateral quickness who can work the middle of the field. Bell might also flourish in the slot though he's a potential deep threat on the outside who turned in a strong mini-camp performance last week. Murphy is an established veteran who has produced in several different roles for the Buccaneers when given the opportunity.
As effective as the Buccaneers' offense was overall in 2015 under the guidance of the rookie Winston, it could have gotten more out of the receiver position. Evans upped his yardage total after a strong rookie season but saw his touchdowns drop from 12 to three, and he failed to make a deep connection with his young passer. Jackson had his string of four straight 1,000-yard seasons snapped by a pair of fluky knee injuries. Murphy went down near midseason with a torn ACL and thus couldn't make up for Jackson's absences. Instead, that fell to Humphries and Dye, a pair of undrafted free agents who ended up with a lot more playing time than expected and impressed at times. Bell, as mentioned, was unavailable. If all of those players remain healthy, Winston should have a lot more weapons in his arsenal this year.
- Returning Players (5): Cameron Brate, Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker, Tevin Westbrook
- 2016 Additions (2): Kivon Cartwright (UDFA), Alan Cross (UDFA), Danny Vitale (D6)
- Projected Starter(s): Seferian-Jenkins, Stocker, Vitale
- Potential Total Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2016: 4-5
- Number Taken to Training Camp in 2015*: 6 (Brate, Myers, Seferian-Jenkins, Stocker, Evan Rodriguez, Tim Wright)
- Number Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2015^: 3 (Myers, Seferian-Jenkins, Stocker)
- Key Team & Individual Statistics from 2015: 23 catches for 288 yards and three touchdowns for Brate; 21-338-4 for Seferian-Jenkins but nine missed games; 14 starts for Stocker
The Buccaneers started the season with just three tight ends but had five on the 53-man roster by the time the last game was played. There were two reasons for this. One, with Seferian-Jenkins hurt but not on injured reserve for a good portion of the season, the Bucs promoted Brate and leaned on him in the passing game. Two, Westbrook, an undrafted rookie out of the University of Florida, got a promotion for the final week of the season though he did not play in that last game.
Normally, the typical number of tight ends on the roster is three, but that occasionally balloons to floor if the team has a couple of players at the position with specific and differing skill sets. Stocker, for instance, played extensively in 2015 despite recording only nine receptions because he was easily the best blocker at his position. Brate, on the other hand, is a less-accomplished blocker but a good pass-catcher who helped make up for the absence of Seferian-Jenkins. Myers is a well-rounded veteran who can do it all.
A look at the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers are taking one more tight end to camp than a year ago and are likely to keep one or two more during the regular season, but that's mostly a matter of definition. Sixth-round pick Vitale and undrafted rookie Cross were both labeled as fullbacks heading into the draft but Koetter and his staff have lumped them in with the tight ends. The team does not have a player listed at fullback on the roster, so it may actually publish a depth chart that has two TE slots and no FB slot. If that proves to be the case, you might see three tight ends listed at the more traditional spot and then another one or two at the other one.
If Seferian-Jenkins is blessed with better health fortune this year than in his first two, the competition here could be very interesting in camp. The former second-round pick has the most obvious star potential of the group as a complete blocker/receiver type, but Brate's skills are a little too intriguing to ignore. Stocker is likely to hold onto a spot thanks to his very valuable blocking abilities and his knowledge of the offense. Vitale could prove to be an important part of the offense, too, if he can handle a versatile role that would move him around from the backfield to the line and occasionally out to the slot.
Brate's emergence kept the tight end position from becoming a void in the offense while Seferian-Jenkins was down. Still, that group combined for 65 catches, 814 yards and eight touchdowns – not terrible but the Bucs believe they can get more out of that group, especially with Vitale's potential production lumped in. A healthy Seferian-Jenkins would likely be a big boost to the red zone offense, as well.
- Returning Players (9): Josh Allen (PS), Gosder Cherilus, Demar Dotson, Ben Gottschalk (PS), Joe Hawley, Ali Marpet, Kevin Pamphile, Donovan Smith, Evan Smith
- 2016 Additions (6): Caleb Benenoch (D5), Taylor Fallin (UDFA), Kelby Johnson (UDFA), Dominique Robertson (UDFA), J.R. Sweezy (UFA-SEA), Leonard Wester (UDFA)
- Projected Starter(s): D. Smith, Sweezy, Hawley, Marpet, Dotson
- Potential Total Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2016: 8-9
- Number Taken to Training Camp in 2015*: 15 (Allen, Dotson, Marpet, Pamphile, D. Smith, E. Smith, Edawn Coughman, Kadeem Edwards, Antoine Everett, Reid Fragel, Garrett Gilkey, Logan Mankins, Matthew Masifilo, Patrick Omameh, Jeremiah Warren)
- Number Kept on 53-Man Roster in 2015^: 9 (Cherilus, Mankins, Marpet, Masifilo, Pamphile, D. Smith, E. Smith, Warren, Eric Kush)
- Key Team & Individual Statistics from 2015: 27 sacks allowed, 4.8 yards per carry, 29 combined starts by then-rookies Marpet and D. Smith
The Buccaneers are going to camp with the exact same number of offensive linemen as last year, which makes sense, as a crew of 15 allows for three full lines when all are healthy. While the team hit on a pretty effective core of eight players last year, the rest of that group is largely new and made up of third-day draft picks and undrafted rookies.
That eight-man corps saw one significant switch in the offseason, as Pro Bowl guard Mankins retired but Sweezy came over from the Seahawks in one of the team's most important acquisitions in undrafted free agency. Sweezy is expected to step in at left guard for Mankins, though all of the interior line spots will get competition from former starting center E. Smith and the very versatile Pamphile.
Take a look at the best photos from the Buccaneers' 2016 offseason.
The Bucs headed into their opener last year with nine linemen, which is usually the upper limits of that group, but there were some pretty quick changes to the group. Kush, grabbed as a waiver claim during final-cut weekend, lasted just one week in town before Hawley took his spot on the roster, and converted defensive tackle Matthew Masifilo was on the roster for only a month. That was in addition to the August change at right tackle when Dotson went down with a knee injury and the team hurriedly signed Cherilus, the proven veteran.
Cherilus started 13 of the first 14 games, initially keeping the job even after Dotson returned from short-term injured reserve. However, Dotson got back on the field for the last two games and in March Koetter announced that he would head into 2016 as the front-line right tackle, where he had played quite well in 2013 and 2014.
Hawley, who had played in Koetter's offense in Atlanta, stepped in at center in Week Three when Evan Smith was injured, and he took kept his job upon Smith's return. Smith later helped the team weather a three-game absence by Marpet, filling in at right guard. Hawley and Smith were said to be in a battle for the center job in 2016, though the team is also making an effort to look at a number of other players at the pivot, including Marpet and Pamphile.
Meanwhile, Donovan Smith and Marpet, the two second-round picks from 2015, will be back in their left tackle and right guard spots, respectively, and the Buccaneers expect further development from them after strong debut campaigns. The play of those two rookies was a big part of the team's unexpectedly good play on the offensive line in 2015. Tampa Bay ranked second in the NFL in yards per carry, fifth in rushing yards per game and tied for fourth in sacks allowed, three of the team stats commonly used to judge the performance of an O-Line.
With Cherilus, Pamphile and either Evan Smith or Hawley as reserves, the Buccaneers are also much deeper in experienced and proven linemen than usual. That, of course, makes it a tougher task for this year's rookies to crack the 53-man roster, though the Bucs are high on Benenoch, who is likely to move from his college position of tackle into the interior line. The team could expand its O-Line ranks a bit if there are too many talented players for eight or nine spots; in addition, the young players could earn practice squad spots with impressive August performances. At least two of the team's 10 spots on that unit are usually filled by offensive linemen.
D[#] – 2016 draft pick, number indicates round
FA – free agent
UFA-[Team] – unrestricted free agent, team indicates player's previous team
UDFA – undrafted free agent
PS – Practice squad
IR – Injured reserve
* Based on the roster on the opening day of training camp.
^Based on the roster taken into the opening game of the season, after any additional moves were made following the final league-wide cuts.