Rookie CB Elbert Mack, an undrafted free agent, has reason to be pleased after Saturday's roster cuts passed him by
Ryan Nece's career as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer ended — at least for now — on Saturday. Elbert Mack's has just begun.
Four months ago, shortly after the Buccaneers spiked their offseason roster to 80 men through the draft and subsequent rookie free agent signings, that pair of events would not have been obvious.
But Mack, an undrafted free agent out of Troy, exceeded expectations in Tampa Bay's defensive scheme and Nece lost his spot amid the collective rise of such young linebackers as Quincy Black, Adam Hayward, Geno Hayes and Matt McCoy.
All of this became official on Saturday when the Buccaneers, along with the other 31 teams in the NFL, trimmed their roster from 75 players to 53. Scroll down to see the entire list of Saturday's moves.
The moves included the release of three vested veterans — Nece, quarterback Chris Simms and defensive end Patrick Chukwurah — as well as the usual roll call of talented but inexperienced players who will now look for their next opportunity in the league.
Obviously, the release of Simms carried little shock, as it had been rumored for some time. A third-round draft pick in 2003, Simms was the Bucs' starting quarterback for most of 2005 and the first three games of 2006 before he suffered a spleen injury against Carolina in that third '06 contest and had to have an emergency splenectomy. He spent most of the next two seasons on injured reserve.
Perhaps the most unexpected cut was that of rookie defensive tackle Dre Moore, the Bucs' fourth-round this year out of Maryland. The surprise is not a reflection of Moore's play in the preseason — he had a total of three tackles and two passes defensed in four games — but simply relates to his draft status. The last fourth-round pick not to be on the Bucs' 53-man roster for the first game of the regular season was tackle Lance Nimmo in 2003.
One of the 22 roster openings was created by the placement of tight end Jerramy Stevens on the Reserve/Suspended list. Stevens will serve a commissioner's suspension for the first two games of the season and will not count against the 53-man roster during that time. Once the suspension is served, the Buccaneers will have to decide whether or not to clear a spot on the 53-man roster to keep Stevens.
Also, wide receiver Cortez Hankton was placed on injured reserve due to a groin injury. In a bit of extra news that did not affect the efforts to get to 53 on Saturday, the Bucs also released cornerback Sammy Davis from injured reserve with a settlement.
Here are the 22 moves the Buccaneers made on Saturday to get to 53:
Termination of Vested Veterans
- DE Patrick Chukwurah * LB Ryan Nece * QB Chris SimmsWaived * DE Charles Bennett * G Phil Bogle * DT Chris Bradwell * WR Brian Clark * T Chris Clark * RB Kenneth Darby * T Chris Denman * TE Daniel Fells * CB Marcus Hamilton * CB Darrell Hunter * G Brian Johnson * WR Chad Lucas * DT Dre Moore * T Dennis Roland * RB Clifton Smith * WR Micheal Spurlock * FB Carl StewartInjured Reserve * WR Cortez HanktonReserve/Suspended * TE Jerramy Stevens For some, that next NFL opportunity could occur in Tampa, as the Bucs will form an eight-man practice squad in the next few days. It's a good bet that several of the young players on the list above will return via that avenue.
As usual, the more interesting products of the final cuts were not who left the building but who is still there. There are many conclusions that can be drawn from the 53-man roster the Buccaneers put together on Saturday. Among them: