The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford from his contract, the team has announced. Tedford has been absent since week five, never having resumed full coordinator duties after undergoing heart surgery during the preseason.
This comes as no surprise, as multiple outlets have earlier reported that Tedford would not return to the Bucs. Pewter Report had noted that the Bucs felt abandoned after the offensive coordinator couldn't resume his full duties after preseason heart surgery, and that he would not return. Earlier today, Ian Rapoport reported that Tedford would not return in 2015.
"Throughout these difficult circumstances, our primary concern was for Jeff's health and well-being," said Lovie Smith. "After speaking with Jeff in recent days, it became obvious that a mutual decision to release him from his contract was the best way forward. We wish Jeff continued success in the next phase of his career."
Jeff Tedford also released a statement, expressing his regret at not being able to resume his duties and his gratitude to the Bucs and Bucs fans.
"My wife and I want to thank the entire Buccaneers organization - from the Glazer family, to Head Coach Lovie Smith and General Manager Jason Licht - for all the faith and confidence they expressed in me. I will always be grateful to them for the opportunity to participate in the off season program, the draft, free agency, training camp, the preseason and the beginning of the regular season. I have built friendships here with administration, coaches and players that will last a lifetime.
"When my health issues arose, I simply tried to ignore them and then I made the mistake of twice trying to come back too early. At that point, the organization proposed, and I agreed, that an indefinite leave of absence would allow me the proper amount of time to rest and rehabilitate myself. I am happy to state that I'm healthy now and feeling great.
"The Buccaneers have been very accommodating to me and my family during this time and, while they left the door open for a possible return, I feel that coming back at this point would disrupt the trust and continuity that builds throughout the season in offensive meeting rooms and on the sidelines. Quarterbacks Coach Marcus Arroyo, along with the rest of the offensive staff, had to step up and shoulder the load and they have done a great job under very difficult circumstances. I simply could not, in good conscience, become more of an obstacle to Lovie, to Marcus, the offensive staff and the whole organization - after all they have done for me. You just can't go backwards. I can see that they are so close to turning the corner and I don't want to hinder that progress.
"Therefore, I have decided - with the organization's blessing - that it would be best if the Bucs moved forward without my return and I, now healthy and stronger for having gone through this temporary setback, will pursue other opportunities.
I would also like to express my deep gratitude to all of the Bucs fans who expressed their support, best wishes, and prayers for me during this season. I wish the entire Bucs organization and fan base great success and there will always be a very special place in my heart for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "
This means the Bucs have to find a new offensive coordinator this offseason, possibly overhauling the offensive coaching staff as a whole, and perhaps even the offensive roster -- again. The Bucs tried to rebuild their offense this year, but blowing up the offensive line backfired spectacularly, while Josh McCown and Mike Glennon have not been able to function within their current situation -- and have probably proven themselves not to be capable starters.
The absence of Tedford forced the Bucs to turn to Marcus Arroyo as their de facto offensive coordinator. Arroyo was initially pegged to be the team's quarterbacks coach, and had no previous NFL experience and only one year of experience as an offensive coordinator at Southern Miss. Predictably, that did not produce positive results.