The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely to look like a different team this year, if it's up to Lovie Smith. Not only in terms of wins, losses and a lack of embarrassing off-field incidents, but also in terms of the roster.
Smith: We’re going to change the culture and we’ll probably change more players than you probably think right now.''— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) February 20, 2014
Stroud added that he wouldn't be surprised if 50% of the roster was turned over, compared to last season. That sounds like a lot -- but it really isn't. A quick count suggests the Buccaneers currently have around 40 players under contract who were on last season's regular season roster, and a few of those never played in an actual game.
A few of those players will be phased out automatically, and a few may turn into salary cap cuts. The loss of players like Keith Tandy, Kelcie McCray, Ka'lial Glaud and Skye Dawson would be neither surprising nor something to mourn, and yet they'd count towards that 50% roster turnover.
In reality, the Bucs are likely to return almost all of their starters. Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Luke Stocker, the rotating cast of backup left guards and Davin Joseph will likely be replaced, unless Joseph goes through some miracle resurgence an extra year removed from knee surgery. In addition, Adrian Clayborn and Akeem Spence could be relegated to backup duties, while Tiquan Underwood and Leonard Johnson may be bumped down the roster by some added depth at their positions. Finally, Mike Glennon's future remains in doubt, and Donald Penn might be replaced, provided they can find a cheaper starter, which won't be easy outside of the draft.
But that wouldn't represent a massive turnover, focusing mostly on the team's depth. And really, that's to be expected whenever a new regime comes in. Greg Schiano's 2012 opening day roster featured new starters at running back, tight end, wide receiver, offensive guard, safety, linebacker and cornerback. The 53-man roster featured 16 new players. That's not quite 50%, but it's a hefty turnover.
I would expect something similar this year. The Bucs will try to find starters in the draft and free agency, but the main turnover will be visible in the depth and the role players on the team. The Buccaneers have plenty of talent on their starting 22 players, the real questions come up when you go further down the roster. That's where they'll have to shore up the talent base.