We’re going through the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster position by position to see if the team improved compared to last year. Today: special teams.
2015 roster: K Connor Barth, LS Andrew DePaola, P Jacob Schum, K Kyle Brindza
2016 roster: K Roberto Aguayo, LS Andrew DePaola, P Bryan Anger, P Jacob Schum
Last year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a disastrous year of special teams. Jacob Schum was brought in to replace the overly expensive and increasingly mediocre Michael Koenen, but he was a bottom-of-the-league punter himself. His struggles were nothing compared to the team’s kickers, though. Kyle Brindza won a three-way training camp competition, and proceeded to play a huge role in the team’s first four losses by missing half of his kicks. Connor Barth was re-signed and did reasonably well, even kind of holding his own on kickoffs, but he seemed slightly less accurate than he was in his first stint with the team.
Jason Licht wasn’t happy with that, so he attacked the project of improving this group with gusto. He signed Bryan Anger, who has a massive leg and was originally a third-round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the four years since then he hasn’t turned into the Pro Bowl punter the Jaguars hoped they were drafting, but he certainly was better than league average, and should represent a big improvement over Schum — assuming he wins out in training camp, of course.
But the biggest move this offseason was trading up into the second round to draft Roberto Aguayo. The FSU kicker is very, very good — but a second-round pick is a lot to give up for a kicker, even one that can supposedly execute high-hangtime, high kickoffs that land just short of the goal-line. How valuable that is remains to be seen.
I should say something about the team’s coverage and blocking units here, but that’s nearly impossible to evaluate without seeing them in action. Suffice to say that there’s no real reason to believe there will be a significant difference compared to last year.
While Aguayo’s value can certainly be debated, there’s no real question that he’s better than Connor Barth. And the same is true for Anger and Schum. Overall, the Bucs are clearly much better on special teams than they were last year.