The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are done playing preseason games in 2016, which means they’re on to roster cuts. The Bucs have to whittle down a group of 75 players to a 53-man roster by Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET. 22 cuts, and perhaps a few more if they pick up any new players in the mean time.
The Bucs’ main decisions have long since been made, and last night’s game was more of a reveal party in those cases. For instance: Johnthan Banks was a starter, over Josh Robinson. Cliff Matthews started at defensive tackle, which means he likely will be the team’s fourth defensive tackle. In addition, Josh Keyes was one of the starting linebackers — which tells us something about his chances of a roster spot.
The main decisions the Bucs have to make will center around who to keep at the bottom of the roster. Do they want to retain Bernard Reedy as a return specialist, or use Adam Humphries for that position? Will they keep a ninth or even tenth offensive lineman, or an extra defensive back? Is Peyton Barber really necessary as a fourth running back?
Those decisions are all close, and some of them will be reversed throughout the season. In fact, some of them will become irrelevant just days after they’re made, as the Bucs will inevitably pick up some players off the waiver wire. So while this roster prediction is for the initial 53-man roster, that roster will continue to change over the next months.
Keep in mind that J.R. Sweezy and Louis Murphy have been placed on PUP, which means they’ll be eligible to return to the 53-man roster by week seven.
Buccaneers 53-man roster prediction
Quarterbacks (3): Jameis Winston, Mike Glennon, Ryan Griffin
Running backs (4): Doug Martin, Charles Sims, Mike James, Peyton Barber
Wide receivers (5): Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Russell Shepard, Evan Spencer, Bernard Reedy (Louis Murphy on PUP)
Offensive linemen (9): Donovan Smith, Kevin Pamphile, Joe Hawley, Ali Marpet, Demar Dotson, Evan Smith, Gosder Cherilus, Caleb Benenoch, Leonard Wester (J.R. Sweezy on PUP)
Tight ends/fullbacks (4): Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Dan Vitale, Luke Stocker
Defensive ends (6): Noah Spence, Robert Ayers, William Gholston, Jacquies Smith, Howard Jones, Kourtnei Brown
Defensive tackles (4): Gerald McCoy, Clinton McDonald, Akeem Spence, Cliff Matthews
Linebackers (6): Kwon Alexander, Lavonte David, Daryl Smith, Luke Rhodes, Devante Bond, Josh Keyes
Cornerbacks (5): Brent Grimes, Alterraun Verner, Vernon Hargreaves, Jude Adjei-Barimah, Johnthan Banks
Safety (4): Bradley McDougald, Chris Conte, Ryan Smith, Keith Tandy
Special teams (3)
Roberto Aguayo, Bryan Anger, Andrew DePaola