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Breaking down the Buccaneers’ initial 53-man roster

The Bucs have a 53-man roster, though that will go through some more changes today.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut down to a 53-man roster yesterday. We can start breaking that down now, though it’s good to note that a few things will change about this roster in the next couple of hours.

For one, the Bucs are signing safety T.J. Ward today, which will necessitate cutting someone, somewhere. They’re also reportedly activating defensive end Jacquies Smith off PUP, which will necessitate another move. And, thirdly, they’ll need to sign a longsnapper—likely to be Garrison Sanborn, who they waived yesterday to create some extra temporary room on the roster.

One move that’ll create some room: placing backup quarterback Ryan Griffin on injured reserve. They couldn’t do that before today without letting him go through waivers, which is why they carried him through their initial round of cuts. That leaves two more roster spots that’ll have to be created—linebacker Cameron Lynch and defensive end Ryan Russell seem like likely casualties.

Finally, look for the Bucs to pick up a few more players off the waiver wire. They could use some more potential at defensive end, for instance.

I’ve reflected the signings in the listings below, though not in the numbers—which you’ll see as you go through.


Quarterback (3)

Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin

No surprises here. There’s a good chance Ryan Griffin would have bumped off Fitzpatrick, but he’ll head to injured reserve later today—for administrative reasons, that move had to wait until after final cuts.

Running back (3)

Doug Martin (suspended), Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber

One surprise here: fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols couldn’t hack it. Martin’s suspended for the first three games, but will almost certainly be the main starter as soon as he’s back.

Wide receiver (5)

Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, Bernard Reedy

The Bucs went with speedster Bernard Reedy over experienced but inconsistent Josh Huff.

Tight end (5)

O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Luke Stocker, Antony Auclair, Alan Cross (fullback)

The Bucs are going to be very tight end-heavy this year, if all of these guys stay healthy. Howard will be the in-line tight end who can also be lined up elsewhere to create mismatches, while Brate is more focused as a slot tight end. Stocker’s a pure blocker who is likely to be phased out quickly, while Auclair is developmental. Plus the obligatory fullback in Cross—Koetter always wants one, and never gives them much playing time.

Offensive tackle (4)

Demar Dotson, Donovan Smith, Caleb Benenoch, Leonard Wester

Wester’s the surprise here, but a promising preseason at right tackle got him a roster spot.

Center/guard (6)

Ali Marpet, J.R. Sweezy, Kevin Pamphile, Joe Hawley, Evan Smith

Easy as pie: three starters and two versatile, veteran backups.


Defensive tackle (4)

Gerald McCoy, Chris Baker, Clinton McDonald, Sealver Siliga

Stevie Tu’ikolovatu and DaVonte Lambert should have made this list, but they went to injured reserve.

Defensive end (5)

Robert Ayers, Noah Spence, Jacquies Smith (on PUP), William Gholston, Channing Ward, Ryan Russell

It’s not entirely clear how quickly Smith will be able to play, but the Bucs will reportedly activate him from PUP today. Ryan Russell’s a little surprising, at least, and could be the first cut as soon as some kind of roster move needs to be made.

Linebacker (6)

Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, Kendell Beckwith, Devante Bond, Adarius Glanton, Cameron Lynch

Somewhat surprising: Riley Bullough not making it. That Hard Knocks hype wasn’t enough to get him on the roster. Lynch might be a casualty soon, as the Bucs have a tendency to keep just five linebackers on the roster.

Cornerback (6)

Brent Grimes, Vernon Hargreaves, Robert McClain, Josh Robinson, Ryan Smith, Javien Elliott

That’s a lot of cornerbacks, but it’s hard to leave any one of them off—and at least now there’s one backup for each starter.

Safety (4)

Chris Conte, Keith Tandy, J.J. Wilcox, Justin Evans, T.J. Ward (to be signed)

The Bucs started with four safeties, but they’re signing T.J. Ward today so that’ll be five pretty soon—unless they’re cutting one of the existing safeties to make room for him, of course.

Special teams (2)

Nick Folk (kicker), Bryan Anger (punter)

No longsnapper, but that’ll be solved later today when the Bucs put Ryan Griffin on injured reserve and presumably re-sign Garrison Sanborn (or maybe Andrew DePaola).