This is always the most bittersweet part of the preseason.
Final roster cuts represent the end of the preseason, which means the long wait for football is officially over. At the same time, it’s sad to watch guys who have gone through the daily grind get waived in favor of others who have simply been better.
Nonetheless, it’s part of the business. The Bucs will have some choices to make. Even Bruce Arians said that there are 10 spots open on the active roster, which is a ton of room. It’s usually considered a lot of room when a team has just four or five open spots.
Who will the Bucs keep on offense this year? There are some difficult decisions to make at certain spots, but overall, I’d say the picture is pretty clear.
Quarterback (3): Jameis Winston, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin
It makes more sense for the Bucs to roll with three quarterbacks after Gabbert’s injury against the Browns. It doesn’t seem like it will be a long-term deal, but Tampa Bay obviously needs some type of insurance if Gabbert can’t go.
Griffin played well enough in the preseason and Arians seems very confident in his abilities.
Running Back (4): Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, Dare Ogunbowale, Andre Ellington
There wasn’t much debate surrounding Barber and Jones entering camp. Both players showed that they are more than capable of forming a 1-2 punch in the backfield.
The Bucs would be remised to let go of Ogunbowale, who’s had a great training camp and preseason. Something tells me that Arians will keep Ellington in spite of his struggles due to his knowledge of the offense and the fact that he’s a vet.
Wide Receiver (5): Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Breshad Perriman, Justin Watson, Scotty Miller
In my opinion, this is where carrying a third quarterback bites the Bucs. They’ll carry five receivers and even though Watson hasn’t had the best preseason, he still has the physical traits to be a good receiver in the NFL. He’s likely a lock to make the team.
It will be interesting to see what goes on behind him, though. If the Bucs decide to carry six receivers, then it’s pretty clear that both Bobo Wilson and Miller will make the team.
But in this scenario Tampa Bay takes Miller for the fifth receiver spot due to his upside.
Tight End (3): O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair
This is a tough one, but this time it’s because of injuries at the position.
Brate didn’t play against the Browns and Auclair was hurt on Friday night, leaving the Bucs thin at the position. Even though Arians has stated that both players will be ready for next week, you need bodies in case there is a setback.
There is a chance Tampa Bay could keep its preseason darling Tanner Hudson in case he is needed for Week 1 and then let him go if both Brate and Auclair are good to go. It sounds brutal, but that’s just how it works in the NFL.
Offensive Line (9): Demar Dotson, Alex Cappa, Ryan Jensen, Ali Marpet, Donovan Smith, Earl Watford, Caleb Benenoch, Josh LeRibeus, Zack Bailey
Even though this unit will be a question mark on opening day, it really wasn’t that hard to project the players who will make the active roster.
Both Watford and Benenoch have starting experience in the league and are versatile players. LeRibeus and Bailey can play multiple positions, as well. Bailey had a pretty good camp/preseason, so the Bucs will likely hold on to him in order to keep him from getting poached by another team.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bucs carry 10 players here, especially with the depth concerns, but I think they roll with nine.