Among other things, one of the steps taken in this unique 2020 NFL season could be the adoption of a reduced 80-man training camp roster. This is something expected to happen according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, and something the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are certainly preparing for.
Updates from NFLPA call with players tonight:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 21, 2020
- No preseason games in 2020
- Union still pushing for longer ramp-up period in camp
- Roster sizes expected to be 80 to start camp
- General agreement on voluntary and high-risk opt-out
- General agreement on stipend if games lost
In light of this, and the likelihood it’ll actually happen, I’ve decided to take a crack at figuring out where the Bucs might trim from their currently reported 87-man roster. Which seven players could see their 2020 experience cut short? Let’s dive in.
Defensive Back, M.J. Stewart
Until I see otherwise, I’m going to be firmly on the train of thought that M.J. Stewart just isn’t long for this team. The Buccaneers didn’t spend a single draft pick on the cornerback position. They also didn’t sign any significant free-agents at the position.
Parnell Motley from Oklahoma was the only undrafted free-agent added to the unit, and outside of Herb Miller, you basically know all the other names. So why cut Stewart lose before camp? Better question is: Why keep a guy who already convinced the team to make him a healthy scratch late in 2019 over keeping young guys who have yet to prove anything?
Inside Linebacker, Kendell Beckwith
There are more ways than flat out releasing a guy to get him off your accountable roster, and with the case of Beckwith no news is terrible news. We’re all basically to the point now where we assume this promising young linebacker’s time in the NFL is all but done. It’s a sad truth, but the truth nonetheless.
If there’s still hope for him to make a return to the playing field then I’m all for the Bucs keeping him in the organization. He seems like a prime candidate to be a roster transaction preventing him from counting against the 80-man training camp roster though. I mean, he doesn’t even have a number assigned to him.
Safety, Justin Evans or Javon Hagan
Justin Evans is in the same category for me as Kendell Beckwith. I’ll believe he’s coming back when he’s on the field taking reps. The situation doesn’t seem as dire with Evans as it does with Beckwith though.
If the Buccaneers believe Evans could actually make his return this season, then Javon Hagan - undrafted rookie out of Ohio - is likely to be let loose. If Evans gets deactivated by the team however, Hagan may survive long enough to get some work in with Tampa Bay.
Outside Linebacker, Cam Gill or Nasir Player
Two more undrafted guys in Cam Gill and Nasir Player. Gill landed with the Bucs out of Wagner and Player came out of East Tennessee State. They aren’t the only undrafted outside linebackers on the roster, as Michael Divinity Jr. was also a post-draft pick-up for Tampa Bay out of LSU.
Divinity’s SEC pedigree gives him the edge for me, leaving either Gill or Player on the outside, looking in.
Wide Receiver, John Hurst
Entering training camp the Buccaneers’ wide receiver room is stacked. Each guy presents something the team can certainly use. When I go through the list however, one guy moves the needle a little less than all the others, and it’s John Hurst. The undrafted free-agent from West Georgia absolutely deserves a chance to make an NFL squad, but this may not be the year for him to get that chance with this roster.
Other undrafted free-agents like Travis Jonsen and Josh Pearson seem more likely to survive this initial trim, given their individual attributes and small school performances.
Offensive Lineman, Nick Leverett or John Molchon
Two more undrafted free-agents here with Leverett coming out of Rice and Molchon hitting Tampa by way of Boise State. I’m not going to pretend to be an offensive line expert enough to know which way the Bucs would lean here, but with six guards and three centers on the roster, it’s hard not to think one of these two will be on the way out.
Defensive Lineman, Benning Potoa’e
It’s no surprise undrafted free-agents will be landing on this list. As much as they look forward to proving themselves in training camp and preseasons, they are the ones missing out the most in this corona-altered 2020 version.
Tampa Bay has seven players currently listed as defensive linemen on their roster, and rookie Khalil Davis noted as a defensive tackle. There’s room to cut one here if need be, and the last hired being the first fired makes a lot of sense.
Your favorite part and mine, now is your chance to pick apart my projections and tell me where I’m wrong!
Too soon to give up on Stewart? Evans is absolutely coming back? Maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be crazy to carry four quarterbacks and all these running backs into camp?
No matter the opinion, drop it in the comments below!