We are in the final week of the offseason. With cuts coming up on Saturday, a lot of attention is currently on the back end of the Bucs’ roster. The majority of the final 53-man roster has been figured out, but there’s still some work to do in figuring out those remaining spots.
Bruce Arians discussed this exact topic with reporters on Monday after practice.
“Probably six or eight spots,” is what Arians said when asked about how many spots are open for competition. “They missed 400 reps, so we’re still going in pads like it was the first week of training camp because of that missed time and guys have missed all those reps. There’s still guys fighting [for] spots every single day.”
That’s actually quite a few spots left open. So who are the candidates to fill out the final 53-man roster?
Let’s dive in and speculate!
Who are the starters and backups tabbed to make the team?
Quarterback: Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin (3)
There’s a chance Griffin goes. He has a cap hit of $1.645 million, while Gabbert is around $887k. It doesn’t make much sense for the third-string quarterback to make more than the second-string quarterback, but hey, it’s 2020. But despite the weird contract situation, Griffin makes the roster.
Running Back: Ronald Jones II, Dare Ogunbowale, LeSean McCoy, Ke’Shawn Vaughn (4)
Vaughn will likely be a healthy scratch most game days while Raymond Calais makes the practice squad. But would the Bucs think about carrying five backs?
Wide Receiver: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Justin Watson, Scotty Miller (4)
The fifth receiver spot is certainly one of the open spots on this team. The Bucs also carried six receivers into 2019, so there could be two more additions.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Antony Auclair (4)
The tight end position is locked and loaded. It’s sewn up, as well.
Offensive line: Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Tristan Wirfs, Joe Haeg, A.Q. Shipley (7)
Per new NFL rules, teams have to carry at least eight offensive linemen if they want to enjoy the luxury of 48 active players on game day. Haeg is a lock as the top backup and the addition of Shipley will stick. So, you can bet on some competition for the final spot or spots.
Defensive line: Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Khalil Davis (5)
Nacho was recently crowned as the most improved player in camp by Todd Bowles and Davis has shown enough in camp so their spots are safe. The Bucs carried six defensive linemen into 2019, so you’d think a roster spot is open on this side of the trenches, as well.
Inside linebacker: Devin White, Lavonte David, Kevin Minter, Jack Cichy, Chapelle Russell (5)
There’s certainly room for disagreement here, but I think the inside ‘backers are good to go.
Outside linebacker: Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, Anthony Nelson (3)
The depth here is scary, which means there are spots open. You’d think the Bucs will add at least two more guys on the edge.
Cornerback: Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Ryan Smith (4)
We know the starting trio are good to go. Smith makes the squad due to his special teams prowess. But who gets the fifth spot?
Safety: Jordan Whitehead, Andrew Adams, Mike Edwards, Antoine Winfield Jr. (4)
This is another position that is good to go. It’d be a bit surprising to see the Bucs go with five safeties.
Special Teams: Bradley Pinion, Zach Triner (2)
The recent addition of Ryan Succop puts Matt Gay’s job up for grabs.
Our total number of players is 45. That leaves eight spots open.
Wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, cornerback, and placekicker are the likely positions that still have competition for the final roster spots. Who are the top guys for each position?
Wide reciever: Tyler Johnson, Jaydon Mickens, Bryant Mitchell, Josh Pearson
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Johnson makes the final 53, somehow. Mitchell was playing well last year until an Achilles injury took him out and Pearson is extremely talented. But the word is that Mickens can return kicks and punts. After T.J. Logan’s injury, the Bucs need someone to fill the void.
Offensive line: Aaron Stinnie, John Molchon, Zack Bailey, Josh Wells
The staff has talked up Molchon a lot. He and Stinnie have seen the most time at guard with the twos, per Greg Auman of The Athletic. The Bucs have versatile tackles in Wirfs and Haeg, which will help them save a roster spot in an overall sense.
Pick: Stinnie and Molchon
Defensive line: Kyle Love, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Patrick O’Connor
The final defensive line spot will come down to these three guys. O’Connor made the 53 last year, but was waived to make room for Logan, so I’m not sure the Bucs are that sold on him, despite Arians’ recent comments. Ledbetter has flashed at times. Love fits the mold of the Bucs’ defensive linemen in that he’s a big-time run stuffer who can occasionally get to the quarterback.
Outside Linebacker: Kahzin Daniels, Quinton Bell, Michael Divinity, Cam Gill
Yep. All of the backup outside linebackers are on here because it’s basically anyone’s guess as to which ones make the team. I’m just throwing a dart here and seeing what sticks.
Pick: Daniels and Divinity
Cornerback: Parnell Motley, Mazzi Wilkins
I mean, it’s gotta be Motley, right?? He’s done nothing but make plays throughout camp, but according to Arians, it will all come down to special teams. Wilkins has experience in the system, so he is certainly a player.
Plackicker: Matt Gay, Ryan Succop
This is pure speculation, but I think Arians brought in Succop to see how Gay handles the pressure this week. We’ll see how it plays out. Succop’s biggest concern is whether or not he is the same guy before knee surgery cost him the 2019 season.
Boom. There’s our eight spots. Who said filling out rosters is hard?
What do y’all think? Who makes the team? Let us know in the comments below!