Buccaneers Make Some Surprise Moves
By James Yarcho
As the Buccaneers‘ 53-man roster took shape yesterday afternoon, there were some surprises – both in who they cut and who they kept.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trimmed their roster down to the required 53-players on Friday and it left us with a few “head-scratchers”. It’s not very often a camp fan favorite gets released while a player many pegged as “gone” stays. It’s not very often a team keeps five tight ends. And it’s not very often a team has their final 53-man roster all but officially announced and leaves people scratching their heads about holes still staring us in the face.
But that’s football.
We’re not in the practices. We’re not in the film rooms. We’re not in the study sessions, the workout room, or with these players on a day to day basis. We have our opinions based on the limited things we do see and the limited things they let us know. It’s hard to criticize a team for the decisions they make when telling 22 guys their dream is over.
That being said, I don’t envy Dirk Koetter or Jason Licht for the conversations they had to have with these players. Guys like Bernard Reedy and Donteea Dye, who were cut because of injuries. Guys like Kenny Bell who would shine so bright, only to disappear under the biggest lights. Guys like Luke Rhodes and Micah Awe who played their butts off and, in all likelihood, deserved a spot on this team.
Of the 22 players informed that their days as Buccaneers were over, there were a few surprises. Of the 53 players informed they would remain with the team, there were just as many. Which were the biggest ones?
Johnthan Banks – 53-Man Roster
Here’s a player who was all but gone. He looked putrid in camp and practices, but when given the opportunities in games, he showed up and made plays. Banks was one of six cornerbacks that made the 53-man roster and is by far the most surprising of all of them. Apparently Mike Smith saw in him some untapped potential that he can continue to mold into a player that will excel in his system.
Remember, this is a contract year for Banks so he may be out of a Bucs uniform soon, anyway. We obviously want to see him explode and reach the levels we saw flashes of his first two seasons. Brent Grimes is not the future of this team. He’s a great addition for one, maybe two years. If Mike Smith can get Banks to the level we all hope, Banks could once again be that future to go along with Vernon Hargreaves III.
Dan Vitale – Cut
A sixth-round pick that had fans dreaming of the days of Mike Alstott, Vitale never really “got it”. His workload in preseason was limited and, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN, he had some blocking issues. Not good for someone playing tight end.
Alan Cross – 53-Man Roster
On the flip side of the Vitale move, undrafted free agent Alan Cross made the team as the fifth tight end, along with Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Luke Stocker, and Brandon Myers. Cross, who came out of the University of Memphis, found a way to beat out Vitale for a roster spot. He wasn’t a player that got a lot of attention in preseason – three receptions for 27 yards – but according to Brandon Myers, he’s a guy that has put in the work;
"“He’s a guy that comes in and goes to work every day, a guy you can root for. I totally see where he’s coming from. I know his past. I’m very excited for him. He’s a guy that’s going to come in and thump, be a downhill guy. What people don’t really know about him is he can catch the ball really well. Very smart, quiet guy. He’s got many hidden talents, as you’ll find out.”"
Luke Rhodes – Cut
The team’s leading tackler in preseason seemed like a shoe-in for a roster spot, given the lack of depth at linebacker. We witnessed the team lose four straight with Kwon Alexander suspended and struggle mightily when Lavonte David was hurt. It finally seemed like Rhode’s year. Unfortunately, he passed over for the likes of Devante Bond and Adarius Glanton. Rhodes finished the preseason with sixteen total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Although he’d be a huge addition to the practice squad, he seems like a prime candidate to be picked up by another team.
This roster is far from set. As teams continue to announce their “final” rosters, the waiver wire will be a busy, busy place. Look for the Bucs to continue making moves, possibly a receiver that can handle return duties, depth at defensive tackle, potentially a running back as they were underwhelmed with Peyton Barber and Russell Hansbrough.
Which moves surprised you the most? Let us know in the comments or tweet using the hashtag #53Bucs