Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence hasn’t seen the field much this season. Will he be with the organization past 2018?
It’s only two weeks into the season, but the writing is on the wall for Tampa Bay Buccaneers edge rusher Noah Spence.
Spence walked into training camp with plenty of hype. Once touted as the best edge-rusher in the 2016 NFL Draft, he appears to be another mistake from general manager Jason Licht’s poor 2016 class.
Licht invested in his defensive line in the offseason, and Spence looked to have an essential role on paper as a third down rusher.
Spence’s job appeared to be in danger back in the preseason. He played every snap in the final exhibition game. Spence’s presence alongside players who had little chance of making the roster opened the eyes of the fanbase.
The regular season has been no different.
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Through two weeks of regular season play, every defensive lineman on the Buccaneers roster has seen more action. Spence has plummeted to the bottom of the depth chart.
The story is the same for Carl Nassib. Tampa Bay claimed the former Cleveland Browns defensive end off waivers before the season opener. In the first game of the season, Nassib out-snapped Spence 27 to 4.
Unless something drastically changes, Spence will only see the field in emergency situations, and his future with the Buccaneers is almost certainly in jeopardy.
After this season, Tampa Bay can part ways with Spence and save nearly $1.2 million, according to overthecap.com. That is nice savings for a player who has accumulated four snaps in the opening weeks of the season.
Spence began his NFL career as a polarizing prospect. He was labeled as a player with off-field baggage but has been out of the headlines in Tampa Bay. Injuries have hindered Spence thus far, not his attitude.
"We’re not down on Noah. He’s working extremely hard to work on the things that we’ve asked him to work on. It’s not about not trying hard enough, not working hard enough, not caring enough – Dirk Koetter"
After he recorded 5.5 sacks in an impressive rookie season, Spence played in only six games in 2017, registering just one sack. Bucs fans would later learn that Spence played through his rookie season with a painful shoulder injury.
In 2017, the injury was too much, and after four shoulder dislocations, he moved to injured reserve.
After offseason surgery, most assumed the injury woes were behind him. Perhaps that isn’t the case. The injury may be the reason for Spence’s ineffectiveness.
The talent he displayed in 2016 doesn’t disappear out of thin air. The shoulder may not be something Spence can overcome.
A player like Spence lives off his strength and athleticism. If he can’t use his arms effectively against NFL-caliber tackles, he’s not going to be effective rushing the passer.
While there’s been no confirmation about Spence’s injury, head coach Dirk Koetter mentioned in a press conference following the Week two win, that Spence is hard at work.
According to the transcripts provided by the organization, Koetter explained that Spence’s lack of special teams work was why he didn’t suit up.
While that may have played a part in why Spence was a healthy scratch, wouldn’t he be on the field if he was at the same level that he was in 2016?
The Buccaneers only have four sacks on the year and could use some help in the pass rushing department. Still, Spence hasn’t seen the field much.
On a positive note, time is on Spence’s side. The Bucs play their third game of the season on Monday night. With so many games left, he can put in plenty of work during practice to earn some snaps.
Injuries can also open up some playing time for him. Remember, Tampa Bay has invested a ton in Spence, but the first two weeks put his future in doubt.