Buccaneers: It’s a bad time to be a rookie linebacker in Tampa

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Grant Stuard, Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Grant Stuard, Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Buccaneers will most likely cut both of their rookie linebackers.

If this comes as a shock to you, you likely haven’t been paying attention to this roster since long before the 2021 NFL Draft. There were much better picks for the Buccaneers on draft weekend than two linebackers that would never make the roster, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Grant Stuard and K.J. Britt aren’t bad football players. In a perfect world, Britt would become the number three behind Lavonte David and Devin White, and Grant Stuard would take over as the special teams captain down the road. The fact that they probably won’t make the active roster isn’t an indictment on them as players, but on the franchise that put them in an unwindable situation.

The Bucs took long shots on day three of the draft when the picks matter much less already, but it was hard to support those decisions then, and it has only become more difficult to see where the team was going since then.

White, David, and Kevin Minter were already locked into the roster before the draft night. Britt was the best pure linebacker available by his pick in the draft, but Tampa already knew that he was going to sit behind David, White, and Minter at the very least. The thinking may have been that he could replace David well down the line, but that would’ve required cutting Minter, which also didn’t make sense.

Minter is already a great ILB3 for the Bucs and has played very well when called upon, such as when Devin White missed time. In addition to his role as a depth backer, Minter complicates matters for Stuard as a primary special teams contributor and captain.

Stuard was never going to replace David or White down the line, but some analysts did see him as a great special teams option for the Bucs if he could just find somewhere on the defense to contribute.

With one spot open for a rookie, the Buccaneers essentially shut the door on either to make the final roster when they signed Joe Jones. Jones is another Minter type that is best suited for special teams and limited defensive reps, but his experience gives him a significant advantage over either rookie.

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Britt and Stuard should remain on the practice squad for the Bucs with a chance to create a role further down the road, but for now, this looks like two wasted draft picks. Both could become great players in the NFL, but the right fit wasn’t in Tampa for now, and the coming weeks will only put that further on display.

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