Tampa — Considering how the Tom Brady era ended, the Boxers set out to find some diamonds in a very rough offseason.
The directive was to get them younger to control players’ costs which put them over $55 million over the salary cap.
Teams had to reach the roster limit of 53 players by 4 p.m. on Tuesday. There are bound to be some changes between now and when the Bucs take the field against the Vikings on Sept. 10 in Minneapolis.
But the Bucs have already made all the moves to be compliant, and what was the oldest roster in the NFL has turned into one of the youngest.
As predicted by head coach Todd Boles, the Bucs retained no fewer than 13 rookie players, including six undrafted rookie agents.
They also have newcomers like quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Chase Edmonds, forward Chase McLaughlin, guard Matt Fyler, safety Ryan Neal and defensive lineman Greg Gaines. This means at least 19 new players, and there could be more.
“We’re ready for the real thing,” Mayfield said. “I’ll say it. With the three pre-season games, you’ll have time off between now and the real (matches).
The Bucs canceled Wednesday’s practice due to approaching Hurricane Idalia. They are currently scheduled to train on Thursday before kicking off the three-day weekend.
A couple of young players, defensive back Christian Eisen, defensive tackle Kaliga Kansi, receiver Trey Palmer and offensive guard Cody Mauch, will be counted on to start right away.
Others will be used in important backup roles, such as receiver Rakim Jarrett, running back Sean Tucker, tight end Payne Durham and outside linebacker Yaya Diaby.
Here’s a breakdown of the Bucs’ 53-man roster.
middle (3): Start: Baker Mayfield. Backup: Kyle Trask
The Bucs decided to release #3 quarterback John Walford but will almost certainly try to sign him to the practice squad. A new rule proposed by the Detroit Lions allows an inactive third quarterback to play if the first two signal callers are hit. But the Bucs decided against using a roster spot at Wolford.
return (4): Starting point: Rashad White. Backups: Sean Tucker, Chase Edmonds, Keshawn Vaughn
White became the starter midway through the 2022 season but only produced one 100-yard rushing game. Edmonds is third in the role previously held by Giovanni Bernard. Tucker, an undrafted freshman from Syracuse, rushed 23 times for 81 yards in the preseason but was called to some long runs due to penalties. Vaughn looked weak and would have to contribute to special teams.
narrow end (4): The Apprentice: Kid Otton. Reserves: Coe Kieft, Payne Durham, David Wells
It’s hard to believe that Otton is the leader of the room in only his second season. Kieft will be used in a lot of tight end combos under new offensive coordinator Dave Canales.
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Receiver (5): Starters: Mike Evans, Chris Goodwin, Trey Palmer. Subs: Devin Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett
Palmer was the star of the pre-season getting two TD’s and a third overall after a season-ending knee injury sustained by Russell Gage while training jointly with the Jets. Thompkins is the kickoff returner.
Offensive line (9): Starters: LT Tristan Wervis, LG Matt Weiler, C Robert Hennessy, RG Cody Mauch, RT Luke Guedecki. Backups: J/C Nick Leverett, J Aaron Steiny, T Brandon Walton, T Justin Skoll
The Bucs added Mauch but basically shuffled their deck after placing center Ryan Jensen on injured reserve again. The good news is that Hennessey started 17 games last season. Wirfs is trying to transition from right tackle to left tackle without sacrificing his professional game, and the team is hoping Goedeke’s move to right tackle will improve his game.
Defense line (6): Beginners: DE Logan Hall, DT Vita Vea, DE Calijah Kancey. Backups: DT Greg Gaines, DT William Goulston, DL Mike Green
Kansi missed most of training camp and three preseason games with a calf strain, but the Bucks are hoping he’ll be ready by September 10. Hall takes over from Golston, who made the cut in his 11th year. Green was just wide as he put pressure on Patrick O’Connor.
inside linebacker (4): Starting: Devin White, Lafonte David. Backups: KG Brett, Dennis Servosia.
No surprises here, though JJ Russell deserves a better fate after some fine performances in pre-season matches. Denis showed natural instincts and could lunge at passers-by.
Outside back (6): Starting: Shaquille Barrett, Jo Tryon Soyinka. Backups: Anthony Nelson, Yaya Diaby, Cam Gill, Marquis Watts.
Watts was a tryout for the Bucs’ minicamp and signed for a $1,000 bonus. Gill, who had half a sack in Super Bowl 55, missed last season due to an injury to Lisfranc. It’s a big year for Barrett, after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, and Tryon Soyinka, who has been asked to step it up.
Rear corner (6): Start: Carlton Davis, Jamal Dean. Subs: Christian Eisen, Zion McCollum, Josh Hayes, Derek Bates
Izien won the cornerback job nickel as a rookie over McCollum. Bates was an undrafted long shot.
Safety (4): Starters: Antoine Winfield Jr., Ryan Neal. Backups: Dee Delaney, Kevon Meriwether
Winfield is out for the inaugural season, and Delaney will be the next guy. Neil, a former Seahawks free agent, should provide vet expertise.
Specialists (3): Juniors BK Chase McLaughlin, BJ Carmada, LS Zach Trainer.
McLaughlin won the job over Rodrigo Blankenship and gave the Bucs more long-distance field goals.
I gave up
WR Ty Barber
LB Brandon Boyer Randall
RB Ronnie Brown
LS Evan Dekkers
Ol Silas Dzansi
WR Cylon Geiger
First Luke Haggard
CB Keenan Isaacs
WR Cephus Johnson
S Richard Leconte
WR Ryan Miller
First John Mulchon
First Michael Ness
First Rycon O’Neil
DL Wellington Brevillon
Olbe Jose Ramirez
OLB Hamilcar Rashid Jr.
Olbel Charles Snowden
TE Tanner Tawla
S Nolan Turner
WR Cady Warner
CB Rodarius Williams
S. Avery Young
CB Anthony Chesley
LB Ulysses Gilbert
RB Patrick Laird
WR David Moore
DL Patrick O’Connor
DL Dideren Senat
QB John Wolford
TE Dominique Daphne
CB Don Gardner
S. Kedrick Whitehead
Waived (No physical condition disclosed)
First Chris Murray
Placed on injured reserve
C Ryan Jensen
• • •
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