Quarterback Ryan Griffin, return specialist Jaydon Mickens among released Bucs players

Cornerback Chris Wilcox, one of two seventh-round picks last spring, also was waived.
Count Jaydon Mickens, making a catch during a joint scrimmage against the Titans earlier this month, among the more prominent players to be released as the Bucs continue whittling their roster to the required 53 players by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline.
Count Jaydon Mickens, making a catch during a joint scrimmage against the Titans earlier this month, among the more prominent players to be released as the Bucs continue whittling their roster to the required 53 players by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Aug. 31, 2021|Updated Aug. 31, 2021

Veteran backup quarterback Ryan Griffin and return specialist Jaydon Mickens were among the Bucs’ most prominent final cuts as the team trimmed its roster to the NFL’s 53-player maximum Tuesday (see roster below).

The roster maneuvering, however, isn’t finished. Four players (defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, kicker Ryan Succop and offensive linemen Nick Leverett and Earl Watford) remain on the reserve/COVID-19 list and don’t count against the 53-player limit. When they’re cleared to return, others will have to depart.

Most of the released players must go through waivers. Those who clear waivers are eligible for the Bucs’ practice squad, which should be finalized later in the week.

The veterans no longer required to go through the waiver process (making them free agents immediately) are Mickens, Griffin, defensive tackle Jeremiah Ledbetter, cornerback Antonio Hamilton, linebacker Joe Jones, tight end Jerell Adams and running back C.J. Prosise.

Other notable cuts were cornerback Herb Miller, praised for his limited action (four games, one interception) in 2020; promising tight end Codey McElroy and seventh-round draft pick Chris Wilcox, a cornerback from Brigham Young who missed part of training camp with an undisclosed injury.

Wilcox was the only member of the Bucs’ seven-player 2021 draft class to be released.

Mickens, 27, averaged nearly 25 yards on 14 kick returns and had seven catches during the 2020 regular season, his first full year with Tampa Bay. His departure indicates the Bucs have settled on fourth-round draft pick Jaelon Darden as a primary return specialist and additional slot weapon in their expansive receiver rotation.

The departures of Wilcox, Miller and Hamilton (among a handful of players cut Monday) were prompted in part by the August emergence of Dee Delaney. A Miami graduate transfer who began his career at The Citadel, Delaney (12 preseason tackles, two interceptions) joins a cornerback rotation that includes Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean.

McElroy’s departure (though he could join the practice squad if he clears waivers) leaves the Bucs with three tight ends — Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard — on the roster.

Elsewhere, receiver Justin Watson was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list, while injured offensive lineman Brad Seaton was waived.

Bucs restructure Evans’ contract

As they did a year ago, the Bucs also restructured the contract of receiver Mike Evans to create more salary-cap space. Evans was scheduled to earn $16.637 million this season, and much of that could be converted into a bonus.

The Bucs had about $158,000 of salary cap space, according to The money will be used for injured reserve, the practice squad and signing free agents during the season.

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Evans is expected to sign the new contract when players return Thursday.

Bucs’ 53-player roster

QB Tom Brady

QB Blaine Gabbert

QB Kyle Trask

RB Giovani Bernard

RB Leonard Fournette

RB Ronald Jones

RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn

WR Antonio Brown

WR Jaelon Darden

WR Mike Evans

WR Chris Godwin

WR Tyler Johnson

WR Scotty Miller

OL Alex Cappa

OL Ali Marpet

OL Ryan Jensen

OL Robert Hainsey

OL John Molchon

OL Donovan Smith

OL Aaron Stinnie

OL Josh Wells

OL Tristan Wirfs

TE Cameron Brate

TE Rob Gronkowski

TE O.J. Howard

DL Khalil Davis

DL William Gholston

DL Steve McLendon

DL Patrick O’Connor

DL Vita Vea

DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches

LB K.J. Britt

LB Shaquil Barrett

LB Lavonte David

LB Cam Gill

LB Kevin Minter

LB Anthony Nelson

LB Jason Pierre-Paul

LB Grant Stuard

LB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

LB Devin White

CB Sean Murphy-Bunting

CB Carlton Davis III

CB Jamel Dean

CB Dee Delaney

S Ross Cockrell

S Chris Cooper

S Mike Edwards

S Jordan Whitehead

S Antoine Winfield Jr.

K Jose Borregales

P Bradley Pinion

LS Zach Triner

Reserve/PUP list

WR Justin Watson

Reserve/COVID-19 list

OL Nick Leverett

PK Ryan Succop

DL Ndamukong Suh

OL Earl Watford

• • •

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