TAMPA — In what may be Tom Brady’s final season, the Bucs chose production over potential when it came to selecting his receivers.
The Bucs waived Tyler Johnson Tuesday as they eliminated their surplus at that position. They also released undrafted free agents Deven Thompkins and Kaylon Geiger. On Monday, they waived Jerreth Sterns, an undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky who led the nation in receiving.
The remaining receivers are Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Scotty Miller, Breshad Perriman and Jaelon Darden.
In a surprising move to reach the 53-man roster by Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Bucs released safety Logan Ryan. However, Ryan is not subject to waivers and could re-sign with the team Wednesday. Tampa Bay will create another roster spot when they place center Ryan Jensen on the physically unable to perform list Wednesday, making him eligible for recall.
The Bucs also traded linebacker Grant Stuard and a seventh-round pick in 2023 to the Colts for their sixth-round pick next year.
Stuard, the final player selected in the 2021 draft, led the Bucs in special teams tackles last season.
In addition, Tampa Bay released quarterback Ryan Griffin; running back Patrick Laird; offensive linemen John Molchon and Dylan Cook; linebackers Genard Avery, Elijah Ponder, Jordan Young, and J.J. Russell; , defensive linemen Mike Greene, Deadrin Sanat, Benning Potoa’e and Willington Previlon; safety Nolan Turner; kicker Jose Borregales; and tight end J.J. Howland.
Ponder will be waived/injured, which will require him to reach a settlement with the team before he can return on the practice squad. Cornerback Rashard Robinson also was placed on injured reserve and likely will reach a settlement. That leaves Dee Delaney as a fifth cornerback to go with Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Jamel Dean and Zyon McCollum.
The only undrafted rookie to crack the roster was linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi.
The Bucs decided to keep four running backs: Leonard Fournette, Rachaad White, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Giovani Bernard, who has been hurt most of the preseason.
Some other interesting developments: Offensive lineman Brandon Walton, the former Seminole High and Florida Atlantic star, stuck as a tackle/guard. Fred Johnson, the former Florida Gators star, made it as an offensive tackle.
Rookie Ko Kieft, a sixth-round pick from Minnesota, will be the Bucs’ fourth tight end. He was impressive as a run blocker, particularly from the fullback position.
Johnson, a third-year pro from Minnesota, had 36 catches for 360 yards last season. But he failed to get into the end zone. Although he stood out in training camp, he is not a contributor on special teams.
Johnson’s release was confirmed early by the club, most likely hoping to drum up some possible trade interest before the waiver claims begin later Wednesday.
Darden was the Bucs’ primary kick returner as a rookie a year ago. Miller covered kicks and can return punts if needed.
The Bucs have 18 players who were not on the 53-man roster a year ago. That includes eight veterans and 10 rookies.
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Thompkins made highlight-reel catches in practice and games against the Dolphins and Titans. Johnson led the Bucs in the preseason with 11 catches for 133 yards. Sterns (six for 64 yards, TD), Geiger (six for 54) and Thompkins (five for 52) also performed well.
The rookie receivers could join the Bucs practice squad if they clear waivers Wednesday.
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