TAMPA — Given how the Tom Brady era ended, the Bucs set out to find some diamonds in the very rough offseason.
The directive was to get younger to control player costs that left them more than $55 million over the salary cap.
Teams had to reach the 53-man roster limit by 4 p.m. Tuesday. There are bound to be a few changes between now and when the Bucs take the field against the Vikings Sept. 10 in Minneapolis.
But the Bucs already have made all the moves to be compliant, and what had been the oldest roster in the NFL has been transformed into one of the youngest.
As predicted by head coach Todd Bowles, the Bucs kept at least 13 rookies, including six undrafted rookie free agents.
They also have newcomers such as quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Chase Edmonds, place-kicker Chase McLaughlin, guard Matt Feiler, safety Ryan Neal and defensive lineman Greg Gaines. That’s at least 19 new players, and there could be more.
“We’re ready for the real thing,” Mayfield said. “I’ll say that. With the three preseason games, you get the time off between now and the real (games).”
The Bucs canceled Wednesday’s practice due to the approach of Hurricane Idalia. They currently are scheduled to work out Thursday before taking off for a three-day weekend.
A couple of rookies, such as defensive back Christian Izien, defensive tackle Calijah Kancey, receiver Trey Palmer and offensive guard Cody Mauch, will be counted on to start right away.
Others will be used in significant 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.
Quarterbacks (3): Starter: Baker Mayfield. Backup: Kyle Trask
The Bucs decided to release No. 3 quarterback John Wolford but almost certainly will attempt to sign him to the practice squad. A new rule proposed by the Detroit Lions allows for an inactive third quarterback to play if the first two signal-callers are injured. But the Bucs decided not to use up a roster spot on Wolford.
Running back (4): Starter: Rachaad White. Backups: Sean Tucker, Chase Edmonds, Ke’Shawn Vaughn
White became the starter halfway through the 2022 season but only produced one 100-yard rushing game. Edmonds is a third-down back in the role once held by Giovani Bernard. Tucker, an undrafted rookie from Syracuse, rushed 23 times for 81 yards in the preseason but had some long runs called back due to penalties. Vaughn appeared vulnerable and will have to contribute on special teams.
Tight end (4): Starter: Cade Otton. Backups: Ko Kieft, Payne Durham, David Wells
Hard to believe Otton is the leader of the room in only his second season. Kieft will be used in a lot of two-tight-end sets under new offensive coordinator Dave Canales.
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Receiver (5): Starters: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Trey Palmer. Backups: Deven Thompkins, Rakim Jarrett
Palmer was the star of the preseason with two TD catches and earned the No. 3 spot after the season-ending knee injury sustained by Russell Gage during the joint practice with the Jets. Thompkins is the starting kick returner.
Offensive line (9): Starters: LT Tristan Wirfs, LG Matt Feiler, C Robert Hainsey, RG Cody Mauch, RT Luke Goedeke. Backups: G/C Nick Leverett, G Aaron Stinnie, T Brandon Walton, T Justin Skule
The Bucs added Mauch but basically shuffled the deck after center Ryan Jensen was placed on injured reserve again. The good news is Hainsey started 17 games last season. Wirfs is attempting a move from right tackle to left tackle without sacrificing his All-Pro play, and the team hopes Goedeke’s move to right tackle will improve his play.
Defensive line (6): Starters: DE Logan Hall, DT Vita Vea, DE Calijah Kancey. Backups: DT Greg Gaines, DE William Gholston, DL Mike Greene
Kancey missed most of training camp and three preseason games with a calf strain, but the Bucs hope he’s ready by Sept. 10. Hall takes over for Gholston, who made the cut in his 11th year. Greene was a longshot who squeezed out Patrick O’Connor.
Inside linebacker (4): Starters: Devin White, Lavonte David. Backups: K.J. Britt, SirVocea Dennis.
No surprises here, although J.J. Russell deserved a better fate after some good performances in preseason games. Dennis showed natural instincts and can rush the passer.
Outside linebacker (6): Starters: Shaquil Barrett, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Backups: Anthony Nelson, YaYa Diaby, Cam Gill, Markees Watts.
Watts was a tryout player for the Bucs in minicamp and signed for a $1,000 bonus. Gill, who had a half sack in Super Bowl 55, missed last season with a Lisfranc injury. It’s a big year for Barrett, coming off an Achilles tear, and Tryon-Shoyinka, who has been told to step it up.
Cornerback (6): Starters: Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean. Backups: Christian Izien, Zyon McCollum, Josh Hayes, Derrek Pitts
Izien won the nickel cornerback job as a rookie over McCollum. Pitts was an undrafted longshot.
Safety (4): Starters: Antoine Winfield Jr., Ryan Neal. Backups: Dee Delaney, Kaevon Merriweather
Winfield is iffy for the season opener, and Delaney would be the next man up. Neal, a former Seahawks free agent, should provide vet experience.
Specialists (3): Starters PK Chase McLaughlin, P Jake Carmada, LS Zach Triner.
McLaughlin won the job over Rodrigo Blankenship and gives the Bucs more long-range field goals.
WR Taye Barber
LB Brandon Bouyer-Randle
DL C.J. Brewer
RB Ronnie Brown
LS Evan Deckers
OL Silas Dzansi
WR Kaylon Geiger
OL Luke Haggard
CB Keenan Isaac
WR Cephus Johnson
S Richard Lecounte
WR Ryan Miller
OL John Molchon
OL Michael Niese
OL Raiqwon O’Neal
DL Willington Previlon
OLB Jose Ramirez
OLB Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
LB J.J. Russell
OLB Charles Snowden
TE Tanner Taula
S Nolan Turner
WR Kade Warner
CB Rodarius Williams
S Avery Young
Terminated contracts of
CB Anthony Chesley
LB Ulysees Gilbert
RB Patrick Laird
WR David Moore
DL Patrick O’Connor
DL Deadrin Senat
QB John Wolford
TE Dominique Dafney
CB Don Gardner
S Kedrick Whitehead
Waived (failure to disclose physical condition)
OL Chris Murray
Placed on injured reserve
C Ryan Jensen
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