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April 10, 2012 @ 11:25 am
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Jackson's Release Sends A Strong Message, But Weakens Safety Spot

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Why did the Buccaneers suddenly release starting free safety Tanard Jackson? Was it more than just a failed physical? What happens now at the safety position for Tampa Bay? Pewter Report's Scott Reynolds examines the situation in this article.
The Buccaneers’ already weak safety position just got weaker on Tuesday with the release of veteran Tanard Jackson, who was clearly the best safety on the team. The move was predicated because Jackson missed the first week of the team’s offseason program last week and was not diligently rehabbing his shoulder, which required surgery in January. He is expected to be ready to go by June.

With this action, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik is fully supporting new head coach Greg Schiano’s accountability as part of the “Buccaneer Way” of doing things, and clearly sending a message to the rest of the team that a new standard of professionalism is now in place at One Buccaneer Place. The general consensus was that the Bucs did not run a tight ship under former head coach Raheem Morris over the past three years, the last of which ended in 10 straight losses to close a disappointing 4-12 record on the 2011 season.

It used to be that if a Buccaneers player made the team coming out of training camp that he was essentially guaranteed a job for the rest of the year under the former regime. It’s evident that complacency had set in over the past three years as Tampa Bay rarely cut a player during the season unless it was a backup player. Jackson’s release is significant because he is a starter.

Reading between the lines, Jackson was not as professional as he needed to be this offseason, evidenced by the fact that he didn’t show up for the first week of offseason work, especially with the fact that he needed to continue to rehab his shoulder. Morris might have tolerated this type of behavior, but it won’t fly under Schiano.

Expect this move to send shockwaves in the Bucs locker room for a number of reasons. First, Jackson was a beloved player. His issues with drugs were self-destructive, but he was not viewed as a locker room cancer or a bad influence on teammates. Jackson was largely viewed as a great teammate that always had a team-first attitude.

Second, Jackson was the best safety on the team. He had 10 career interceptions and five forced fumbles in his Tampa Bay career and was a big-time playmaker when healthy. The message this sends the team is that if the Bucs can cut him, they can cut anybody.

And finally, the safety position was not considered a team strength before Jackson’s release and the talent and experience level just fell dramatically with his release. It’s clear that Schiano and Dominik aren’t afraid to take a step back in order to take a step forward at a later time with a player that buys into the “Buccaneer Way” of doing things.

The problem with Jackson’s release is that the Bucs were awfully thin at safety to begin with. Third-year player Cody Grimm has the most experience, but even he has only played in 14 games with 12 starts and has seen his last two seasons end on the injured reserve list. Grimm broke his leg during his rookie campaign in 2011 and then tore knee ligaments in Week 3.

Larry Asante, Ahmad Black, the team’s fifth-round pick last year, and Devin Holland, who spent most of his rookie season last year on injured reserve, are the only other safeties on the roster. Asante played sparingly as a reserve in 2011 and finished his season with 11 tackles and a forced fumble at the goal line in the season finale at Atlanta.

Black spent most of the year on the practice squad, but played in the season finale, finishing the game with five tackles and a fumble recovery.

Holland is regarded as a special teams demon, but he also led the team in interceptions in the preseason with two.

There is a chance that the Bucs could consider moving recently re-signed cornerback Ronde Barber over to safety for his 16th year in the NFL. Barber has cross-trained at safety before under former defensive coordinators Monte Kiffin and Raheem Morris, and does have some limited playing experience at the position.

Compounding Tampa Bay’s dilemma at safety is the fact that the position was weak in free agency this year and the Bucs did not sign one. The team opted not to re-sign starting strong safety Sean Jones because he failed to make enough plays. Jones, who is still available in free agency, was second on the team with 92 tackles, but only had two pass breakups and failed to record an interception in 16 games.

The draft is also very thin at safety where Alabama’s Mark Barron is the only first-round prospect. Notre Dame’s Harrison Smith figures to be a second-round pick, while LSU’s Brandon Taylor and Boise State’s George Illoka are likely to be third-round picks. Oklahoma State’s Markelle Martin and Michigan State’s Trenton Robinson could be selected in the third or fourth round.

Although the choices are few and far between, the Bucs will certainly have to either add a safety in free agency or in the draft in an attempt to bolster the talent and the depth at that position.

Schiano has gone on record to say that he has given every player a clean slate. However, the release of Jackson is evidence that Schiano is not afraid to wipe the slate clean rather quickly, either.

Last modified on Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:55
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    I hope that the coach had a good reason to cut TJackson. This is not college football...................
  • avatar


    I hope that the coach had a good reason to cut TJackson. This is not college football...................
  • avatar


    If I were Dominik I wouldn't go nuts trying to find a starter right away at safety. That's what he did last year trading this year's 4th round pick just to move up a few spots in the 4th round to pick up Stocker. We all have to realize that we simply can't fill all our holes in one offseason. We already invested in the safety position over the years so we have to hope those guys pan out (A. Black, C. Grimm, R. Barber??). The CB, RB, LB and FB positions are all a higher priority than safety. Yes, FB.
  • avatar


    Couldn't agree more BF47. Claiborne is the logical choice at # 5 but who knows if logic will prevail over the "buzz" Richardson would bring.
  • avatar


    I'm with Scubog & BucFan47. I felt so much better about this team and this Free Agency acquisition's that Ii am now aproud Season Ticket Holder. I believe that character does matter and discipline is right there with it and that's why I decided to be a Season Ticket Holder now that I am back in town. I couldn't do it with the old regime, but there is a whole new group of players that the Coach is slowly, but surely going to. A warning to the underachievers and those who think they can rehab in California? Beware, you may not be a Buccaneer for very long. This new Coach wants the players to stay in the Tampa Bay Area and live here and mingle within the community. It was the old Buccaneer Way for Decades and now it is the new Buccaneer Way too! Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    Hoping for the best... But not optimistic about the upcoming seasons
  • avatar

    Jar1710 - Not so fast. What exactly did T Jak do for the Bucs the last 2 years? He was not a leader on that defense or in the locker room. He was on his last chance with the league and one mistake with MJ and he will be permanently banned by the league. Undependable and disinterested gets you the boot. Plug Holland in and watch him dominate.
  • avatar

    Hes only been in the league for four years and the first two were pretty good if you look. And the last two years well he came off his suspension and did pretty good in a horrible defensive scheme he still had to learn. Devin Holland idk i just dont think you get rid of that type of player when your defense is already weak everywhere but the D-Line who im still waiting to put a full season together. what about strong safety?
  • avatar

    Then why are you up here? Seattle sucked but sold out their home games. I bet you wont even go to a Rays game talkin about Go Rays please!
  • avatar

    Though talented, the maturity displayed by T. Jax ultimately told his story. He was a "like it" guy when he needed to be a "love it" guy.
  • avatar

    IDK what point their proving here by releasing T-Jak. Im going to love watching what we do in this draft cause thats not just a hole but a gap in the secondary.
  • avatar

    I get it, the team needs more discipline but I do not think Jackson got enough time to live up to those expectations. He is a great talent nuff said. But I get it I guess. He didn't show up first week and is behind in rehabbing the shoulder. It's about being a professional and being disciplined. Jackson didn't show much of that but there are a lot of guys with his talent level that slack as well i.e. half of the big name WR in the league do all the time. Anyways I guess they'll have to address the position because they just made a another gaping hole in their already joke of a defense. Otagwe is still available and he is a Canuck whoo! Good Luck!
  • avatar

    dillja you disgust me with your go rays garbage!! I am a rays fan , but you need to support the Bucs in this year of transition and realize that it will be at least a couple years before Shiano and staff can implement the game plan and be truly competitive! Weather you like it or not this is a football town first and will always be a football town first! When the Bucs are winning again the rays will again be second best! Football is Tampa Bays favorite past time not Baseball!!!
  • avatar

    EVERYBODY!...... stop saying we should sign London Fletcher. It's a stupid move
  • avatar


    I know there's a bigger plan in motion. Looking forward to seeing how the draft plays out. Go Bucs!
  • avatar

    What message does this send to the team. Aqib "I get away with everything" Talib is still on the team. You let him go and a message will finally be sent. Talent still trumps character until that chump is gone.
  • avatar

    I think this all but insures the Bucs will select Mo Claiborne at #5 if available. I'm not sure why they chose to cut him prior to the draft. Maybe to give him a chance at signing with another team. Looks like some of the mocks with the Bucs drafting a safety maybe right after all.
  • avatar

    this alarms me a bit. while i'm happy to see a bad seed go, where is our depth at RB, LB, AND DB?? where will it come from? we are already short in the draft.... and we have only signed 5 free agents, total.... why not sign a guy like london fletcher? i'm supportive of the new regime, but when we only have 2 running backs on the entire roster.....it makes me scratch my head a bit.....
  • avatar


    ederk, I feel that Coach Schianois trying to fix the problem of discipline and where we are right now for lack of talent can be pointed at the GM and the previous coach. Just my opinion; if we draft a CB, LB, RB, SS, TE in the draft we are okay. No matter what, if Kallil is there we should draft him if we can't trade down.
  • avatar

    I like this move. I can see people looking and preparing more seriously because a real football coach is here to right the ship that Raheem wrecked with his buddy approach.
  • avatar

    You did not really think the Glazers had suddenly not become cheap did you? Call it whatever you want this was done to clear cap space for the tackle we just signed. 4 lowest payroll in NFL is better then lowest payroll in NFL but not by much.... Not that it really matters though we can't watch them on TV and Joel is on crack if he thinks I am paying to watch this team play.. Go Rays!
  • avatar


    dillja, lets look at this another way? I got back last month from a cruise that had a lot of Brit's on board and they feel the opposite way as we do and they accused the Glazer's of spending most of their money on the Buccaneers instead of their soccer team ManU. What it really comes down to is that this family is just doing business and will spend the money when it is required. Right now it is required and they are spending a lot of money on the Buc's and I don't have a problem with it.
  • avatar


    You really think that they cut him to make cap space for Okoye? Come on man. Yeah, over the years the Glazers have been cheap, no doubt but they spent virtually all theiir cap space this year. Shiano offered a clean slate and not showing up for the first week of activities made a clear impression on the coach that TJak wanted to do his own thing.
  • avatar


    Holland was a monster when healthy. If him and Grim can stay healthy and get Experience then its not a huge loss but that's a huge IF also. Fans complained that Morris didn't do enough so they cut a Morris Buddy to send a message. I'm OK with that.
  • avatar


    Sure hope Claiborne is available for our first pick so that Barber can be moved to safety IF NEEDED there.
  • avatar

    What are we goin to do about strong safety??
  • avatar


    I think there is more to come. I agree with this and I hope it does get some players attention. I would like to know who showed and who didn't that had previous injuries and rehab is on going like Price, McCoy and others? Pewter Report Scott, can you help on this?
  • avatar

    Can you say with the 36th pick the BUCS select HARRISON SMITH- Notre Dame.
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