The Bucs have been busy recently adding young talent through the 2022 NFL Draft and subsequently in undrafted free agency. Over the last two weeks the team has added 21 players to the roster. That puts Tampa Bay just one player shy of the 90-man offseason limit. (Can you say tight end Rob Gronkowski?)
Eight of the new players are 2022 draft picks. While the other 13 were undrafted rookie free agents.
With nearly a full roster, the Bucs could still make moves to add more talent in free agency this summer. Re-signing Gronkowski and adding a veteran defensive tackle and edge rusher seems likely.
Here is what the Bucs’ 89-man roster looks like right now.
Quarterbacks – 4
Analysis: Three months ago we were talking about who the heir apparent to Brady would be. How quickly things can change. With Brady back, and the re-signings or Gabbert and Griffin, the quarterback room remains intact from last season. The biggest question is if Trask can beat out Gabbert for the No. 2 spot this summer. Griffin will return to the practice squad.
Running Backs – 5
Analysis: The big move was giving Fournette a three-year deal worth $21 million. Re-signing Bernard was a pleasant surprise. And drafting White injected some youth into the backfield with a player that can immediately contribute in a variety of ways. Vaughn will have to show he’s ready to take the next step, while staving off the rookie. Barner could come back on the practice squad and adds insurance in the return game.
Wide Receivers – 14
Cyril Grayson, Jr.
Austin Watkins, Jr.
Analysis: Godwin is back in the fold on a long-term contract extension. Evans is read to post 1,000 yards receiving for a ninth straight year. The addition of Gage adds a viable No. 3 option and inside and outside versatility. Perriman could start the year as WR3 if Godwin isn’t ready to go, but will have competition from Grayson. Both will battle for the WR4 role, unless the Bucs add an established veteran to the group. Johnson was thrust into a bigger role when injuries occurred last season, but has to prove he can be more consistent on offense. The Bucs aren’t ready to give up on Darden after just one year. Miller will be battling for a spot with Darden, Johnson and the undrafted free agent receivers.
Jonsen is the lone holdover from Tampa Bay’s practice squad last season. They like the former quarterback and have praised his impact on the scout team. While Smith is intriguing player with a unique blend of size and speed. He’s seen game action with the Jets and Texans.
Watkins spent time on the 49ers practice squad last season and is the cousin of receiver Sammy Watkins. The three undrafted receivers the Bucs brought in are all 5-foot-9 or shorter. They will need to impact special teams to crack the roster.
Tight Ends – 5
Analysis: The elephant in the room is the possible return of Gronkowski. If he comes back this room has a nice mix of veteran talent and youth. However, Brate will need to step up if Gronkowski retires. Otton’s blocking ability should allow him to see the field early, even if Gronk returns. Kieft will be a weapon as a blocker and could be a force on special teams as TE4. Like Tanner Hudson, McElroy has been given plenty of chances to prove he belongs and will turn 29 this year. Beise gives them a younger prospect to develop with serious upside.
Offensive Tackle – 7
Analysis: Smith and Wirfs are locked in as bookend tackles. The Bucs also brought back last year’s top swing tackle option in Wells. Not without competition though, as they signed Johnson, an intriguing physical talent with upside. He’s a real challenger for Wells spot on the depth chart and has played some guard as well.
Practice-squaders Walton and Hubbard return, but have a serious uphill climb to make the roster. They appear bound for another season on the practice squad, but will be pushed by Cook, an undrafted free agent. He was a former quarterback before making the switch to tackle late in college.
Offensive Guard – 7
Analysis: This position had the most turnover this offseason. The Bucs lost both starting guards to retirement and free agency. Ali Marpet suddenly retired and Alex Cappa joined the Bengals in free agency. General manager Jason Licht performed wizardry again when he traded a fifth round selection for Mason. He’ll replace Cappa at right guard. Stinnie was re-signed to a one-year deal to keep familiarity on the line.
While Stinnie has the playbook advantage and multiple starts, he will be pushed by Goedeke, whom Licht traded up for in the second round. The rookie should be a serious challenge to Stinnie for the staring spot.
Leverett remains in the roster as a valuable Swiss Army knife on the line with his versatility. And Molchon spent his second year with the team on the practice squad and offers flexibility to play center as well. The team was high on Hutcherson last season before a preseason knee injury robbed him of his rookie season. He’s a dark horse to make the roster. If not, he’ll battle Blackwell for a spot on the practice squad.
Center – 2
Analysis: This one is pretty cut and dry. Jensen re-upping on a three-year deal ensures the nasty Pro Bowl center will remain with the Bucs. Hainsey will settle in as the top back up again, while also getting a look at left guard in camp.
Defensive Line – 9
Analysis: Even with the drafting of Hall this room still feels light. One has to think another move is coming for the Bucs. Yet it’s doubtful it’s re-signing Ndamukong Suh. Vea is an absolute monster and is getting paid like one. He’ll need to earn that contract by getting to the quarterback more often in 2022. Gholston is a lunch-pail, dirty-work player that will never get flashy stats but will get the job done.
Hall is set to be the starting 3-technique defensive tackle. However, his versatility will allow Bowles to use him a variety of ways. Nunez-Roches will rotate in at nose tackle and 3-tech. O’Connor is interesting, because he was starting to show more as a defensive player before his injury. If he picks up where he left off, he could make a case for more snaps this season.
The Bucs did bring in one free agent, signing Senat to a one-year deal. The former third-round pick by the Falcons has 34 career tackles. He’ll be trying to displace Potoa’e, who showed some progress last season. Previlon is and Smith will likely battle for a spot on the practice squad again.
Edge Linebacker: – 6
Analysis: Perhaps the biggest question mark on the roster is if Tryon-Shoyinka will be able to take the next step as a starter. He showed a lot of promise his rookie season splitting time with Jason Pierre-Paul. Tryon-Shoyinka has the speed, size, and ability to be a playmaker on defense. Barrett will line up across from him and will need to continue his level of Pro Bowl play.
Nelson took a big step in the right direction, especially later in the season. He finished with a career-high five sacks. Gill continues to show flashes of athleticism and is a core special-teamer. Ponder spent training camp with the Bucs but was waived and joined the practice squad the last leg of the season.
Anthony, a seventh-round pick, continues to work his way back from a knee injury and has impressive speed. Ozougwu is undersized, but has a wicked first step and a nice array of rush moves. Both have a shot at making the practice squad.
Inside Linebacker – 8
Analysis: David enters the final year of his deal, while White will play his final season before his option year. White will need to display more patience and understanding of the position, rather than relying on speed and athleticism. David needs to show he can stay healthy, after injuries affected him the past two seasons.
Britt will get every opportunity to show he belongs as the top back up with Kevin Minter unsigned. He’ll be quarterbacking the second team unit in practice, while continuing his role on special teams. Stuard, last year’s Mr. Irrelevant, was a force on special teams with a team-high 12 tackles.
The Bucs didn’t draft a linebacker but signed a slew of them after the draft. Russell and Young were highly productive in college, but might be too slow to succeed at the next level. Fatukasi has the best chance at sticking as a practice squad player but could show enough to crack the roster. He was coached by former Bucs head coach Greg Schiano at Rutgers.
Cornerback – 9
Carlton Davis III
Analysis: The main core return with Davis on a lucrative new deal. Dean and Murphy-Bunting have a lot to prove to earn second contracts with the Bucs next season, but will be given every chance to do so. Cockrell is back due to his versatility in the secondary. While the coaches were really impressed by Delaney last season. Robinson is an ace special teams player but couldn’t stay healthy.
The Bucs added three rookies to the room. They traded a 2023 fourth-round selection to snag McCollum in the fifth round. He possesses a rare blend of size, speed, athleticism for the position. McCollum had the best testing scores of any corner ever at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has versatility to play all over the defensive backfield.
McMichael received the highest guaranteed money of any undrafted Bucs player and has versatility as well. He is a prime candidate to develop on the practice squad and could potentially make a push for the active roster. Gardner is a physical corner and probably a practice squad player. He received a $10,000 signing bonus from the Bucs.
Safety – 7
Antoine Winfield, Jr.
Analysis: Winfield should continue his progression as a top free safety in the league. While Edwards offers versatility and playmaking skills entering the last year of his rookie deal. He’ll get the first shot at replacing Jordan Whitehead at strong safety. Ryan is a versatile defensive back and could see time at nickel cornerback and free safety. Neal will try to recapture the magic of his first two seasons as a hard-hitting strong safety, competing with Edwards.
Cooper and Warner return after spending the year on the practice squad. Warner was protected several times and is the brother of 49ers linebacker Fred Warner.
Nolan is the wild card here. He received the second highest signing bonus at $15,000 and apparently has the team’s eye. If the Bucs elect to keep five safeties, he’s a player to keep an eye on. He has 4.37 speed, is good in run support, and versatile. Nolan also was a core special-teamer at Clemson.
Specialists – 6
Analysis: The Bucs’ drafting of Camarda effectively signals the end of Pinion. But Tampa Bay may elect to bring Pinion to camp for competition. Moving on from the veteran punter would save the Bucs $2.9 million. Hofrichter was re-signed and filled in when Pinion was out, but did little to impress.
As for the kicking competition, that’s exactly what it is. Succop will have to hold off Borregales this summer. While Succop has been sure-footed he lacks the power to drive kicks from longer than 39 yards on a regular basis. The Bucs would save $2 million by moving on from him.
Borregales, a former Lou Graza award winner, has a cannon for a leg and routinely made field goals from 60 yards in practice. The Bucs also protected him every week of last season.
Triner returns as the team’s long snapper on a two-year deal.