With roster cuts set to begin over the next two days, the Bucs have started that process by releasing running back Dare Ogunbowale, per Ian Rapoport, and kicker Matt Gay, according to Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero.
The #Bucs are cutting RB Dare Ogunbowale, source said, a special teams captain and core contributor who has been with the team since 2018. The RB room was crowded thanks to the addition of Leonard Fournette.
Ogunbowale was in a battle with LeSean McCoy for the role of third-down back, but after the addition of Leonard Fournette, the competition got much more crowded. He also played an important role on special teams and was a team captain of that unit last season. It comes as a bit of a surprise considering how impactful he was in that role.
His first stint with the Bucs came in 2017 when he signed to the practice squad in late November, but was released a week later in December.
One year later in 2018, Ogunbowale was one of the big stories at training camp as he fought to make the roster. Though he didn’t make the it, he spent most of the year on the practice squad and did appear on the 53-man roster for two weeks in November.
The hard work paid off for Ogunbowale as his most formidable season came last year when he received the most playing time in his career on offense and also carved out a niche on special teams. He had 11 rushes for 17 yards and two touchdowns along with making 35 receptions for 286 yards. It was the first time in his career that he scored touchdown, had a rushing attempt and a reception.
It was a question whether the Bucs would hold onto five running backs heading into the season, but it doesn’t look like that now with Ogunbowale’s departure. The running backs remaining are Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy and rookies Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Raymond Calais.
Gay was the Bucs’ starting kicker a season ago after getting selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He hit 77 percent of his kicks in an up and down season. He was at 85 percent before the last game of the year, where he missed three kicks and dropped his average.
Gay is known for having a very strong leg where he can make kicks from 55 yards out, but he struggled to be consistent from 35 yards in. That was highlighted in a Week 3 loss to the New York Giants where Gay missed a game winning kick from 34 yards out. The inconsistency from that close was an issue that Bruce Arians said needed to be fixed.
After an inconsistent training camp where both Gay and Elliott Fry had their struggles, Fry was released and Ryan Succop was brought in on September 1st. While he’s only been with the Bucs for a couple of days, Succop impressed enough to win the job.
Practice squads are expanded this year 16 players as the NFL adapts their season during the COVID-19 pandemic. It would not be a shock if either Ogunbowale or Gay end up there if they clear through waivers.