The Bucs signed J.R. Sweezy away from Seattle in March, hoping to add a formidable run-blocker to fill the void left by Logan Mankins and help the offense progress on a promising season in 2015.

But after inking the fifth-year guard to a five-year, $32 million deal, Sweezy suffered a back injury and underwent surgery. He was sidelined the entire season, including training camp. Initially on the PUP list – which meant missing at least the first five games – Sweezy was later placed on IR in November, leaving his future in Tampa in question.

Though his status for 2017 still seems up in the air, Sweezy sounded confident in his return to action when speaking with Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times on Monday.

“I don’t want to say I’m going to do something when I’m not,” Sweezy said, via Auman. “I’m taking it one day at a time. I’m very confident that I will be ready but, that being said, again, just one day at a time, just getting better. … I’m just looking forward to next season and continuing to get better every day.”

Sweezy, who had missed just one start since 2014, called the misfortune of 2016 “probably the hardest season I’ve ever been a part of.”

“These guys are laying it on the line and winning ball games, and you just want to help,” he said. “It was very tough, but I think it’s made me grow a lot.”

During his final day-after-game press conference, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter touched upon the situation regarding Sweezy briefly – and honestly.

“I’m not a doctor, but what I do know is we haven’t seen him on the field,” Koetter said. “At this point, it’s been over a year since he’s played. We really don’t know what we have. Until we see him on the field healthy, that’s an unknown. If it ever comes to the point where we have a healthy J.R. Sweezy on the field, and he’s the player we thought we were getting when we were looking at that Seattle tape, I think he adds another one to the depth I already talked about on the O-line. Do we ever get to that point? I do not know that.”

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About the Author: Zach Shapiro

Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders. Contact him at: [email protected]
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cgmaster27
cgmaster27
5 years ago

That didn’t sound too confident to me. I’d just go ahead and assume he’s another offensive line bust from free agency.

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

Hate to say this cgmaster but I concur with your opiniion.
What I would like to know is hoe and whrn he injured his back and how. If it was not football related then I would think we eould be off the hook cap wise and legally wise from paying his contract.
That is another question I would like to know the answer to.
Ad for Sweezy’s remark about growing on IR it is certain that one thing that grew and swelled was his bank account.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  drdneast
5 years ago

I think it had to be within the football relm like weight lifting at OBP or they wouldn’t had placed him on IR; just my guess. Anybody know?

macabee
macabee
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

Horse,

Never placed on IR. Was put on reserve PUP. After the 11th game by NFL rule, he had to be cut, activated, placed on IR or remain on PUP for the remainder of the year. He was left on PUP.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  macabee
5 years ago

Macabee; thank you as I didn’t know he stayed on PUP.

Amo
Amo
5 years ago

We need a center. I’m not crazy of moving Marpet to the middle. I’m all for versatility but I believe its best to leave young players in one place. Go Bucs!

vinnie
vinnie
5 years ago

Does anyone know what is wrong with him? Is the back injury career ending or just a 1 year set back? PR please find out for us readers.

Thanks and Happy 2017 Bucs Fans

Dude
Dude
5 years ago

Back injuries never seem to go away completely. It’s probably something that he is just going to learn how to deal with, or give up his football career. But I could be wrong. The sad thing is, i have only met one person who has ever had successful back surgery, and I’ve talked to a lot who have had it. I hope the best for him. But maybe the Bucs need to clear out some of the dead weight this team has carried this past year and get some new talent that can be on the field. That $32 mill… Read more »

Garv
Garv
5 years ago

Sorry, but until J.R. actually is cleared to practice I’m assuming it just did not work out and the Buccaneers got jobbed. There is nothing we’ve heard or seen to make me feel otherwise and the Bucs need to move on as if he’ll never play again.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Garv
5 years ago

You make it sound as if Sweezy purposely conned the Bucs. Hardly. There seems to be a real strong tendency amongst fans to assign blame for injuries, including potentially even career ending injuries, to the players. That’s an immature attitude, to assume that because someone isn’t able to work they’re somehow conning everyone. There isn’t a player on Bucs, and few to none in the league, who don’t work their entire youth and adult lives to be able to go out and play on that field for as long as their bodies can hold out. There isn’t a player in… Read more »

Garv
Garv
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

I do NOT blame Sweezy for being injured. I do wonder how the Buccaneers paid so much for a guy who never even made to a single practice. I believe he had back issues before he was signed and it seems to me the Buccaneers had no idea how serious they were. It’s been an entire year. He’s a lineman with a serious back problem and it doesn’t seem to me he can be counted on. I don’t really believe the Buccaneers are counting on him at this point either. Clear?

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  Garv
5 years ago

Apparently the injury occurred after the contract was signed, as I understand it. The Bucs, just like every other NFL team, does a full medical evaluation on every player, both free agents and prospective draft picks, to determine their medical fitness as of the date of the exam. Lots of players have failed those exams over the years. But nothing can make up for an injury post-signing.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
5 years ago

Hmmmm. Often sick on either Friday or Monday and mental health days to get out of work. I’ll add working at home, 15 minute doctor exam and taking off the entire day, wife ill and you take the day off too, no need to drive all the way to the office with nothing much to do, stepped on a sand spur and foot hurts, bit by an ant and worried it might be the onset of shingles. I’ve heard a lot of doozies. Totally agree with you on this one. I suppose there are some players who have more injuries… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
5 years ago

The Bucs are only on the hook for one more year at 6.5 million I believe, Dude.
Akeem Spence also underwent back surgery this year and was back playing by the middle of the year.
Why does this injury and rehab have to be so mysterious.

WiltheBrewer
WiltheBrewer
5 years ago

Nothing that sounds like OL isn’t on the draft list again this season

seat26
seat26
5 years ago

We need you big fella. Our line needs a good center/ guard.
I am praying for your health. Something we seem to be lacking on this team.

scubog
scubog
5 years ago

I suspect Jason Licht will conduct the business of developing the offensive line as if Sweezy won’t be available and if he does retuen to the form anticipated it will be a bonus.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  scubog
5 years ago

The Bucs have about $75M in cap space today … more if they void Martin’s guaranteed second year. So Licht has plenty of room to sign a quality offensive lineman, but as always, they’re in demand and don’t come often, and don’t come cheap.

surferdudes
5 years ago

Having had my L5 removed, like my torn liabrum, and rotator cuffs done I can say with certainty you’re not 100 percent for a full year. Now my disc was removed 20 years ago, the shoulders three. I’m 61 and still battle the Sea surfing. So let’s not throw a 20 something year old on the scrap heap so fast. I bet he comes back strong, no pun intended, next season.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
5 years ago

Nobody can conclude anything from Dirk’s remarks, he actually said he has no idea what’s coming with Sweezy. Dirk can only play the players he has, and he can’t spend any time or thought dealing with players who haven’t played a snap for him as of today.

All we can do is hope that Sweezy is able to play next season. If so that fills a sizeable hole in our O-line talent pool … and if not then that’s another hole that needs filling.

arizonajoe
arizonajoe
5 years ago

Offensive line, RBs, and WRs are a need in Tampa. The defense was awful early in the year, then jelled by the end of the season. Is V-Jax gone? I would assume so. But really, we can improve at most positions. That being the case, I hope we draft best available.

inspecto
inspecto
5 years ago

Apparently the injury occurred after the contract was signed, as I understand JR dropped the pen and when he bent over to pick it up., the back checked out. And never came back, all the Glazer’s men couldn’t put snezzy back together again.